“The best laid schemes of mice and men go often awry…” (from “To a Field Mouse” by Robert Burns)
Of Mice and Men, whose title comes from the poem mentioned above, is a novella set during the Great Depression that describes the difficult life of workers on a ranch in California. George Milton, a small, intelligent man, and Lennie, a large man who is also mentally challenged, have formed a tight friendship and have come to depend on one another. The two men dream of one day owning their own land, with their own farm and livestock. When the pair acquires a job on a new ranch, everything seems to be going exactly as planned, until a flirtatious woman suddenly throws their lives into chaos.
In my opinion, the characters in the book are what make the plot so interesting and intriguing. George and Lennie are exact opposites; George is quick-witted, while Lennie isn’t able to comprehend as swiftly. I was specifically drawn to Lennie, due to his childlike innocence and need to please everyone around him. Lennie’s naiveté is best illustrated through his love to pet soft things, such as mice and rabbits. While Lennie does cause a lot of trouble for his partner, George can’t stand to leave him, since Lennie is such a nice person who doesn’t intend to hurt anyone. For this reason, I empathized with both of the men and wanted them to achieve their goal.
John Steinbeck is one of the most renowned American authors of the 20th century, best known for his realistic fiction works. Although the writing in Of Mice and Men is not very complex, Steinbeck is able to thoroughly describe the plot. In addition to painting a vivid image in your mind, he portrays numerous themes throughout the book such as friendship and the power of dreams and hopes. Another theme that Steinbeck depicts is the strengths and weaknesses of mankind.
Of Mice and Men is certainly one of those classics that everyone must read at least once in their lifetime. I consider it one of my favorites because of all the different plot lines, and how it displays the nature of humanity. Even though this novella is on my Top 10 Classics List, I would only recommend it to anyone eighth grade and above, due to its strong language and mature subject. However, once you have read it, I can guarantee that it will lead you to question your behavior toward people who are different, your own morals, and how the ethics of society can really make a change, good and bad, in a person’s life.
-Kaylie W., 9th grade