Of Mice & Men – John Steinbeck

READ FOR BOOKCLUB

Chosen by Rachel

A 1937 novella which details the life of George and Lennie, two displaced migrants looking for ranch work in Southern California during a time of drought when the land was barren.

George is the central character. He’s described as small of stature, but a strong-willed man who is in charge and is not afraid to speak his mind. He has a firm plan, to save enough money to set up a small stakeholding.

His off-sider Lennie is a large, strong man but is simple and does not understand his strength nor have much self control. He relies on George to look after him and lead him through life. He likes nothing more than to hear George talk of their dreams of owning land, in particular the part where Lennie gets to look after the rabbits.

The pair get work on a ranch and we meet a handful of characters who support the themes of loyalty and compassion, loneliness and ambitions, for they all hope for something more than an empty existence. Yet being in close quarters without much to call your own and when times are hard can bring about unfortunate circumstances.

Of Mice & Men is widely considered a classic though it has been subjected to censorship for various reasons including vulgarity, treatment of women and the close friendship of the men. Bans have been in place off and on since 1937 right up until this century.

I ain’t got no people. I seen the guys that go around on the ranches alone. That ain’t no good. They don’t have no fun. After a long time they get mean. They get wantin’ to fight all the time. . . ‘Course Lennie’s a God damn nuisance most of the time, but you get used to goin’ around with a guy an’ you can’t get rid of him.

© Of Mice and Men is a tribute to literature and to humanity. It understands the complexities of relationships in a simply told story. It has influenced pop culture and human nature so much that reading the book in this day and age feels like the story is already known. It must have been a shock and a delight to read it upon first publication. One of my favourite all time books. I have thought of this book a lot since I first read it and the joy of a re-read is nearly just as good.” – Rachel

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Published 1937
Covici Friede
187 pages

 

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