Monday, February 23, 2009

Book Review: Of Mice and Men

Of Mice and Men
by John Steinbeck
105 pages

This book fell under the "read a book you read in high school" category of the Winter Book Challenge. I feel like I remember surprisingly few books that I read in High School. To Kill a Mockingbird, Romeo and Juliet, The Grapes of Wrath, and Of Mice and Men are all that really come to mind. I know that there are more, but I just can't think of them! Anyways, I picked Of Mice and Men because it's the one that I remember the least about even though I remember the class that I read it for very well since the teacher, Mr. Bailey, was one of my favorites! He was a laid back, free thinking, varsity baseball coaching, former (?) hippie kind of teacher who every one thought was awesome. Unfortunately, the themes of this book got lost in my memory of that class in exchange for Mr. Bailey's stories of hitch hiking across the US in the seventies. (Don't worry, he always told us that this was a poor decision on his part and hitch hiking is dangerous! haha).

Anyways, this book is about two men, George Milton and Lennie Smalls, who are traveling together and working on ranches during the Great Depression in California. George has promised to take care of Lennie since he is "not too bright" and it is evident that Lennie has some mental handicaps. George has a plan to make some money and buy a piece of land so him and Lennie can live off their own land and Lennie will be safe. Lennie just seems to get in trouble because he doesn't understand rules, social conduct, or his own strength.

As George and Lennie begin working at a new ranch, their dream of owning their own place seems to be becoming more of a reality until Lennie accidentally kills the ranch owner's son's wife while trying to stroke her hair (he likes to pet soft things). A lynch mob is formed to go get Lennie but George finds him first and takes his friend's life himself to save him from a painful death.

I definitely got more out of this book this time around. There are several themes running through this short novella that I didn't remember from reading it the first time such as loneliness, love, dreams, and friendship. All through the book, George is questioned for traveling with Lennie since most migrant ranch workers travel alone and for having a dream of owning his own place when few men actually achieve it. And in the end, with Lennie gone, George just becomes another lone migrant worker with a far fetched dream that will probably never happen.

8 out of 10 stars. Definitely a good read, especially for the hour and a half or so it would take to finish.

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