My English teachers have always had an affinity for John Steinbeck- and it’s not hard to see why. The last book my 7th grade English class read was The Pearl by John Steinbeck, and while I don’t remember the plot clearly, I remember that it was a very well-written short story. My current English teacher assigned another short story by the same author, the acclaimed Of Mice and Men.
Of Mice and Men isn’t any different- set in Northern California in during times of hardship (Great Depression), it tells the tale of two friends who want to buy a ranch, own some animals, and enjoy life. But as they are extremely destitute, they must work on a farm to raise enough money first.
In just a span of a few chapters, Steinbeck weaves a touching story about friendship, freedom and confinement, suffering, and almost any other universal theme imaginable. The twist at the end was heart-rending but not surprising, and you realize that not everything will always go your way, no matter how hard you try.
There’s one thing I think could’ve been improved: the story was slightly too short. Yes, I understand that it’s a short story meant to be simple and fast, but I felt that the reader didn’t have enough time to connect with the characters other than the two main protagonists. If the book would’ve spent slightly more time on the hope and joy that the benevolent characters were experiencing, rather than just skimming over it, it may have made the ending even more effective.
All in all, I definitely recommend Of Mice and Men as well as other books written by Steinbeck (including the one I’m currently reading, The Grapes of Wrath), as all of his short stories are extremely realistic and poignant.
John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.