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 to lead a good life and to achieve their dreams. 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 the controversial topic of euthanasia, and although the book was banned for its shameful nature (such as derogatory remarks), Steinbeck aimed to create an honest narration of the set period.

The story follows Lennie Small and George Milton, who share an almost mother-child-like relationship. Despite what his burly structure suggests and his consistent perturbing of George, Lennie is good-natured, however mentally challenged. His counterpart is the complete opposite of Lennie in most forms; he is of small stature and short-tempered, except he too is of good intent. Although he is burdened by Lennie’s mental incapabilities, he continues to devote himself to the promise he made to his aunt of taking care of Lennie. 

Although their friendship was born out of obligation, the two share a brotherhood so strong that it prevails before all other influences. The two find work on a ranch after being driven out of their previous job due to Lennie’s irresponsible–yet harmless–actions. On this new farm, they continue to save up money to buy a share of land for themselves, however, with having to confront the harsh reality of life, their aspirations must come to a resolution. 

The two central characters may seem so hopelessly different from each other, but reading their story progress as they tolerate the harsh conditions of the period encourages a heartening response. It is terribly despondent from the audience’s view to learn how the ambitions of George and Lennie are completely beyond reach, but even with knowing this inevitable ending, you will find yourself entertained just by the amusing narrative. Steinbeck has carved such developed personalities to carry the story that the mere dialogue between characters will keep your attention. 

After having read this novel, I was satisfied with how it settled and its provocative morals made an impression on me. 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 of a solid friendship.