OF MICE AND MEN – John Steinbeck

This is a universal story in this setting about two farm workers. George is average but physically small, and Lennie is huge, strong and mentally disabled. The story is about caregiving, the trials, tribulations and inevitable failure to maintain full care and the relationship steady, and keep Lennie in line. George has undertake the obligation of care, concern and oversight. Lennie is needing, not understanding and incapable. The small man tries to keep his slow friend in check by feeding his dreams: Their own ranch and Lennie can care for the rabbits.

Human beings look out for one another. It is a common occurrence, and may become more so. There are stresses, strains, discord and desultory conversations. The ties of companionship, loyalty and friendship do not break. Frequently, after disagreement arises and goes and advice has been ignored, human beings go on as if nothing has happened.

Immediate situations where friendship and companionship arise today, include the Mice and Men situation, young and old, old and young, teacher/student, hand-capped/physically capable, mental disordered/a balanced caregiver, and in some instances husband/wife. The primary ingredients are the abilities of both persons which are not compatible but complimentary. Two persons make a whole, but as Steinbeck points out, success does not always come.

Of Mice and Men has been considered “narrow” because it is a short book about a limited theme. Some readers, publishers, producers and others dismiss it. They have not the imagination to see the whole story, the whole situation, the complete statement governing personal relations between two people. It is likely that those narrow-minded people and readers don’t understand the book because they have no friendships themselves, or they are poor caregivers. They can not recognize the elements in the farm worker situation or in any other situation.

I made the mistake of opening the Of Mice and Men edition to a page of Introduction, which was 25 of 128 pages. I saw a quote of Steinbeck’s about his dialogue: “For too long the language of books was different from the language of men. To the men I write about profanity is adornment and ornament and is never vulgar and I try to write it so.” I don’t know which books Steinbeck was reading, but many other authors of his time and before him have written dialogue as it was spoken. The dialogue in Of Mice and Men is written to the story, and it reflects the education, the background and the setting Lennie and George find themselves in. Some of the dialogue seems lengthy, but frequently those conversations in the caregiving scenarios are senseless and interminable.  

In the end Of Mice and Men reflects an important part of life.


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