Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck

August 10, 2009 § Leave a comment

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I picked this book from off my shelf this morning for two reasons. One, was because it’s on my TBR list, and two, because my dad was complaining to me the other day about how this book has no appeal to him at all. In fact, my dad challenged me (he CHALLENGED me!) to finish the book, which he didn’t get past page 4.

Well, I got through the book in about 3-4 hours. It has only 103 pages. But I spent quite a substantial amount of time after reading the book in thought.

I almost don’t know what to say about this book.

The story starts with two men on their way to a ranch with the intention of working. At this point, there is a lot of mystery over what made the pair leave their original ranch. There are certain things being said between the two of them that seem to point towards a half-answer, but one never really understands the whole story until the end. And even then, Steinback leaves much room for our own imaginations to take over.

What I found most intriguing about this book was the development and relationship between each and every single one of the characters in the story. There is George and Lennie, the two men at the beginning of the story; and then there are the people at the ranch. Steinback doesn’t even attempt to describe any of the men, but almost leave it up to us to decide whether the person is likable or not simply by our reading the conversations they have with each other, the feelings that the author describes, and the actions that the characters do.

There was one character in the story who happened to be black. I don’t think it coincidence that this fellow’s name should be Crooks. There is a certain negative vibe being imposed upon this character, what with the choice of his name, the fact that he is the only man of colour in the ranch, and that he is not allowed to sleep with the other men in the same room, but asked to keep to his own quarters that has “a manure pile under the window”. I say imposed, because at the same time that all these negative impressions are presented, the man himself is depicted to be a kind soul, someone who actually knows right from wrong but is unable to do anything about his circumstances. The ability of the author to instill a sort of commonality between the reader and one particular character is quite, quite amazing.

I think this book has many many more layers to it, and reading it just this once is probably not enough for me to see through all the layers. But it had been an interesting read for a slow start to the week, and I just might want to try his other books quite soon.

Conclusion: I’d give this a 3.5 out of 5.

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