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Of Mice and Men

John Steinbeck’s novel, ‘Of Mice and Men’ is a uniquely written novel that goes against the usual writing style common with many authors. The 1938 book is described by some as a play-novelette, due to its unconventional writing style. Asked why he decided to use that particular writing style, John Steinbeck explained that he wanted to experiment with a novel that could be played from the lines or a play that could be read to the audience. Well, if you ask me, the experiment was a success.

This article summarizes and discusses some of the themes covered in the book. A copy of the ‘Of Mice and Men’ PDF is also available online for people interested in getting a copy of the book.

Plot Summary

‘Of mice and men’ PDF starts with two men, George Milton and Lennie Small, traveling to a ranch in search of work. The two are close friends and have a common dream of one day owning a piece of land and finally settling down in a place they can call theirs. Lenny is portrayed as a mentally deranged man, and it is up to George to take care of his friend to live a normal life. Lennie, on the other hand, is a strong man with a huge body, but his mental incapacitation makes him almost rely solely on his friend George.

The two friends arrive at the ranch the following day, where they meet some new friends such as Candy, who owns a loyal dog, Crooks, a stable black hand, and Slim, the ranch’s mule skinner. They also meet Curley, the boss’s son, and his pretty wife. Lenny takes an instant liking for Curley’s wife, which causes some tension between him and Curley. At one time, the two even start a fight, which results in the strong Lenny shattering Curley’s hand.

Farm Life

At the ranch, the farmworkers often spend time together when not working, which gives us an idea of how life was during the Great Depression times, the period in which the book is set. Lenny loves to listen to George talk about their future dream of buying a farm, and he often asks him to retell the story. Candy happens to hear the two talking about their plan, and he asks to join them, offering his life savings of $350 to get a chance to contribute to the plan provided they all live together at the farm.

However, things take a completely different turn that completely offsets the workers’ dream. Lenny has a habit of petting soft things, but he ends up almost always killing whatever he touches. This is partly due to the mental condition that makes him unaware of his strength or how to manage it. One day Curley’s wife allows Lenny to pet her hair, but in the course of the interaction, Lenny accidentally jerks his hand and breaks her neck, killing her. Consequently, Lenny has to escape from the ranch to avoid a lynching.’

Mercy Killing

As Curley and the workers the ranch gathers in search of Lenny, George steals the boss’s luger and heads to a secret spot where he had once told Lenny to go to if he encountered any problems at the ranch. Here, George finds his friend Lenny who is very scared after the mistake he made. In what appears to be a case of mercy killing, George shoots Lenny at the back of his neck, providing Lenny with an easier death than the one that awaits him from the angry mob.

Themes Covered in ‘Of Men and Mice PDF’

Dreams

Dreams are a common theme in John Steinbeck’s ‘Of men and Mice.’ At the start of the novel, we see the two friends, George and Lenny, planning to one day own a piece of land where they can settle in the future. The other characters in ‘Of mice and men’ also have their dreams and aspirations. For example, Crooks also dreams of having his homestead, where he can assert his responsibility. Even Curley’s wife dreams of being an actress and achieve fame, as well as an end to her loneliness.

Loneliness

Loneliness, as a theme, is also quite evident in the ‘Of mice and men’ novel. Candy gets very lonely when his dog dies as he loses a close companion. Curley’s wife, though married, is also very lonely as she doesn’t find much happiness in her marriage. This explains why she likes to spend time with the farmworkers. Lenny also sees his friendship with George as a cure to loneliness, and he often remarks that the two have each other and do not suffer as much loneliness as the rest of the farm workers. Lastly, Steinbeck cleverly uses symbolism to portray the theme of loneliness by setting the story near the town of Soledad, which is Spanish for Solitude.

Powerlessness

The ‘Of Men and Mice’ PDF paints a picture of the characters being relatively powerless, owing to intellectual, economic, and social circumstances. Lenny has physical strength, but his mental incapacitation results in powerlessness as he has to always rely on George. George, Candy, and Crooks also have dreams of owning land and being financially independent. Still, the Great Depression experienced in the world at the time makes it near impossible for the characters to actualize their dreams and ambitions.

Oppression and Abuse

As for human interaction, John Steinbeck’s novel ‘Of Men and Mice’ illustrates the theme of oppression and abuse, as well as the evil of the vice. Curley is constantly scolding the works in an attempt to assert authority at the farm. Curley’s wife is also very manipulative, though not physically. She often uses her charm and beauty to gain attention from the farmworkers, and she often flirts with the workers.

Fate

Fate is also a powerful theme in the novel ‘Of Mice and Men.’ All through the novel, we have seen the characters having various dreams and ambitions of leading a better life in the future. However, fate takes an unexpected turn that completely shatters many of the workers’ dreams. When Lenny accidentally murders Curley’s wife, George and Candy’s dream of co-owning land dies as the two will definite lose the job at the farm. Initially, George hoped to own land and take care of his friend, Lenny. However, the same Lenny ends up being the largest barrier to the dream.

Conclusion

John Steinbeck’s novel, ‘Of Mice and Men’ is a rather interesting portrayal of life during the Great Depression period in the USA. Through Steinbeck’s unconventional writing style, the reader gets a peek into how life was during the trying period of the Great Depression, especially for farmworkers. The major themes covered in the ‘Of Mice and Men’ show us the many experiences that human beings encounter in life.

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