Book Report: Of Mice of Men
“Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world,” and yes, Lennie and George were, indeed, the loneliest guys in the world. The book Of Mice and Men is a book that was published in the 1937 by John Steinbeck. John Steinbeck was born in February 27, 1902and died in December 20, 1968. He wrote a total of twenty-seven books and out of those books, he won the Pulitzer Prize for the novels The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men. Steinbeck not only wrote novels, but also served as a war correspondent during World War II. Later on he had died from a heart disease and congestive heart failure due to his many years of smoking. In our history classes, 1937 might sound a bit familiar to us. Yes, Steinbeck wrote this book during the period when the United States went through an economic crisis, the Great Depression. During this period, many people had suffered as they found trouble finding jobs and making money. Steinbeck uses the Great Depression as the setting of the story. While writing Of Mice of Men, Steinbeck applies his personal experience from working on the ranches during the summer. Throughout this paper, I would like to talk about the summary of the story, the themes, and the motifs.
Steinbeck starts the story off with two migrant field workers trying to find another job after losing their last one. George is man who is small, but very intelligent. On the other hand, his best friend Lennie is a big and mentally challenged man with uncontrollable strength. His strength is described “uncontrollable” because he has a tendency to kill a mouse whenever he tries to pet one in his hand. As the story goes on, the two wonderers finally find a job at a ranch. Of course, George did all the talking with the boss and telling him that Lennie has a “tragic” accident and that he would take care of him. As the story goes on, George and Lennie start to make friends as they share their dream of a farm paradise. At first, the strangers laughed at George and Lennie’s dream, but they soon change their mind and contribute in being in George and Lennie’s farm paradise.
Towards the end of the story, Lennie is in a barn by himself, hating himself after killing his own puppy. Lennie’s boss’ son’s wife comforts Lennie and starts to tell her dream of being a movie star. Although she is very upset with her marriage and flirts with other people, she still tries to have a dream to comfort her. Lennie later on feels her hair and starts to grab on it very tightly. As she cries and tells him to stop, Lennie doesn’t have a clue to what he is doing wrong and tells her to stop crying. He then grabs her neck and accidently kills her. Lennie panics and runs away to a safe place where George told him to go.
Curley, the husband of the dead wife, later finds out that his wife is dead and immediately accuses Lennie. He orders his workers to find Lennie and to kill him. George carries one of his friend’s guns and finds Lennie. As George and Lennie sit on top of a hill, George tells him to imagine the farm paradise and think about how much fun they will have. Lennie tells him that he sees is very clear and then George shoots him with the gun. George killed him because he thought that if he hadn’t killed him, he would suffer too much in this world. The story concludes with a sad ending, but Steinbeck gives us a very clear picture of what the Great Depression looked like.
In this book, there are many motifs and themes that show what the Great Depression was like. One of motifs was that the wealth had more power than the weak. This was represented many times throughout the book. One of the examples is when Lennie accidently kills the mouse, puppy, and Curely’s wife. This shows that Lennie is more powerful than the weak. Another example would be Candy’s dog. As the workers found the dog old and useless, they suggest Candy to kill the dog and just get a new puppy. This represents that the weak had no power and had no voice. Although everyone is the same human being, the weak are completely shunned by the ones who have more strength.
From this book, we can also find many themes. One example would be the idea of friendship. This theme is represented by the friendship between George and Lennie. Even through the Great Depression, George continues to take care of Lennie even through the end. Their dream of a farm paradise and taking care of each other really shows how strong their bond is. Another theme would be the impossibility of the American Dream. The American dream is that if we work hard, we can achieve it, but Steinbeck proves that sometimes, things could be impossible to achieve. For example, although George and Lennie worked so hard to try to achieve their dream, it was impossible for them to achieve such a goal. Steinbeck proves that there are certain dreams when the American Dream cannot stand. It is freedom. Even though Lennie didn’t end up with George in paradise, George thinks that Lennie is already at the farm waiting for him to come.
In conclusion, we can learn many motifs and themes from this tragic story. The book not only entertains us with suspense and tragedy, but also gives us a great overview of what the Great Depression was like. Steinbeck shows the motif power over the weak several times in the story because the power really did overcome the weak. Today, we can see that in certain areas, this motif is still true, but now people have a voice. Also Steinbeck shows many themes throughout this book such as friendship and the impossibility of the American Dream. For these two themes, he shows it in a very tragic and sad way. Although this world is not a place where paradise and freedom exists, we can still live to our fullest. As Mae West once said, “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough”.