A simple and beautiful tale of family and friendship. But not everything is simple and heartbreak looms just out there with the rabbits.
Of Mice And Men
Author : John Steinbeck
Published February 25, 1937
If Cannery Row is Steinbeck flexing his muscle and learning to write about PLACE as a character, Of Mice And Men is his example of fully committing to making strong, emotional character relationships the star.
Of Mice And Men is a short, simple tale that follows the characters of George and Lennie as they find work at a farm with the dream of putting away some money to buy a place of their own.
George is, for lack of a better term, Lennie’s caretaker.
Lennie is a mountain of a man, stronger than imaginable, and not a mean bone in his body. But he’s also what would be considered back then, a “simple man”. He’s a true gentle giant with the mind of a child.
As the story unfolds, and it unfolds quickly here compared with the rest of Steinbeck’s novels that I’ve recently read, we see George doing his best to care for Lennie even though Lennie tends to bring trouble now and then accidentally.
He just doesn’t know his own strength and sometimes bad things happen when he gets scared.
At it’s core this is a story of a brotherly love, a bond of caring through a mental illness, and ultimately a tragedy.
I’m not going to say too much about the plot itself because it’s short and you should just check it out for yourself.
Of Mice And Men was the very first work of John Steinbeck that I ever remember reading… waaaay back in junior high school. I loved the story then, I loved the film adaptation from 1992 starring Gary Sinise and John Malkovich, and I am thrilled that this is the final novel in my journey through these five Steinbeck novels.
In many ways this Steinbeck journey has been a grueling and frustrating ride, but knowing Of Mice And Men was waiting for me as the grand finale helped spur me through it.
As I’ve worked through these five novels I found myself thinking of this collection from Amaranth Press as a “book playlist” of sorts. Started out with a kick to the gut and healthy dose of desperation in The Grapes of Wrath, the mood shifts some and adds a little more hope into the darkness with The Moon Is Down. From there Cannery Row gave us a little breather as we followed the happenings of that special place before we plunge into the epic rock opera of East of Eden. And as we finish the playlist and are sent on our way we get the lasting imprint of emotionally impactful characters in Of Mice And Men.
It’s the perfect story to end the playlist, the album, or the journey on.
Revisiting this story hits on so much pure emotion, the joy of Lennie as he dreams of the farm and his rabbits, the struggle and love from George as he tries to do right by them both and keep Lennie out of trouble, and the ultimate heartbreak at the conclusion of the story.
Though I must admit that on this reading, I couldn’t stop visualizing the characters as Gary Sinise and John Malkovich, and it really made me want to watch the film again.
As far as the book goes, that’s about all I have to say about it.
It’s a short read, a story I truly love, and I HIGHLY recommend you check it out for yourself. At just over 100 pages it’s well worth the time to enjoy!
As such Of Mice And Men by John Steinbeck gets a 5 out of 5 stars.
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