Of Mice and Men

ISBN: 0142000671
ISBN 13: 9780142000670
By: John Steinbeck

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About this book

The tragic story of the complex bond between two migrant laborers in Central California. They are George Milton and Lennie Small, itinerant ranch hands who dream of one day owning a small farm. George acts as a father figure to Lennie, who is a very large, simple-minded man, calming him and helping to rein in his immense physical strength.

Reader's Thoughts

Jeniffer Almonte

"Of Mice and Men" is so widely read since it's required at most schools. But I hope that doesn't mean we take it for granted. On this re-reading one of the elements I gained was the character of Crooks, the clever black stable hand languishing with loneliness. I also saw Curley's wife in a different light-- one that understood how her loneliness guided her relationship with the men. And there's Candy, lonely for his smelly old dog, wanting to be part of George and Lennie's piece of paradise, wanting to go to the circus or a baseball game if he ever did feel like it.At that time that I read this when I was 11, I guess none of them made much of an impression. I saw only Lennie and the innocence of his dreams. And I thought that was the point. On this second reading, I realized that almost everyone had innocent dreams and maybe THAT was the point. Because George too, has innocent dreams, even though he should know better (having manufactured those dreams for Lennie's sake). Lennie is the way that he is because of his mental disability. But really, he's the way that he is because he is human. The desire for companionship, the innocent optimism, the potential for destruction, those things are human. They are just all bigger in him than usual. This is such a powerful little book, with dialogue that truly sings. A masterpiece. And an absolute treat to re-read!

Andrew Kubasek

There are few books which reduce me to emotional breakdown, but this is one of them. Revealing the darker side of compassion, Steinbeck tells the story of two friends and what happens when one of them "does a bad thing." Has this novel become over-taught in high schools? Definitely - and people's perception of the novel suffers because of it. People have to want to read this book because nobody wants such a harsh, violent story placed upon them as an obligation to read.This is a very different "American Dream" story than what most people think of (which is usually "The Great Gatsby"). It is about turn-of-the-century working men, who live week-to-week and month-to-month, always building better lives in their heads than can ever be built by their work. It about trying to get ahead, but always having a handicap - brutality (Lennie), being crippled (Candy), being unwanted (Crooks), or having to take care of someone else (George). It is about young men and their dreams, and old men and their dogs, and the dream that all Americans carry of running away and living off the fat of the land.

Larry Bassett

There are a lot of movies available online for free. There are two movie versions of Of Mice and Men online: one released in 1939 and another in 1992. I have just recently fallen into watching movie adaptations of books I am reading or listening to. I like it. So here I have an audio book and a pair of movies. The 1939 movie (with Burgess Meredith and Lon Chaney Jr.) was intriguing to me since the book was first published in 1937. The book is having its 75th anniversary this year. The movie made most contemporaneously with the publication of the book easily captures the time period since it was actually made during that period. It effortlessly displays the 1930s of the book. If you are a fan of vintage films and classic books, you will enjoy the combination.Gary Sinise is the excellent narrator of the audio book. Gary Sinise directed the 1992 movie version of Of Mice and Men and played the role of George. This is another book that has online SparkNotes at http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/micemen/ if you find these helps useful.George and Lennie have a plan, a dream, and it keeps them going in an otherwise routine life. Their dream is so appealing that others want to join them in that dream. It gives the men something to live for. Lennie loves to have George tell the story of the place they will have with a house and alfalfa and rabbits and “live off the fat of the land.” Men grasping for a better future. Of Mice and Men is a simple story of rootless men moving from farm job to farm job near Salinas, California. Steinbeck excels with his descriptions of people and places: the countryside, the bunkhouse, the odd collection of men and Curley’s wife. Crooks, the lone black man on the ranch, talks with Lennie about how men need each other and they always have dreams that are never realized. Lots of lonely people in this story.Hearing the story of the gentle giant and his life with George brought a shiver of recollection. His world came crashing in on him as he watched his dream seem to be coming true just as it does with every reading of this book that is woven into the American psyche. Lennie and George have each other but that evidently is not enough. “Tell how it’s gonna be,” said Lennie to George. And I am not sure if the lump in my throat is from the conclusion of the story or from the nostalgia of my past.Five stars for the audio version done so well.

Taylor K.

Goddamn it, Steinbeck. You incredible, wonderful, magnificent writer, you.With Of Mice and Men, Steinbeck continues to hit me in a way that no other writer has (at least not yet). He has this talent for finding the achilles' heel of humanity and slicing it open in a way that will leave me in a crumpled heap on the floor, begging him to do it over and over again.One of the things that floors me about Steinbeck is how deftly he can do this in a short time. Of Mice and Men packs a wallop in 118 pages that many books three times the length never come close to.The story of Lennie and George, two migrant workers with a dream of saving up money from their farm gigs to purchase land and become homesteaders, gets to the heart of the things that make us human: loneliness, dreams/hope, and the things we do to help or hurt each other, as motivated by those things. Just as every character suffers in their own way, every character dreams in their own way. (For example, it's George that truly aspires to ownership (No Gods No Masters), where Lennie simply wants something to care for (rabbits, particularly).)These dreams and fears create a complex bond between Lennie and George, which surprises the other workers in Of Mice and Men, citing that many men simply don't trust each other enough to travel together. Lennie, while a strong worker, needs George to help get him gigs, as he's mentally slow and scares and intimidates people. Meanwhile, George often muses that he could probably be more successful without Lennie - and yet, his desire to take care of Lennie is part of what motivates him to save money to buy land, whereas the other workers simply throw it all at gambling, hookers, and booze. Power is the third motivating force - just as everyone holds their own desires and their own fears, almost everyone in Of Mice and Men holds some kind of power, be it physical or mental, which they display over one another in turn. This mingling of hopes, fears, and power creates an intricate web bringing the characters on the farm together in touching and heart-breaking ways. No one person is responsible for the events that unfold, because everyone is flawed. No one person is a hero or a villain, because they are all capable of good and of evil.As gifted as Steinbeck is with prose and with character building, he's equally deft at setting mood and tone. You can emotionally sense what's coming as much as you can from any plot tools that tip towards foreshadowing. What guts me in a not-so positive way is that there seems to be so little in the way of hope to draw from Of Mice and Men. It's hard to tell if Steinbeck is presenting a sad reality, a cautionary tale, or both. There's this well-circulated quote from his journal around the time of writing this, however, that feels important in this context (and is apparently used in an introduction to the book in other versions):"In every bit of honest writing in the world … there is a base theme. Try to understand men, if you understand each other you will be kind to each other. Knowing a man well never leads to hate and nearly always leads to love. There are shorter means, many of them. there is writing promoting social change, writing punishing injustice, writing in celebration of heroism, but always that base theme. Try to understand each other."This certainly feels to be one of the messages we can draw from Of Mice and Men, as well as so many of Steinbeck's works as a whole. In a handful of scenes, the characters confess their loneliness and their hopes to each other, and realize both how little they know of each other, but also how much they have in common. What's truly tragic here is how those fears repeat themselves, and prevent them from finding answers or solutions.What holds me back from giving this the big five is that once again Steinbeck uses women to represent temptation and little else. I don't get the impression that he hates women, per se, but I do need more from his women characters. I need to see that he can write women as more than meddling temptresses. Maybe finally picking up Grapes of Wrath will do that for me? I hope?I never read Of Mice and Men in school as so many do, and I'm a bit glad for it, because I didn't appreciate most of the works I was introduced to through high-school. While I like to think that I could've appreciated Steinbeck at any age, I was easily turned off from a good number of writers during that time. The thought that I could've been turned off from Steinbeck, who's easily in my writer top three now (maybe even at the very very tippy top, if he writes better women in other works) makes me realize that some of them are probably due second chances. All of us need one, at times.

Kristen

I have hated Steinbeck since the tender age of 15 when I was forced to choke down Grapes of Wrath. I was then forced to sit through the movie version of Grapes of Wrath, and was re-assigned to book to read by a crazy teacher I had at the age of 17. I liked it no better on the second go round, however at least by then I was able to pick out the "Christ Figure" that my teachers had always babbled about.Because of this terrible set of experiences I had sworn off of Steinbeck for the rest of my life. If you see a copy of Grapes of Wrath on fire, you know that I'm probably near by. So when I started reading the list "1001 books to read before you die" I was glad that I could already check off Grapes of Wrath and not touch it again - but to my dismay, there were other books by Steinbeck on the list. I admit I panicked... there was no WAY I was going to torture myself like that again. Every word of that last attempt had been a struggle.Then I noticed that one of the books was "Of Mice and Men." I had seen the play several times and the movie, and to be honest - they weren't that bad. So during a carride to ATL under questionable circumstances, I read this 107 page book from beginning to end. Now I'm sure there was a Christ figure in there somewhere, and I know that there was a lot of "deep meaning" and "symbolism enough to choke a badger" but I happily ignored all of it. I am excited to say that I read through the book - found it didn't change me, my thought process, or my lifestyle, and was able to move on. Short Summary - George and his retarded pal Lenny are day workers who travel from farm to farm trying to earn a living. Lenny is huge, with the mind of a child, and George is small and quick witted. George keeps Lenny entertained with stories about how one day they will of their own land and work it themselves. George has told the story enough that even he's starting to believe it. Things go bad at their current job when a trampy woman hits on Lenny. That's about it.Lots of themes, racism, tragedy, the way men treat one another, the lifestyle of the migrant worker in the 30's, the treatment of the mentally handicapped, etc. In the end, Steinbeck does a better job of not bashing the reader over the skull with his themes, and he managed to contain his desire to describe every grain of sand. I figure most people can make it through 107 pages of Steinbeck.

Shayantani Das

“Trouble with mice is you always kill 'em. ” Breathtaking prose, touching characters and a heart breaking ending. Who said only lengthy novel can make an impact?

Mike (the Paladin)

I know...classic, movies, been around for years, greatly respected author, etc., etc., etc. But, nihilism leaves me cold...Enjoy if it's you...but (and I've used this quote before) this book typifies "life is hard and then you die". Who cares how well the story is written that gets you there.The very quality of the writing here made the experience worse for me. It has been brought to my attention of late that Steinbeck was a gifted writer. It's true he was, and the message in the story he relates here carries that much more weight. I suppose the bottom line is, I live in the world where pain happens, a lot. I don't really need it here. So, I leave my rating as it is because my experience here remains a 1 star experience. So, as I said for you who love this book, and I know some...I'm happy for you, I don't and I can't really recommend it.

Lou

Oustanding short heart warming storySome facts about the book, author and the movies..Of Mice and Men was adapted for the screen three times, the first in 1939, two years after the publication of the novel. This adaptation of Of Mice and Men stars Lon Chaney Jr. as Lennie, Burgess Meredith as George, and was directed by Lewis Milestone.It was nominated for four Oscars.[16]In 1981 it was made into a TV movie, starring Randy Quaid as Lennie, and Robert Blake as George, and was directed by Reza Badiyi.Another theatrical film version was made in 1992, directed by Gary Sinise, who was nominated for the Palme d'Or at Cannes. Sinise also played George in the film, and the role of Lennie was played by John Malkovich. For this adaptation, both men reprised their roles from the 1980 Steppenwolf Theatre Company production.John Steinbeck loved the movie and said that Henry Fonda as Tom Joad made him "believe my own words".Prior to filming, producer Darryl F. Zanuck sent undercover investigators out to the migrant camps to see if John Steinbeck had been exaggerating about the squalor and unfair treatment meted out there. He was horrified to discover that, if anything, Steinbeck had actually downplayed what went on in the camps.The novel's original ending was far too controversial to be even considered for a film in 1940. It involved Rose-of-Sharon Rivers (Dorris Bowdon) giving birth to a stillborn baby and then offering her milk-filled breasts to a starving man, dying in a barn.Darryl F. Zanuck paid $100,000 for the rights to John Steinbeck's novel - a staggering amount of money at the time. Steinbeck only allowed the rights to be sold under the proviso that the filmmakers should show the material due reverence and treat the project responsibly.Some images.. The Author Steinbeck

Shannon

i hated this book.steinbeck is crap.children should not be forced to read it.ok, i really just don't like steinbeck's aesthetic. i dislike the killing of innocent animals, the dehumanization of the mentally retarded--and don't try to tell me that lenny isn't marginalized here. the book is depressing and directionless, and not in the ironic waiting-for-godot sort of way. the descriptions are flat, emotionless, and dessicated.however, curly's wife is awesome. she's just so bizarre and pathetic, so out of place. i love her.

Martha

The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry . . .Well, I can't believe I missed reading "Of Mice and Men" in high school. My kids even said they read this as freshmen. This past weekend I was looking for a quick read to help my goal status of the 2012 Reading Challenge, and looked up "Of Mice and Men". I achieved an additional book toward my challenge, but the reward of the read was so much more. This small book gave quite a punch.Right from the start, Steinbeck's landscape descriptions of California's Central Valley, close to Soledad are so vivid you can't help but feel the leaves crunching beneath your feet. The deep green pool of the winding Salinas River, the dry crisp leaves from the sycamore tree thick on the ground and the lizard "skittering" through them, the water snake with its head up like a periscope, the rabbits sitting on the sandy bank in the evening, the heron "pounding the air with its wings", and the ashes pile in front of the great sycamore from others traveling through this spot will forever be embedded in my mind.This story takes place in only three days. It is during the depression, 1930, on a California ranch. Steinbeck slowly and methodically builds up the characters of George and Lennie, two migrant farm workers looking to start a new job at a ranch near Soledad. George is a small, compact, quick-moving fellow with well-defined features and savvy. He dreams of buying his own piece of land someday, to be his own boss. Lennie on the other hand, is a very large, slow-moving man, who is also very slow mentally. He dreams alongside George about the property they hope to attain someday. After Lennie's Aunt Clara died, George knew he would have to take care of Lennie. The friendship and "kinship" of George and Lennie are the most touching part of this book. Conversations between George and Lennie are repetitive all the way through, but you come to understand the significance of this as the story progresses.This novella is full of themes such as: friendship, hopes and dreams, aloneness, innocence, violence, and prejudice. For such a small piece of work, Steinbeck outright covered each subject thoroughly and completely.I never was exposed to the storyline of this book before, so I went in "fresh". As the New York Times stated on the back of my copy, "A thriller, a gripping tale . . . that you will not set down until it is finished". This was my experience exactly! What a dramatic thriller it is, and I am so glad to have experienced it. Definitely a FIVE STAR!!

Douglas

** spoiler alert ** You won't get any complaint from me that this book is skillfully written, in it's vivid descriptions of settings, detailed descriptions of characters, and realistic dialogue. However, I believe this book has a bad message, and the bad message is about how it's ok to put the weak, infirm and dependent to death. It started with the discussion of Candy's aged dog. The book gave the impression that the dog's age made him no good to even himself, the "quality of life" argument that has been advanced to support euthanizing the elderly, weak and infirm. After discussing Candy's dog, the argument proceded to Candy himself, where he longs to be euthanized when he can no longer work. Finally, we come to George's murder of the retarded Lennie, which is completely justified by Slim, the voice of the one sympathetic character in the book. I believe that George was looking for an opportunity to divest himself of Lennie, and that opportunity presented itself when Lennie killed Curley's wife. It was also mentioned that if Lennie was institutionalized, it would be worse than death. I realized there are conflicting opinions about the moral nature of George, but I don't believe he was a good character. As I was writing this review, I recalled Proverbs 31:8-9 "Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy." Of Mice And Men describes a world where the advocates for euthanizing the weak and infirm prevail.

Alexia

Blatant symbolism makes the reader able to discern exactly what is going to happen and what means what from the get-go. There is no surprise or character development, just the descent into the inevitable.

Kemper

I needed a quick read because I stupidly forgot that the library would be closed yesterday for Veteran's Day. I'd exhausted my current supply, and I needed a short term fix to hold me until I could get some new product today. So I grabbed Of Mice and Men off the bookshelf last night.And I'm glad I did because I'd somehow remembered that this was a depressing book. How wrong I was! Oh, sure there were some tense moments like when you think Lennie will accidently hurt Curley's wife in the barn. What a relief when George and Candy come in at the last minute and stop anything bad from happening! And isn't it nice that the scare changes both Curley and his wife so that they have a much better marriage and new appreciation for each other.Plus, it leads to the great moment when Curley is so grateful that he fronts George, Lennie and Candy the money to finally buy the ranch of their dreams. Oh, and that last scene with George and Candy on the porch of their new home while Lennie tends the rabbits brought a tear to my eye.What's that you say? I got the ending wrong? No, I'm quite certain this is what happened. No! Be quiet! I can't hear you! LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA

Nathan

"A guy goes nuts if he ain't got nobody. It don't make no difference who the guy is, long as he's with ya'. I tell ya', a guy gets too lonely, and he gets sick." I first read Of Mice and Men at an age when I was learning to read. Not phonetically, but critically. This novel taught me what good literature could be, and it is one of a handful of novels that I measure all other novels by. As a result, I have turned into someone who can read five to ten nonfiction books in a month but read only one or two fiction books in any given year. This is what good literature should be. The essence of the story - loneliness and man's desperate need for friendship - is a story that never ages, never tires, and only seems trite to those too self-centered to ever realize how lonely they really are. Yes, it is sad and almost dooming in places. But it is also touching, true and timeless. The quote at the start of this review is as potent now as it was then; and its sentiment is timeless enough that it even showed up in 2006 on TV's Lost, word-for-word, as part of banter between two essential characters. "Don't you read?" Ben asked Sawyer. Even on an Island in the middle of nowhere, with others out to kidnap you and magic monsters made of trees and nightmares trying to kill you, reading Of Mice and Men is still important in a functional society.NC

Andy

It's the way Steinbeck describes things that gets me."Crooks, the negro stable buck, had his bunk in the harness room; a little shed that leaned off the wall of the barn. On one side of the little room there was a square four-paned window, and on the other, a narrow plank door leading into the barn. Crooks' bunk was a long box filled with straw, on which his blankets were flung. On the wall by the window there were pegs on which hung broken harness in process of being mended; strips of new leather; and under the window itself a little bench for leather-working tools, curved knives and needles and balls of linen thread, and a small hand riveter. On pegs were also pieces of harness, a split collar with the horsehair stuffing sticking out, a broken hame, and a trace chain with its leather covering split. Crooks had his apple box over his bunk, and in it a range of medicine bottles, both for himself and for the horses. There were cans of saddle soap and a drippy can of tar with its paint brush sticking over the edge. And scattered about the floor were a number of personal possessions; for, being alone, Crooks could leave his things about, ad being a stable buck and a cripple, he was more permanent than the other men, and he had accumulated more possessions than he could carry on his back."None of this is relevant to the story, and yet a middle chapter opens up with this vivid scene. Steinbeck succeeds because the characters he paints in your head are exact. The first time I saw the movie that was made out of this story, it was just as I had envisioned it. Though the story great itself, the reason I will come back to this book is for the little things, the very things that have made me love Steinbeck so much. I first read Of Mice And Men my sophomore year of high school, when it was a required reading in Mrs. Beeler's class. I recall disliking almost all required school readings up to this point (though admittedly I had skipped out on the summer reading project of "The Grapes Of Wrath"). When this book was assigned, I knew it was different. I blew through it, reading it in a day or two, even though I wasn't supposed to. For once there was a school book that I enjoyed. And all the credit in the world to my teacher, who chose other good books the rest of the year. So it's been 6-7 years since I've read this, and now, reading it for the second time, it's just as memorable as I remember. The story sticks with you, the imagery sticks. The characters are among Steinbeck's best, painted in such a crystal clear vision of the time.It's a near perfect short story, and one that I will surely revisit throughout my life.

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