Thursday, October 27, 2016

Of Mice and Men

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Of Mice and Men
John Steinbeck
Pascal Covici, 1937



I had to read Of Mice and Men for English class.  I must say, that while I typically enjoy reading books and analyzing them in English, I am not a huge fan of this book.

Of Mice and Men tells the story of Lennie and George, two vagabond workers who wander around California seeking work as laborers during the Great Depression.

The book describes George as a small and nimble man who knows his way around, is crass but caring, and very loyal.  Lennie is a large child-like man who has a mental delay which causes him to rely pretty heavily upon George's guidance.

The pair get a job working on a ranch where they meet several colorful characters including Curley, an insecure bully, Curley's wife, a suppressed ditz, Crooks, an African American who dreams of companionship, and Slim, an old man who has all but given up on life.

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Lennie has a bad habit of touching things he shouldn't and getting overwhelmed when people panic.  After awhile getting to know the aforementioned characters, Lennie spends some time with Curley's wife during which he pets her soft hair.  She asks him to stop, and when he doesn't, she begins to panic.

Lennie gets confused and overwhelmed and eventually snaps her neck.

Curley goes after Lennie hoping to shoot him in the stomach so he can die a painful death in revenge for killing his wife.  Lennie runs away and hides down by the river.

George ends up shooting Lennie in the head doing him in quickly so that Curley can't kill him slowly.

First off, some cons.

I didn't particularly like the writing style or setting of the story.  I am not a fan of country-ish books, or books written to sound country-like, such as Mark Twain books, or even this one which took place during the Great Depression.  I don't know why, but it just bothers me when all the dialogue is just swearing and poor grammar.

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Anyway, I got over that, but I was bored throughout the book anyway.  The climax doesn't come until the very end of the book and the rest of the story is just hearing the background of these ranch hands who don't really push the story along too much.  This book is more an analysis of characters rather than a clearly motivated plot.

I didn't really care for the characters, either.  Sure I felt a little bad for all of them (except Curley) and wanted them to have a happy ending, but I just wasn't engaged.

This book didn't keep my attention, so I found myself kind of skimming for awhile, which may be why I don't really care that much about it.  Perhaps the book is not to blame, but I'm just a poor reader :/

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There are some good things to the book, though.

Even though I wasn't particularly invested in the characters, they are very realistic.  Maybe that's even the reason I wasn't that interested.  They are so realistic that I don't find them that intriguing.  If I'm surrounded by people just like them, why would I want to also read about them??  I dunno, again maybe this is my own problem not the books.

The book does have some good themes, and a very controversial ending.  Was George right in shooting Lennie?  I also liked all the symbolism, because symbolism is one of my favorite things to analyze.

Have you read Of Mice and Men?  What do you think of the ending?

5 comments:

  1. I would say It's one of the worst books i've ever read. Mainly for the reasons you stated and the ending was pretty good in my opinion but it wasn't worth the wait.

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    1. I agree with you, I think it wasn't worth it also.

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  2. I haven't read this book, but I have read "The Grapes of Wrath" ,"Travels With Charlie" and "The Pearl" and I think they're the two books that most inspired me to write myself. I think a lot of his style has to do with the things he saw in the world that are wrong with it. Even more than entertainment, he's showing us his vision of what people are like in the world he lived in.

    I don't always agree with is vision, but actually I think that's one reason I like some of his work. It tells me about him and I feel like I get to know him when I read his books.

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    1. *the first two (Grapes of wrath and Travels With Charlie) inspired me to write. I read the pearl fairly recently and I think it's my least favorite of the trio.

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    2. It's true, he does inject a lot of his character into his writing. I've never read those other books, but even just in Mice and Men you can really get a good idea of his opinions. I'm glad they inspired you though, that is probably the best thing a book can ever hope to do.

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