Hey, friends. A couple of weeks ago, I finished Of Mice and Men for a summer reading assignment. Honestly, I feel like as soon as a book becomes required, a reader’s interest level drops upon introduction, and instead of the novel being read with intrigue and curiosity, it’s read with a sense of disdain.
Which was exactly how I felt upon picking up this book.
I knew I had to read, annotate, and answer, like, seventy discussion questions for that specific book’s assignment, and I wasn’t looking forward to it. I especially feel like the whole rhythm of reading is lost when you’re supposed to annotate. I just ended up reading the second half of the book without annotating, so I’ll torture myself later by going back and doing it, I guess.
John Steinbeck is considered a modern classic, and two of his most loved novels – Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath – were written and took place during the Great Depression. Of Mice and Men is about two men who were sent to work on a ranch in Soledad, California. We learn about the relationship between the two characters named George and Lennie, and delve into an understanding of a deeper, more complicated kind of codependency the two share.
Reading this novel with the knowledge we have now, my eyes were opened, and as soon as I finished the book I found myself researching – looking at post after post and even a few academic journals about some of the characters in the novel.
The compelling story of two outsiders striving to find their place in an unforgiving world. Drifters in search of work, George and his simple-minded friend Lennie have nothing in the world except each other and a dream–a dream that one day they will have some land of their own. Eventually they find work on a ranch in California’s Salinas Valley, but their hopes are doomed as Lennie, struggling against extreme cruelty, misunderstanding and feelings of jealousy, becomes a victim of his own strength. Tackling universal themes such as the friendship of a shared vision, and giving voice to America’s lonely and dispossessed, Of Mice and Men has proved one of Steinbeck’s most popular works, achieving success as a novel, a Broadway play and three acclaimed films.
This is a really short read, there are maybe a little over 100 pages, and the characters demonstrate thoughts and needs that are just so real you can’t help but empathize with some of the issues discussed. The ending, though…incredibly sad. I was in awe when I finished the book, and did all of the research to console myself.
Have any of you read Of Mice and Men? Definitely let me know if you liked it. If not, have you heard any strongly positive or negative reviews thus far? I’d love to know.