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Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck.

  • Date Submitted: 08/06/2011 12:57 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 42 
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John Steinbeck’s novel, Of Mice and Men, was first published in 1937. At the time, America was still suffering the grim aftermath of the depression and the itinerant workers who form the basis of the novel were very much within the consciousness of a nation separated by wealth yet driven by the idea of ‘the American dream’. Steinbeck’s novel is, however, essentially a tale of loneliness, of men struggling alone against a cold, uncaring and faceless destiny.
The central protagonists, George and Lennie are, as they are proud to proclaim, different from the others because they have each other. They are an odd couple, George the shrewd, wiry yet ultimately caring protector of the ironically named Lennie Small, who is, in fact, a huge man who doesn’t know his own strength and is mentally incapable of making the smallest of decisions for himself; he relies on George completely but equally, George needs Lennie as he gives him a reason to keep going. Lennie, despite his lack of intellect, senses this because when he knows George feels guilty for being angry with him, he takes advantage of the moment to manipulate George into repeating the story of their ‘dream future’, especially the rabbits they intend to keep with which Lennie is obsessed.

They are not related but Lennie’s aunt has brought up George and he has promised her that he will look after Lennie, now she has died. The secret dream they share, of building a life together on a ranch and ‘liv[ing] off the fatta the lan’ is central but the very title of the book, taken from Robert Burns’ poem ‘To a Mouse’ foreshadows the ultimate defeat of their dream, since it speaks of plans going wrong.

The two men are en route for another in a series of ranch jobs, having been run out of Weed, the place where they previously lived and worked, because Lennie has been wrongly accused of attempted rape because of his innocent desire to touch the material of a girl’s skirt; again there is foreshadowing here of the tragic...

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