Ok, let me put it this way! I consider myself lucky to read this book – “Of Mice and Men” a notable work of John Steinbeck, a Noble Prize winner. Published in the year 1937, the book is one of the prized works of the author. Loved reading the book and here is my synopsis of the book.
“Of Mice and Men” talks about a very loving yet tragic friendship between two central characters George and Lennie, who are migrant ranch workers. “Friendship” is more of a family affair here, where the symbiotic relationship between George and Lennie is more like a father-son relationship. Lennie is so painfully cute that your heart aches to see a child caught in a man’s body while George is a sensible and hardworking man who adores Lennie to the world’s end and has a dream that one day he will have his own land (allowing Lennie to tend the soft rabbits on his land). Lennie has a bizarre fixation for stroking soft objects/animals which seems innocuous until he kills that animal. This fixation and resulting outcome turns out to be disastrous shattering their shared dream and threatening a painful death for Lennie. The character description of Lennie and George and their relationship is so precise and so well etched out that you can actually picture them having a dialogue, the characters so graphic and living in front of you!
Personally I felt that the language of this book is slightly profane, but then I realized that you cannot have a posh dialect in a ranch-labour setting! That would be hilarious, isn’t it? After all, it’s not in the “Victorian” setting that was supposed to be highly moralistic with straitlaced language and so on!! So this profanity-laced language is apt and in complete sync with the setting of the book.
One negative that I would like to emphasize on, is the very obvious racial slur that is highlighted in one of the chapters- calling a Black man a “coloured” man. This book was published around the time that the United States of America was surging with racial mutiny and so I wonder if this book was not perceived as one adding fuel to the fire!! It must surely have been the favourite of all the critics out there who must have banned this book for promoting racism. Also, relating to my earlier point on the language of this book, I am sure the critics must have freaked out on the vulgarity and offensive language dimension!
Also you might wonder why is the title of the book “Of Mice and Men” so un-relatable to the story? Yes, the book is about many “men” but the “mice” do not have any significance in the book. It could have been “Of Men and Rabbits” because Rabbits is all you hear in the book. Well, the title of this book is inspired by one of Robert Burn’s poems “To a Mouse, On Turning Her Up in Her Nest with a Plow” which refers to the dream George and Lenny share, of having a big ranch and rabbits that Lenny can tend to but ultimately fate had other things in store for them.
Though the book is just a 100-page one, it manages to resonate at a high emotional frequency, allowing you to immerse yourself in it and feel what the author wants you to feel- Lennie’s unadulterated love for George and George’s pure adoration for Lennie who he tries to protect from being exploited and eventually “painfully” killed.
To achieve this feat of making the reader get the “feels”, it’s common to see authors tending to stretch a novel and it then can round up to massive page-count! They say the “longer the better”- but Steinbeck clearly refuses to adopt this clichéd dictum, thus making it a “short and sweet” read – and an impactful one!