“Maybe ever’body in the whole damn world is scared of each other.”
— John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men
We’re all bound to hear about Mr. Steinbeck and his famous and critically acclaimed novels at least once in our lives. Of Mice and Men figures among his most popular works of fiction and there’s no denying that the praise it has received over time is very well deserved. This story follows the search for labour of both George Milton and Lennie Small. While George is a small, but smart individual who’s patience is always tested by his huge, loyal, but simple-minded friend Lennie, George’s continued support and friendship puts him in a tight spot far more often than he would have wished for. It’s upon arriving at a ranch in California’s Salinas Valley that their luck had changed and a job for both of them was offered. However, things are not as simple as it seems since Lennie’s inability to control his inhuman strength and to adapt and comprehend people and his surrounding is liable to wreak havoc. Of Mice and Men is a relatively short story that contains countless themes ready to assault every reader’s conscience and leave them bewildered and saddened by the end of the story.
Everything in Of Mice and Men is genuine and enthralling. The writing manages to convey such an authentic voice to every single character that is introduced and succeeds in devising perfect chemistry between all the characters. From our two partners in crime to the natural leader at the ranch, John Steinbeck does a marvelous job in giving each of them a voice, a purpose and a message to ponder on. Of course, the friendship between Lennie and George is a fantastic and beautiful example of how expertly John Steinbeck delivers his story and creates his characters. As they fight through the obstacles that life throws at them, their shared dream keeps them moving forward and helps them maintain their heads up with an optimistic perception of their future. You can’t help but wish that relationships between individuals would be as pure as the one between these two fellows. Another wonderful example is Crooks, the stable buck, who’s words of wisdom are not to be taken lightly. His loneliness emanates through his actions and his thoughts. I felt a lot of empathy for him and truly appreciated the chapter dedicated to this man and his vision of life.
The use of foreshadowing and repetition is also to be praised. I honestly didn’t expect these to be used so efficiently, but when it happened, I was astounded. The use of these techniques were so skillfully executed that a moment to pause and appreciate was very much required. It’s not the fact that words were repeated or cleverly foreshadowed, but rather the fact that the emotional weight that each word held at different parts of the story was unbelievably different. That’s what I found most magical about this book. Words could hold such a light and joyful tone, and still be conveyed, in a completely different moment, with such darkness and sadness. I believe that it was how dramatic and heavy those words became that made the ending so powerful. John Steinbeck does an unbelievable job in depicting human nature through such simple techniques and with so little words. That is beauty, my friend. Even the foreshadowing did wonders in conveying the complexity of human beings and how much regret can hold a man’s conscious by a string and haunt a person for life. Spoiler Sentence (highlight to see): « In particular, Candy and his dog’s dilemma could bring tears to anyone who saw all the subtleties of the decision that Candy was forced into and the repercussions of that scene on the ending, regarding George and Lennie. »
This is a brilliant classic. Even the pacing was insane. Hundred pages felt like ten, yet those ten pages were enough to blow my mind away. As much of an exaggeration that was, I was really mesmerized by the writing and ended up ravaging through every single page at a pretty high speed (very unusual coming from me). Was it predictable? Sure. Did it take anything away from the powerful and tear-inducing ending? Not at all. By the end of the book, you’ll be surprised by how brilliantly the whole story was unraveled. The clues, the analogies, the themes and the traps will suddenly flash through your mind and convince you that this book isn’t just another classic that you can pile up with the rest to be read in an uncertain future. It’s a novel that reflects on the different facets of kindness, on the strength of loyalty and on the power of friendships and dreams. Of Mice and Men is definitely a story worth visiting much sooner than you believe. This is my first, but definitely not my last stop of John Steinbeck’s work. If there’s one thing you should retain from my review is this:
This is a brilliant classic.