John Steinbeck published several novellas, among them “Of Mice and Men” (not an affiliate link). Initially, I wanted to read “Grapes of Wrath,” but its length gave me pause. After finding “Of Mice and Men” on my library app, Libby, both as audio and ebook, I decided to read it. Actually, I listened to it.
George and Lennie represent the main characters, two drifters who work the fields in California, trying to save enough money to buy their own little plot of land. Mentally disabled and physically strong Lennie keeps smart, but uneducated George company as best he can. George protects Lennie from others and from himself, or at least he tries to.
The boss, his son, the son’s wife, a Black man, and other hired farm hands all play their part in the development of the story and its denouement.
Loneliness is one of the themes of the book. Several characters find creative ways to deal with loneliness. One has a dog, another needs conversation even though it looks bad, yet another pets soft things etc.
Another theme is aspirations. All the characters aspire to a different station in life and these goals drive what happens in the book. You will enjoy this powerful story about human endeavor and the futility of our desires.
Last but not least, powerlessness is a major theme in the book. Each one of the characters desires something and feels powerless in the attempt to get what they want.
People have felt threatened by this book in many ways. Vulgar language, violent deaths, euthanasia, racism – all these appear in the book and so it got censored for years. However, to this day, this book is required reading in many English-speaking country for its literary value, which I totally agree with.
If you decide to read it, I have one piece of advice: do not read the plot from some website. Let Steibeck develop the story before your eyes. The beauty of literary art will touch you.