Thoughts on Book #4: Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

I selected this book off the list to buy me more time with Demanding the Impossible, truth be told.  It’s kind of hard to finish a 700-page book in a timely fashion (even in a week). What I didn’t expect to have happen, however, was to not be able to put Of Mice and Men down, and the crushing feeling of tragedy that I got from the book’s end.

In case you didn’t read this in high school (I didn’t), Of Mice and Men is a short novel by John Steinbeck about the lives of two men, George and Lennie, who are traveling through California looking for work to raise money to buy their own ranch.  George looks after Lennie, whom he says “ain’t too bright,” but from the look of it is probably autistic.  We learn that they come to the ranch in the book because they had to leave the last one they worked on; Lennie apparently has a penchant for getting into trouble, though not for any malicious means. The story proceeds from their arrival to what could only be described as an incredibly tragic end.

I was going to say I related to George in this, but in reality, I relate more to Lennie.  Lennie always seems to wreck the good thing he gets, but not intentionally. There’s one part where he gets a puppy, and he’s so excited about it that he accidentally kills it. I know what that’s like, to some extent.  There’ve been a lot of good things I’ve had that I’ve completely derailed either by my own excitement about it, or by some sort of distraction. I wanted to cry many times when I read Lennie’s portions of this book because I’ve felt like he does after he messes something up.

One thing I really appreciate about this book is that it’s making me like Steinbeck again.  I had to read East of Eden in high school, and while I started to like it, it kind of traumatized me on Steinbeck (as high school often does with classic literature). However, with how gripping this story is, and the way that Steinbeck effectively writes a picture on the page, I want to pick him up some more of his work.


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