Over the holiday break this winter, I was assigned to read John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. Compared to most of the assigned novels I’ve read, Of Mice and Men was a relatively quick read with a plot that refused to slow down, something that kept me on my toes.
Steinbeck sets the scene in rural California in the midst of the Great Depression. Lennie and George, two ranch hands, live day by day, trying to find whatever work they can. However, Lennie’s mental limitations leave George in charge of keeping them employed and ultimately as a caretaker for Lennie. Despite their best efforts, Lennie and George go on the run after an incident at their previous job. This lands them at their final destination further south at another ranch with hopes of attaining the American dream. It is up to Lennie and George to keep their nose to the grindstone and reach their goal of owning their own land with rabbits of course (Lennie’s favorite animal).
Further along in the novel, George is faced with a gut-wrenching moral dilemma in which Lennie’s life is threatened, along with their dream of freedom. 187 short pages later, I am left with a multitude of feelings: confusion, anger, sadness, and after reflection, satisfaction. Of Mice and Men conveys the harsh reality that the American Dream is somewhat unattainable due to man’s limits.
Despite the depressing mood, the novel made me feel for both George and Lennie. I could connect with both of them while reading and truly understand their struggles. Steinbeck’s writing is beautifully concise, yet descriptive, and makes you face the inevitable decision George made.
Of Mice and Men is the perfect quick for anyone’s free time. It greatly speaks and connects to our society today and the ethical situations we face daily.