John Steinbeck wrote this classic gem in 1937. It's been a Broadway play and there have been several adaptations of it in movies and TV. I was generally familiar with the story but this was the first time I actually read the book. Wow! I was completely blown away! This is the story of a two lonely and alienated men who work as farm laborers, drifting from job to job in California. Lennie is gentle giant, physically strong but mentally retarded. George guides and protects Lennie but also depends on him for companionship. Together, they have a dream to someday buy a little farm where they can grow crops and raise rabbits and live happily ever after. This, of course, is not to be as the title suggests. "The best laid plans of mice and men" is a line in a poem by Robert Burns, which describes how a field mouse's world is destroyed by a plow.
Steinbeck's narrative voice is seemingly simple in his descriptions of nature of as well as the details of the bunkhouse. His characterizations of the people are magnificent. We meet the other workers, all loners, and appreciate the beauty of the unique friendship between Lennie and George. We meet Candy, the old man who is outliving his usefulness. We meet Crooks, the black stable hand, shunned by the men and therefore turning to books for companionship. We meet the cruel Curley who taunts Lennie into a fight. And we meet Curley's wife, another lonely soul who uses her femininity to get the wrong kind of attention.
There's tension in every word and I found myself holding my breath, knowing that something awful would happen, my eyes glued to the page, the world of Lennie and George deeply etched into my consciousness. I was pulled right into the story, wanting to shout warnings as I saw the inevitable consequences. The ending was incredibly sad, but yet satisfying. It couldn't have ended any other way. It's a small book, only 118 pages long. But it is a masterpiece and I will never forget it. I give it my highest recommendation.
"Of Mice and Men" by John Steinbeck remains properly on the reading lists of high school students because of the regional imagery through succinct dialogue. Unlike "Grapes of Wrath," Steinbeck brings us swiftly into each moment, never letting us linger too long before walking us to the next place.
The American Dream has many variations, but always, it is about independence and the pride of being one's own man. Lennie and George want this independence more than most men, but have less than most men to get there. In their case, it isn't a white picket fence, but a farm where they can raise rabbits.
Lennie is not a bright man. He desires to care for someone and to be loved, but is unable to think past his own fear. George tries to protect him, but he too, although smarter than Lennie, is managed by his insecurity and foolishness.
The story surrounds Lennie and George's efforts to get and retain work on ranch near Soledad, and more so, toward their American Dream. The big picture is always with them, but it is the day-by-day difficulties they have with being outsiders. Their intrinsic inability to be free is sheer tragedy, as they both fail again and again to make the right decision.
It's a lonely story about two men who hope more than they can think, who are destined by their misery never to enjoy true companionship and happiness.
Few books are as thematically pure as "Of Mice and Men," which follows Man's search for self and meaning carefully. It is harsh in language and image, and the abstract ideas might be too much for younger readers to comprehend, but any intelligent teen will gain from it where John Knowles' "A Separate Peace" and J.D. Salinger's "The Catcher in the Rye" leave off.
I fully recommend "Of Mice and Men" by John Steinbeck.
on May 28, 2003
I am a tenth grade student and I recently read "Of Mice and Men" for a school project. I thought it was an excellent book. I felt that the author, John Steinbeck, did a first class job with this novel. It portrayed the relationship between George and Lennie in a way that made you become very attached to the characters. You wanted to read more to find out if they ever accomplished their goals and to see if their dreams became a reality. George and Lennie are complete opposites; George is a small, quick intelligent man, while Lennie is a man of huge dimensions but has the brain of a child. Throughout the story Lennie acts in ways that infuriate George, but George will always be there for his friend because he knows Lennie needs him to survive. Lennie can buck barley like no one else because of his pure strength, but would probably starve to death if he didn't have George to provide his daily meals. I think that has to do with why this book has been banned in the past by schools across the country. Some people may be offended by how the mentally challenged person is shown in this story. It seems as though the view being expressed is that people with mental problems can't do anything for themselves. They are also a constant threat to others because they cannot control themselves. Lennie didn't realize what he was doing was wrong until it had gone too far. These are stereotypes of mentally retarded people that some people may believe are reinforced by this novel. They are lead to believe that this book is discriminatory towards the mentally challenged. Parents whom believed this did not want their children reading this book because they did not want them to be exposed to these types of ideas. Also, Curly's wife does not fit the traditional mould. She is unhappy with her marriage and is not completely loyal to her husband like a conventional wife should be. She is always flirting with the men that work on the farm. Some adults believed that this was unacceptable behavior to expose to children. I don't think that a school today would even consider banning this book because cultural standards have changed greatly from when this book was first published in 1937. I also don't believe that this book should have ever been banned. It is a great book that takes you on an emotional roller coaster. Once you get started it is almost impossible to put down. The ending is also written to perfection. It is unpredictable and is incredibly moving. I really enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it anyone.
on December 14, 2010
Steinbeck's novels are wonderful to read. I'm not writing this review for these iconic stories. My critique is for the Kindle Edition. I do love using the Kindle to read, particularly with a book like this that might be a bit large to hold for a long period of time. Yet again, and again, on the Kindle I encounter formatting problems that don't exist in the print editions. In the mad rush of offering all books digitally, publishers are not taking the time to make sure Kindle edition books are of the same quality. I've found may words in this book split in half (a space in the middle of the word), about every ten pages. It doesn't make the book not worth buying, but it is distracting and it can easily be fixed with adequate proofreading.
on February 2, 2008
This is an outstanding collection of the best know shorter works by Steinbeck, or more accurately a collection of his novellas. The writing is exceptional and this is a highly recommended buy.
The stories are short and they cannot be compared with his best known novel "Grapes of Wrath." But this is a superb collection containing his best short work and first novel "Of Mice and Men." Also, it contains "Cannery Row," another great story. And, it has his interesting novel "The Moon is Down." It is about resistance to an invading force. We can assume that it is probably Norway during World War II, and their resistance to Germany, but Steinbeck keeps it a bit vague which broadens the appeal of the book. It could apply to any invading force.
John Steinbeck (1902 - 1968) was among the best known American writers of the 20th century. He won the 1962 Nobel Prize for literature. His 1939 Pulitzer Prize winning novel, "Grapes of Wrath" has over ten million copies in print.
Steinbeck was born in rural California, went to Stanford, and spent most of his life in California. He has been associated with the plight of farm workers and others. His books have been very popular and many were made into movies and stage productions. He won an Academy Award nomination for best story in 1944.
I have read a number of his novels and am still surprised with the quality of his work - especially his short stories and short novels, so the present collection is a great buy.
The collection has his famous short works and is not a heavy read. Each of the works takes one evening to read. I liked all the stories. Readers will appreciate the clarity of the prose, the characters, and the messages. This is a great value purchase and an interesting reading experience.
Written in 1937, when the Depression was still affecting all aspects of the farming community, this powerful novel depicts the lives of migrant workers--grim, pessimistic, and offering little hope for an improved future. Focusing on two characters who arrive in the Salinas Valley during peak season, Steinbeck creates touching scenes between Lenny, a big, severely limited worker who does not know his own strength, and George, a whippet-thin man who serves as Lenny's constant companion and protector.
Both Lenny and George have dreams of one day living on their own farm, where Lenny, who loves the feeling of soft things--even dead mice--wants to take care of rabbits. George hopes one day to benefit from his own hard work on his own farm and to create an environment where Lenny can be safe from his own impulses. As Steinbeck brings the characters on the ranch to life, he shows how every person there has dreams of a different life but few opportunities to change the lives they already have. Some are physically handicapped from accidents on farms, while others are emotionally handicapped by lack of opportunity or their own personal limitations.
Life is lonely, uncertain, and harsh but George tries to make life for Lenny more bearable by allowing him to have one of the new puppies in the barn. When Curley, the boss's son, brings his flirtatious wife to the farm, he introduces a new element which eventually leads to a tragic ending. Women are considered dangerous to the status quo, as they reinforce the need for "soft" elements in lives that otherwise offer little softness.
Giving vivid pictures of the natural surroundings while also creating vivid pictures of the interactions of these men, Steinbeck shows that even among those whose lives offer little hope, there is a desire to take advantage of each other. Crooks, the black stable hand who is forced to live alone in the barn, undermines Lenny. Carlson takes advantage of Candy's love for his old, smelly dog and causes pain to Candy. Lenny's puppy, Candy's dog, a heron capturing a water snake, and dreams of their own farm all become symbols which add to the drama of the conclusion. In this powerfully sad novel, Steinbeck offers little hope that the lives of these men will improve and even less hope that they will ever be able to control what happens to them. n Mary Whipple
on February 22, 2004
Overall, John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men is really a good book. Even though it's rather short, it delivers its message quite well. The book opens with George and Lennie near the Salinas River south of Soledad, California. Lennie is a big, loveable guy who isn't very smart, but is easily pleased. Lennie loves to stroke soft things, and has a mouse in his hands that he accidentally killed by petting it too hard. Lennie's portrayal is extremely sympathetic and sentimental, but I couldn't help but like him, regardless of his flaws. George is the little man behind Lennie; he acts as the big man's brain in guiding him and keeping him out of trouble. The two travel and work together and have a friendship unlike anything most other characters in the novel have ever experienced. The book really got me to feel like I knew the characters, especially Lennie, and to pity them. The underlying theme of man's innate loneliness and his need for companionship is a bit dark and pessimistic for my taste, but is delivered tactfully with the repeated story of George and Lennie's farm where Lennie will be able to tend rabbits while the two live off the fatta the lan' offers hope so the book can be easily stomached by someone with a more optimistic worldview. All things considered, I would definitely recommend this book for everyone to read; the ideas behind it should be considered by all.
on February 8, 2000
I thoroughly enjoyed this book from end to end. I give it a 4 ¾ star rating because of... oops this is still the introduction! I hope you enjoy this review and read the book!
The book is mainly about two men named Lennie and George and their travels to reach their dream of building a great farm and "livin' off the fatta da lan." I like this book because just by reading it you know that John Steinbeck put his heart and soul into this book. If "Of Mice and Men" were a food I would describe it as rich and satisfying. The only thing I didn't like about the book is that especially in the beginning it would go away from the story and describe the landscape it in great detail. Don't get me wrong! I like detail but it took too long to get back to the story. Speaking of detail. When the detail in then book was focused on the story it gave it an amazing effect! The character development in this book was also very good. From main characters like George to main characters like Crooks, John always let the reader know lot about the character. Finally, the dialogue in the book is excellent. Everything is said right and right at the correct time. WOW! I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys an enriching story but can handle a little tragedy.
This concludes my review of the book "Of Mice and Men" by John Steinbeck. For all of you who decide to read it... ENJOY!
on May 8, 2000
I read this book aged 15 for my GCSE English literature exam. Right from the start I fell in love with Steinbeck's unassuming, delicate language and his vividly real characters. The theme of loneliness on the "ranch" where the main characters work really haunts the reader, and we feel great sympathy for the barren lives lead by the characters - matched by the bleak, dusty Salinas landscape. All the main characters suffer from some form of prejudice, which in turn isolates them from the main thread of communication in the mid-west community - from Lennie, who is punished for his mental disability, to Candy, punished for his age, the negro, Crooks and the "jailbait", Curley's Wife. Each character suffers such absolute desolation in the face of promminence, I couldn't help feeling such strong empathy for the tragic people who inhabit this book. It is a credit to Stenbeck's unique eye for socialistic views and values that he draws such desparing, but neccassary, attention to the "abused" little man of 20's America.
Besides being a great classic, (I wont review the book because most people have done that here), Gary Sinese's reading is flawless! He's on top of my list for Audiobook readers. He does all of the different character voices masterfully! You wont be disapointed.
Bottomline: if you haven't got the time to read the book, Gary will engage you.