Sunday, April 6, 2014

Book Review: Of Mice and Men

Of Mice and Men was written by John Steinbeck and published in 1937.  It was subsequently made into a play, and there are three or four movie versions.
I think this is one of my favorite stories of all time.  It has to do with hope, and shattered hope; as well as being there for each other.
I like the way John Steinbeck describes things.  I can see Lenny in the dusty barn playing with the pups; the African American man with the crooked back, and his resentment about not being included; I can hear the clang of the horseshoes as they hit the stakes, and the groans of the men as they fall off, or the cheers as someone scores a ringer.  I relate to that rural life.  Steinbeck has a way of describing people, but also nature.  I paid attention to the crane that grabbed the water snake.  I had missed that little description when I read before.
And the dreams of Lenny and George, which seem to be larger than life.  The little place with a cow and some chickens and a few rabbits.  An alfalfa field to feed the chickens.  This dream eventually includes a workman who lost his hand in a farm accident, Candy.  With his stake it seems their dream might really happen.  But sometimes things are not to be.  "The best laid schemes of mice and men Go often awry, And leave us nothing but grief and pain, For promised joy!"  (Robert Burns)  When everything falls through, it is Candy who is most grieved. "'You an' me can get that little place, can't we, George?  You an' me can go there and live nice, can't we George?  Can't we?'  Before George answered, Candy dropped his head and looked down at the hay.  He knew."  (Steinbeck)
I can see how some people may be disturbed with the ending, but in its way, it is a beautiful ending to a tragic story.  Could it have ended any other way?  Throughout the story, George and Lenny talk about how they are different, they have each other.  And so George takes care of Lenny, and doesn't leave him to any mob.
This is a beautiful book.

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