Of Mice and Men - Book Report


Of Mice and Men (1937), written in the same genre as The Grapes of Wrath, that of a story about migrant farm workers and their lives as a reflection on society, was the book that thrust Steinbeck into the limelight as a national celebrity. He won many awards and honors including being picked as one of the Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Year. Steinbeck's style is what earned this praise, that of a natural flow of words which are simple in form but complex in their meaning. He painstakingly describes each setting as the reader is introduced to it, showing not just the general layout but an "insider's view" detailing the sensory perceptions evoked by the area ("A few miles south of Soledad, the Salinas River drops in close to the hillside bank and runs deep and green. The water is warm too, for it has slipped twinkling over the yellow sands in the sunlight before reaching the narrow pool.") Feelings evoked by Steinbeck's entrances are unable to be duplicated except by those who know the subject matter personally, a trait that he possesses having grown up in an agricultural valley in Salinas, California. His upbringing on the backdrop for many of his books enables Steinbeck to go beyond the paper and print of a book and create life in his characters. He expresses their joys and pains with such precision that the reader feels as if the characters were personal acquaintances and not just fictitious. The following is a brief synopsis of Of Mice and Men. George, a small man with restless eyes and strongly defined features, is leading his companion Lennie, a large, clumsy man with a shapeless face and wide sloping shoulders, down a path to a pool of water. There they drink and camp before heading to a ranch the next day to start work. George scolds Lennie for petting a dead mouse and overall treats him as a parent would a child. George tells Lennie that if anything bad happens while at the ranch to hide in the brush by the pond. The next morning, they reach the ranch and have an "interview" with the boss who becomes suspicious of Lennie for not answering any questions until George reassure him that although Lennie is not bright, he is an excellent worker. Curley, the boss's son and a small "handy" type of man, gives Lennie a hard time which an old swamper explains is on account of Curley disliking those who were bigger than he was. The swamper also said that Curley had just gotten married to a "tart." George tells Lennie to stay away from Curley. Curley's wife comes into the bunkhouse looking for Curley and Lennie thinks she is "purty." George tells Lennie to stay away from her so they can "roll up a stake" and buy their dream of their own land with crops of their own and rabbits. George promises to ask Slim, the jerkline skinner, for one of his dog's puppies for Lennie. Slim and George talk about Lennie while he pets his puppy in the barn. Carlson, another ranch hand, convinces Candy, the swamper, that his old, half-blind dog should be shot to keep it from suffering. Carlson shoots it in the back of the head with his Luger. Curley comes looking for his wife and hurries to the barn when he finds out Slim is there. George tells Lennie about their dream again. Candy hears it and offers to give his $350 to share in the dream. They plan on buying ten acres in a month. Candy thinks that he should have shot his dog himself. Lennie is smiling about their dream and his rabbits when Curley and Slim come back with Curley on the defensive ready to lash out. He picks a fight with Lennie for smiling and beats on him until George tells Lennie to let him have it. Lennie mauls Curley's hand. Everyone but Lennie, Candy, and Crooks, the Negro stable buck, goes to Susy's for prostitutes and whiskey. All three end up in Crooks' room with Crooks revealing his loneliness and asking to be included in the dream. Curley's wife stops by Crooks' room out of loneliness and finds she is unwanted there. The next day, while everyone was playing horseshoes, Lennie lay