Of Mice and Men, was a disturbing tale of friendship, and animosity and immoral
nature of the human race. Along the Salinas River and underneath the Gablian
Mountains of California during the Great Depression of the 1930’s this novel takes place.
A famous writer by the name of John Steinbeck, who was also born in California, is the
author of this book. He has also has written many other good books such as The Grapes
of Wrath, Cannery Row, and Winter of Our Discontent for which he won a Nobel Prize.
He is truly a great writer, and Of Mice and Men is no exception, but while reading this
book I was greatly troubled by its ending. I can see why it is an excellent novel, but at
the same time it left me with a kind of unpleasant feeling in the back of my mind. I can’t
see how an author could write a book with such a short and sudden ending. The last
images he leaves the reader with is George and Slim walking off as Curly says “ Now
what in the hell is eating them?” thus the book ends on a harsh, cruel note, topped off by
the lack of understanding and compassion of an extraordinarily immoral and cruel man.
Whatever Steinbeck’s intent for writing such a jarring ending, he leaves the reader with a
powerful sense of the world’s immorality.
In this book there were several characters, but only a few had significant roles. I
would have to say Lennie is the protagonist of the book even though George is an
extremely critical character as well. Lennie Small is described as being a monstrous man
with the mind of a child, a shapeless face, big pale eyes, sloping shoulders, and big feet
that dragged a bit when he walked, much like a bear. George has taken Lennie under his
wing and thus Lennie depends solely on George for everything. Ever since Lennie has
been with George, he has told Lennie stories of a great place, with a cabin all to their
selves, and rabbits for Lennie to care for. This leads me to his next obsession for feeling
and caressing soft things such as fur, velvet, or human hair. This is eventually his
downfall as when he kills Curley’s wife when he wants to feel her hair. Lennie is not an
evil or devious man. He’s just a little senseless. Lennie’s good will and purity of
intention is never in question during this book, but his memory operates poorly, and he is
able to only remember such details as particular words and phrases as if only George tells
him. Lennie is a good person it’s just his difficulty to think about his actions that
eventually costs him his life.
George is the other main character in Of Mice and Men. He’s just an ordinary man,
who is obligated to take care of Lennie, and does a fair job of it. His relationship with
Lennie is admittedly a close one, but it is more fatherly than anything else and certainly
has no time for the intellectual give and take that is needed to look after Lennie. The
author defines George’s features as restless, with strong small hands, thin arms, and a
bony nose. From reading this you can tell George has an incredible work ethic as he has
to put up with Lennie and still continuously find work for both of them. As you read this
book you see that George is gradually starting to accept Lennie, but then that all ends
when George is faced with the choice of letting Lennie be killed by Curley or just doing
it himself. Either way George is faced with a morally impossible task. As you know he
ends up shooting Lennie himself in a tragic ending.
Slim is not so much a main character, but is a critical piece to the book. He best
described as the Prince of the ranch, a skilled workman, and a great friend to all in the
bunkhouse. Curley is infuriated at the fact that everyone looks up to Slim instead of
cowering at the power of himself. In times of Crisis Slim quietly and gracefully helps to
solve whatever problem has arisen. This is why he was loved and endeared by all who
Curley is an arrogant stuck up man with a hatred for big men, such as Lennie. He
could be classified as the villain of the book, as he is constantly making life miserable for
Lennie and George. He is exactly like his father, who is the boss of the ranch, which
makes clear the family pattern of bullies. Obviously Curley is insecure about himself
since he is constantly looking to boss people around throughout the course of this novel.
Curley’s wife comes across as overly flirty with the workers of the ranch. This is in
turn what probably gets her killed when she allows Lennie to feel her hair, which then
she inaddvertainly gets her neck broken when Lennie gets nervous. She is not a main
character, but much like Slim plays a vital role in the plot line.
Of Mice and Men starts out when George and his retarded friend Lennie get jobs
working on a Californian ranch bucking barley. They soon fit in, and everyone pretty
much accepts Lennie, except for the boss’s son Curley who hates him because of his
disability and size. Other than that everything is fine until one day when Lennie is in the
barn playing with the puppies Curley’s wife comes in and starts flirting with him. As the
conversation between the two progresses, she allows Lennie to touch her long, soft hair.
As I said Lennie loves soft things, and when she tells Lennie to stop he refuses, and
Curley’s wife starts to scream. This is when Lennie gets nervous and tries to make her be
quiet. Not realizing his own strength he inadvertently breaks her neck, killing her
instantly. Once he realizes what he’s done he runs to the secret spot by the river where
George told him to go if he ever got into trouble. An old ranch hand by the name of
Candy finds the body and tells George. When Curley finds the body of his wife he seems
to be more set on killing Lennie than feeling any kind of remorse or sadness.George
knows where his friend is at and runs to find him knowing what must be done. Once he
reaches the stream Lennie comes out of some bushes to great George. He seems to have
no recollection of what he had just done. He asks George to tell him one more time about
their dream farm, and the rabbits. George begins to tell it, and at the same time tells
Lennie to turn around so he can invision it a little better. This is when George pulls out
his gun and shoots Lennie in the back of the head, killing him. As the book ends Slim
walks up knowing what just happened, and it ends as the two of them walk down the road
together while Curley says“ Now what in the hell is eating them?”
While reading Of Mice and Men I picked up on some main ideas that the author brings
across such as friendship and just how cruel people can be to one another. After reading
this book I will have a little more compassion for someone that is weaker than me
because everyone has some form of good quality inside them thus making everyone in
some ways equal. An example of this is the kindness and patience Slim shows Lennie
even though Slim has no obligation to. He sees the good qualities in Lennie and respects
him for them. This is what Mr.Steinbeck was trying to portray in the characters of this
book. He also shows the flip side of this by his ending showing the reader what hatred
can do to a man, as with Curley so hell-bent on killing Lennie instead of grieving for his
wife. Also throughout the course of this book it is no question that George goes through
the most change. It is evident that he learns to care for Lennie by what he does at the
conclusion of this book. He didn’t want to kill his friend, but he couldn’t have seen
Curley kill him either. He will undoubtedly never forget what he had to do, and that is an
action that he will have to live with the rest of his life. The author is simply trying to
bring across human nature in its simplest form, good and bad. He’s showing the reader
just how compassionate or cruel people can be towards one another.
This was an interesting book with an intriguing plot, and disturbing ending.
Personally the ending moved me, but at the same time I was angry for it to end so
suddenly. Mr.Steinbeck is a great writer, and did a good job of showing me the extremes
of human nature. After reading this book it makes you think about how cruel someone
can be to another of the same flesh and blood. All in all the ideas in Of Mice and Men
will be with me for the rest of my life. If you want to read a book that will open your
eyes and leave you stunned, Of Mice and Men is the book to read.