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Title: Of Mice and Men
Author: John Steinbeck
Rating: 1 of 5 Stars
Format: Digital Edition
George and Lennie are looking for work. George has a dream of owning his own little bit of land some day and all Lennie wants is to have rabbits so he can pet them. George has been looking after Lennie for years and benefits from his lack of intelligence and from his brawn.
On a new farm, they come across an old one handed worker who has half the price saved up to buy the piece that George has his eye on. All George and Lennie need to do is work one month, collect their pay, pool it with the third man and then they can “live on the fat of the land”.
Their new boss has a young son who is recently married. The young man, Curly, has a chip on his shoulder and is always fighting those who are bigger than him. He takes an immediate dislike to Lennie and Lennie simply doesn’t understand what is going on. Curly’s wife has a roving eye and wants socialness, something that she just isn’t getting from Curly or life on a ranch.
She corners Lennie one afternoon to talk to him, since she knows he’s too stupid to go away. Lennie feels her hair, as he has a weak spot for soft things. This frightens Curly’s wife and Lennie freezes up. She starts to scream and Lennie puts his hand over her mouth to stop her and ends up breaking her neck. He runs away to a special spot that George told him to go to if he ever got in trouble.
Curly gets together the men of the ranch to hunt down Lennie and makes sure George is with them. George knows where Lennie is and steals a gun from one of the other ranch hands. He finds Lennie and tells him the wonderful story about the place they are going to own to distract Lennie. George then shoots Lennie, killing him instantly so that he won’t suffer at the hands of a lynching led by Curly.
The book ends with George giving up on his dream of a place of his own and resigning himself to spending his monthly pay on whores and whiskey.
What a fantastically written horrible book. As much as I wish it weren’t true, Steinbeck can write. His books are considered Classics for a reason. By the end of this little tiny novella, George and Lennie felt as real to me as anyone I know from my work.
That being said, Steinbeck was an asshole in choosing to waste his talents on such horrible subject matters. My take is that Steinbeck wanted to show the worst parts of life, and only the worst parts, and then extrapolate that ALL of life is that bad. Meaningless, hopeless and ultimately completely futile.
I had read the Red Pony back in 7th grade and it so affected me, negatively, that I have never read another book by Steinbeck until now. I wanted to see if growing older and more mature made a difference in how I viewed his writing. Nope,not one jot.
What a waste. A waste of talent, a waste of a life, a waste of such potential. I don’t mourn, but it does sadden me that people can make such choices and do such things.