On a lazy summer afternoon, I picked up a book that my friends had often spoken about and which has been lying in my bookshelf for over a year. Little did I know that the book would touch me so deeply that never again would I see any of my friends in the same light as before.
Written by Nobel Prize winner John Steinbeck, who is well known for his Pulitzer prize winning novel, The Grapes of Wrath, Of Mice and Men has also been highly acclaimed by critics across the world since its publication in 1937 right till date. Steinbeck has written the novella in a prose narrative form. The novel takes its readers to depth of the narrated situation. Of mice and men is set in California during the Great Depression that took place in the early 20th century. It is based on the author’s own experiences as a homeless migrant during the economic crisis.
To put it simply, Of Mice and Men is a masterpiece about a kind of love that is highly under-rated but which makes a better impact than most of the romantic novels have ever accomplished. It is a kind of love that everyone can relate to. No matter what your age is you can relate yourself with the characters of the book.
The story revolves around two displaced ranch workers; George Milton and Lennie Small who run away from their previous employment because Lennie, a burly man with a slight mental disorder, is wrongly accused of rape because he touched a woman’s dress. George, his friend and self appointed care-taker ran away with him because he knew that Lennie would not have been able to survive without anyone. The two come to a ranch near Soledad southeast of Salinas, California to “work up a stake.” They live with the hope that one day they will be able attain their shared dream of settling down on their own piece of land. Lennie has a peculiar habit of wanting to stroke soft things and George kept him in discipline by telling him time and again that when they will achieve a farm of their own, he would not let Lennie ‘tend the rabbits’.
With time, the two gets to know the various people on the ranch starting with the owner, his son Curley, a muscular man who is incredibly protective about his young, flirtatious wife. They also meet Candy, an old ranch worker who lost one of his hands in an accident. Candy is very important in the story as he offers to contribute to the two friends’ dream by willing to be partner in their enterprise when the time came for them to buy a farm of their own. They also meet the “black”, crippled ranch hand- Crooks.. Because of his race he has been subjected to discrimination. He has to sleep, segregated from the other workers and is physiologically affected by it. Due to discrimination he has a prejudice against whites and does not interact with them. But Lennie, in his playful innocence, tries to befriend him and is first treated badly but with time Crooks starts to sympathise with him and slowly befriends him. Another important character in the play is Slim who is the leader of the drivers of the mule team. Slim, throughout the story, has been portrayed as a man who is respected by everyone and even manages to get respect out of the mean Curley.