Book Review: Of Mice and Men

Book Review: Of Mice and Men

Hayley Vevey, Staff Writer

The novel Of Mice and Men, written by John Steinbeck, is one of the 20th century’s literary classics. It takes place in California during the sensitive time of America’s Great Depression and follows the evocative story of two companions who share a dream of tending a land of their own. Although the era held little hope for them, Steinbeck emphasizes the working class’ optimistic attitude in response to tolling hardships. It leads with a slow beginning as the author focuses on the characterization of the peripatetic pair. However, it finishes with a gripping end that opens diaglogue regarding the controversial topic of euthanasia. Although the book wasn’t praised due to its shameful response to disabilities (such as derogatory remarks), Steinbeck was simply aiming to create an honest narration of the set period and how people behaved.

The story follows Lennie Small and George Milton, who share an almost mother and child-like relationship. Despite his burly stature and consistent perturbing of George, Lennie is good-natured, but mentally challenged. His counterpart is the complete opposite of Lennie in most forms; he is of small stature and short-tempered, except he too has good intentions. Although he is burdened by Lennie’s incapabilities, he continues to devote himself to the promise he made to his aunt of taking care of Lennie. Even if their friendship was born out of obligation, the two share a brotherhood so strong that it prevails over tough times. The two find work on a ranch after being driven out of their previous job due to Lennie’s irresponsible–yet harmless–actions. On the new farm, they continue to save up money to buy a share of land for themselves. However, after confronting the harsh reality of life, their aspirations have no room to be realized. 

Although the central characters may seem so hopelessly different from each other,  reading their story as they persevere is a heartening experience. The readers become terribly despondent to learn how the ambitions of George and Lennie are completely beyond reach. Even though the ending is inescapable, you will find yourself entertained by the amusing narrative. Steinbeck has carved such honestly developed characters to carry the story that the mere dialogue between characters will keep your attention. After reading this novel, I was satisfied with how it settled, and its morals made an impression on me. Personally I interpreted the story to teach that some lives are destined to be doomed and that there is no freeing from it. It is a realistic perspective on life, and it doesn’t mislead you into becoming a hopeless optimistic. Unfortunately, bad things happen to good people, and occasionally sacrifices must be made to bring others peace. Aside from my slightly pessimistic conclusion, it shouldn’t hinder your interest in reading the novella. It holds such significance not only for its historically accurate portrayal of what it would have been like to be of the working class in the west during the 1930s, but also for displaying the value in a solid friendship, even if it is not the happiest of endings.