Of Mice And Men 6 Essay, Research Paper
Of Mice and Men
Written by John Steinbeck
The novel being reviewed is John Steinbeck s novel entitled Of Mice and Men which was originally going to be called Something That Happened. But in May 1936 his puppy (a setter called Toby) ate the written manuscript! This left him with two months work to do over again. Steinbeck got up at dawn every morning to write. After months of intense work, the novel was finished by the second week of August 1936, and sent off to his agent, Elizabeth Otis.
Shortly before it was published, Of Mice and Men was chosen by the ‘Book-of-the-Month’ Club, guaranteeing it a large audience and big sales. Steinbeck found the news “gratifying but also frightening”. The book was a big success; it was published in early February 1937 and by mid February had sold 117,000 copies. “That’s a hell of a lot of books, ” said Steinbeck.
As it leapt into the bestseller lists, it made Steinbeck suddenly a famous author. He was now a public person, and there were parties in his honor (in New York). But his shyness and need for privacy made this difficult for him. When he finally got away for a well-earned holiday in Europe, Steinbeck wrote in a letter: “I just need to get away from being John Steinbeck for a little while.”
Of Mice and Men is a story of loneliness, love, and need. A story of homeless and rootless men who have nothing or nobody except each other. Steinbeck expresses that everybody gets lonely, everybody needs somebody, a friend. Crooks, the black stable hand said it plain and simple, A guy needs somebody- to be near him. He whined a guy goes nuts if he ain t got nobody. Don t make no difference who the guy is, long s he s with you. I tell ya, he cried, I tell ya a guy gets too lonely, an he gets sick.
The novel is based in John s hometown of Salinas, California. In the beginning of the novel, the two travelers are on the sandy bank of the Salinas River. They are coming from another job in Weed (also in California), which is very far north of Salinas. Although the time period is never mentioned in the book, we can assume it was early 1950’s when there were a lot of labor jobs, and all jobs were hard labor in the country. The duration of the story is less than a month, about 1 or 2 weeks. For most of the time George, Lennie, and the other farmhands are in living the bunkhouse on a farm in the Salinas Valley.
Steinbeck had four major characters, George Milton (protagonist), Lennie Small (also Protagonist), Slim, and Curley (the antagonist).
George Milton is small, quick, dark of face and eyes, short tempered and bossy, restless, and likes to complain. He is also Lennie’s friend, but he is very dominating of Lennie, by telling him what to do, where to go, and when to do it. However, he is passionate about protecting him from the harm of others and he keeps dreaming of the little place they are going to have someday all their own. Both he and Lennie are the protagonists of Steinbeck s novel.
Lennie Small is huge, shapeless, pale eyes, and slow moving. He has a heavy walk, drags his feet, like a bear drags its paws. He is mentally slow and is none too bright. He kills mice; not on purpose, but because he is big and is just not gentle with the mice. He tries to be good, and tries to do what is right, or at least he tries to remember what George tells him to do.
Slim (last name not given) is an important person to the novel, even though he was not as major as Lennie, or George. Slim is a friend to George who offers his sympathy and rationalized opinion. He is a calm, mature, understanding skinner, who tries to sympathize with George s final decision, to shoot and kill his simpleminded companion.
Curley (the boss son) is a small arrogant, rude, egotistical and insolent person. He does not seem to care about anybody except himself and his wife. He seems to have a lot of anger towards people who are bigger than him, which means Lennie. Yet Lennie is afraid of him even though Curley is so much smaller than he is. Lennie does not have mean instincts at all, let alone the way Curley s mean instincts are.
The first conflict came about while the boss is asking Lennie some questions kind of like an interview. Since George tells Lennie not to talk or answer any of the question, Lennie does not, and George does. The boss became very suspicious of them and said he is going to keep an eye on the two of them. George resolved this man vs. man conflict just by explaining to the boss that Lennie is not very bright, but he is very strong and can do anything you teach him to do.
The second conflict is with Curley; a lot of man vs. man conflicts involve Curley. Curley likes to start trouble with big guys. When he comes in looking for his wife, he meets Lennie and he starts asking lots of questions, Lennie just looks at George and then George answers for him. Again this causes trouble and it is resolved when George is told to mind himself and Lennie is instructed to answer when he is spoken to.
Curley later has an internal conflict, he does not trust his wife, and when he comes into the bunkhouse looking for her, he notices that Slim is missing and inquires where he is. He is told that Slim is out in the barn. He hurriedly left for the barn, expecting to find his tart wife and slim together. This conflict is resolved when Curley finds only Slim in the barn and they return arguing over his wife.
Lennie also has an internal conflict. He is trying to figure out what to do about his dead puppy. While Lennie was playing with it, it sort of snapped at him and Lennie didn t like that at all, so he slapped the puppy too hard and killed it. He did not want to tell George because then he will not let Lennie take care of the rabbits. And Lennie loves the rabbits. He resolves it when he decides to bury the puppy and not tell anyone. Even though he knows George will automatically know, kind of like God would.
In the fifth conflict Lennie deals with underestimating his strength again, and it becomes another man vs. man. Curley s sweet-talkin wife comes into the barn and begins to converse with Lennie about her loneliness, and how she did not and never will love her husband. After a while she becomes comfortable with Lennie and they began talking about soft things. She then invites him to stroke her long soft mane. He begins to hold onto it very tightly, she begins to scream, he tells her to stop and she did not so he starts to shake her, and he then shakes her too hard, consequently he unintentionally snaps her delicate spine. When Lennie realized what he had done, he left. He left and went to hide in the brush by the sandy banks of the Salinas River, just like George told him to.
The resolution to George s internal conflict ends everything. George knows what must be done; he must kill his slow simpleminded best friend, before Curley mercilessly does. He tells Lennie to look off in the distance and just imagine their little house, the rabbits, the field, and he tells Lennie that they is gonna live on the fatta the lan . George tells Lennie that he ain t mad. He repeats Lennie s wish to get the place now, and he shoots Lennie in the back of the head. Lennie just falls to the ground with a smile on his lips and sweet thoughts in his simple mind.
Throughout the novel you never know what anybody is thinking. It is told from a narrator outside of the story. This makes this novel third person limited. Steinbeck did not need to write it from third person omniscient because that would present too much information and too many different ideas.
Steinbeck wrote the novel from a slice of life style. All of the farmhands speak plain English, and sound uneducated. The boss, Curley, and his wife seem to speak as if they feel that they are better than every one else, yet their speech also sounds somewhat uneducated.
This novel is a good read, it is enjoyable, well written, and a timeless classic. It is as relevant today as it probably was in the late 1930 s. As two young men on a highway hitching a ride to California, making new friendships, and making their own stronger.