Of Mice and Men
Author: John Steinbeck
They are and unlikely pair…
George is small and quick and smart. Lennie is big and strong. Together they go from place to place looking for work. Settling on a ranch in Salinas Valley for their next job, George tells Lenny that he must keep to himself. No trouble, like with the last job. George convinces Lenny that if he can stay away from both of them, they’ll go build a farm of their own with all kinds of animals that Lenny can help take care of.
With Curly, the son of the ranch owner, making moves to start a fight and his wife hanging around, making a nuisance of herself, there’s trouble abound. George can’t always be around to protect Lenny from them and can’t even fathom the consequences should Lenny stray away from what George has taught him.
This book marks 16 out of 25 authors, from my New Year’s resolution, that I’ve never read from before. This was a book that many read in high school, except me. I read The Picture of Dorian Gray, so I was excited to finally get a taste of Steinbeck.
There’s a sophistication and a simplicity to Steinbeck’s way of writing. This story was short, so it was quick to read. In such a short span, he explored the lives of two different men and how the world views them and how they view each other. George works twice as hard to take care of himself and his cousin, Lenny. Lenny is like a child and has little understanding of gentleness and adult situations. With Lenny being mentally challenged and during a time period when people didn’t have a full understanding of what that meant, it was truly tragic. Lenny didn’t have a strong measurement of right and wrong, nor the memory to conceive it all that well. Right from the get-go, you know there’s no real future or happy ending for Lenny. That George is only humoring him.
The characters weren’t complex at all, which I liked. Each were very upfront with no hidden secrets to be discovered later. Everything was on the surface, and you knew instantly what was going to happen. Sometimes that kind of anticipation is one I like. I get to hope it won’t happen and then it does anyway. It’s a strange feeling but a refreshing one
The imagery was so powerful. I was blown by how vivid it was. The lush description was just leaving me in awe. So beautiful, adding to the story. From the setting to the way the time period was captured through how the character’s spoke really put me in the story.
Notes were all along the margins in this book. Reading them as I read the book brought up a question. Many people can’t stand writing in their books. Its sacrilege! Yet, there are those who do it because a passage stuck with them or to gain a deeper understanding of what they’re reading. I really like them if they’re going along with the book. It’s like reading along with somebody else and getting their input. It’s the shadow they left on the pages. I liked it. How you do you feel about writing in the margins of your books?
While this book was tragic, I found it oddly beautiful. Some of the world’s most beautiful things are tragic, though. So well-structured and written. Steinbeck writes in a way that is both gripping and touching. My heart pounded and I got sappy.
“I seen guys nearly cray with loneliness for land…” (Crook, p. 76)
More to come soon…
P.S. Song today? If I Die Young by The Band Perry.
Thoughts? Tell me in the comments below.