Saturday, September 11, 2010

Of Mice and Men

by John Steinbeck

George and Lennie, two migrant workers are on their way to start a new job. George is small, dark man and Lennie is his opposite, he is a big man and you can see he is a little slow. As it comes clear later Lennie has a mental disability and George is in charge of him. George often complains about being responsible for Lennie and says it would be easier without him, but you can feel that even if George says things like that he truly loves Lennie and cares about him. Lennie likes to pet soft things, but often he accidently kills them; he doesn’t realize how strong he is.

Both men share a common dream about having their own house, a piece of land that they could take care of; they are dreaming about working for themselves and being free of worrying about another job. When they finally arrive at the farm, George is so worried that because of Lennie they could miss out on the job that he convinces Lennie to let him do all the talking. George, to avoid any questions, tells their new boss that he and Lennie are cousins travelling together. First evening talking with the other workers they find out about the boss’s son Curley, who is a newlywed and very jealous of his wife. George gets feeling that this man could cause them problems and he asks Lennie not to talk to him. Curley is in a bad mood that evening and is walking around searching for his wife so when he can’t find her, he starts a fight with Lennie. Curley gets hurt in the fight, but when he gets home he tells them that he got his arm crushed in a piece of machinery.

On the next day George confesses to Slim, another worker, that he and Lennie are just friends not cousins and that they lost a job because of Lennie’s obsession about touching soft things. He tried to touch a woman’s dress and was accused of rape. Slim, has a dog who has puppies and he agrees to give one of them to Lennie.

One evening, a man with one arm missing, named Candy, hears a conversation between George and Lennie about building a house and buying some land. So he offers them his life savings and in return asks them to make him part of their plan. Now there are three of them and it seems less like a dream and more like reality. So now they begin planning how to make their dream come true as soon as possible. That night almost all the men from the farm go to the local brothel. At the farm stays Lennie, Candy, Mr. Crook and Curley’s wife. She sees the cut on Lennie’s face and realizes that he was the one who hurt her husband and this thought amuses her. The next day Lennie accidently kills his puppy in the barn, when in walks Curley’s wife who tries to calm him down. She confesses that her life with Curley is a mistake and she wishes she would have followed her dream to become a movie star. Lennie tells her that he liked to pet soft things and she offers to let him feel her hair. He grabs her hair strongly, she screams, Lennie tries to calm her down, but he breaks her neck accidently.

The story starts out sweet when the author talks about the friendship between Lennie and George, but then it turns out really shocking. It’s a short story, but very intense. I didn’t expect so many different emotions from a book this thin. The author makes you live the whole spectrum of emotions from being touched in the beginning about George taking care of Lennie, to feeling excited about their dream almost coming true then feeling disappointed even angry about Curley’s behavior finally shocked in the end of the book. The last part was unforgettable; it was so disturbing for me that I couldn’t stop thinking about this novel for days after finishing it. It was such a weird mix between cruelty and sweetness, but it’s definitely worth reading.

1 comment:

  1. I feel bad, but I found this novel a bit dry. The ending was good, but still, it was presented so starkly. I really wanted to like it...

    I might just not be the right Steinbeck fit.