The Great Depression is a famous time in our history, although it was also one of the hardest tests for our society – in which we failed miserably, by the way. The Nobel Prize winning author John Steinbeck chose to portray this time of despair and suffering by creating two traveling ranch workers for hire, George Milton and Lennie Small.
Of Mice and Men is a classic piece of literature, a whole different branch from good stuff like Dune of crap like Twilight. It is a required reading in many schools, which will of course at times cause it to be hated – but adored at the same time. I personally read it on High School as well (after seeing it in the theater) and the story really got to me; it will therefore be my pleasure to share this recommendation.
- Author: John Steinbeck
- First Edition: 1937
- Genre: Novella
United States of America during the Great Depression in the early 1930′s. Although we have another crisis going on these days, I believe it is very hard to imagine how bad it was, you would have to live through it. The capitalism was failing, jobs were lost, people were starving and, out of pure desperation, began to listen to idiotic (forgive the term) ideologies, such as fascism.
George and Lennie were counting on the fact that Depression or not, ranches still need some personal to keep going. They were a combination of a very intelligent (George) and very strong and huge (Lennie) men – but Lennie was somehow mentally undeveloped and kept a mind of a child. Lennie’s habit to stroke soft things have caused them a lot of trouble; they had to flee from their last job because of it.
Both men had a dream, they were not just trying to survive another day – they wanted to obtain enough money to buy their own piece of land and become independent. It is this dream alone that pulls mankind forward and gives jobs to those, shall we say, less brave to enter the entrepreneurship path.
George Milton and Lennie Small were wandering around California as ranch workers for hire, hoping to find another job for themselves. They succeed, but the situation in their new job is dyre – there is a boss’ son Curley, who didn’t grow much and heavily dislikes huge men (such as Lennie), and his provocative wife, who out of loneliness flirts with everyone around her.
But our hired duo also makes some new friends, and what’s much more important, their dream became closer than ever before – George makes a deal with Candy, an old ranch worker, that he will pitch in and join them on their new farm. George then gets less tense and decides to leave Lennie alone and go in town, presuming nothing bad can happen.
Lennie got himself a puppy, but due to his inhuman strength accidentally kills it while playing with it. Curley’s wife has nothing better to do than appear on the scene right after it happened and she finds Lennie a great conversation partner, because he has no problem with listening to her laments about her life failures.
The wife then, in exchange, offers Lennie to rub her hair. She unfortunately panics after Lennie touches her, because she is intimidated by his strong arms. Lennie panics too, but the result is much worse than some screaming – he breaks her neck and accidentally kills her.
Upon his return, George quickly finds out that Lennie’s hobby once again caused big trouble, bigger than ever before. He makes a decision and takes his best friend to the place where the story began, a meadow where they camped before they entered their fatal last job. George tells Lennie their dream story one last time and then shoots him in the back of the head, saving him the pain and horror of the inevitable lynch that would follow.
- 8 out of 10
The story doesn’t really matter that much; the important thing Steinbeck is trying to say is we need dreams. We need them to pull us forward, to achieve the impossible, to live how we deserve. Of Mice and Men has once again become a very contemporary book, because we need not to despair, but thrive and overcome the difficulties that economy serves us.
I can also recommend the theater versions, because if it was good translated and adapted in Czech, it must be only better in its native tongue.
Thank you for reading!
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