Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

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Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
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Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck is a classic novel that tells the story of George Milton and Lennie Small two outsiders striving to find their place in an unforgiving world. The two displaced migrant ranch workers moved from place to place in California in search of new opportunities. Lennie is big and strong but mentally weak, while George is smart in thinking. The novel was published in 1937 based on the author’s experiences working alongside migrant workers during the Great Depression in the 1930s.

Overview

Two migrant workers, George and Lennie, have been let off a bus, miles away from the California farm where they are due to start work. George is a small, dark man with “sharp, strong features.” Lennie, his companion, is his opposite, a giant of a man with a “shapeless” face. Overcome with thirst, the two stop in a clearing by a pool and decide to camp for the night. As the two converse, it becomes clear that Lennie has a mild mental disability, and is deeply devoted to George and dependent upon him for protection and guidance. George finds that Lennie, who loves petting soft things but often accidentally kills them, has been carrying and stroking a dead mouse. George angrily throws it away, fearing that Lennie might catch a disease from the dead animal. George complains loudly that his life would be easier without having to care for Lennie, but the reader senses that their friendship and devotion is mutual. He and Lennie share a dream of buying their own piece of land, farming it, and, much to Lennie’s delight, keeping rabbits. George ends the night by treating Lennie to the story he often tells him about what life will be like in such an idyllic place.

The next day, the men report to the nearby ranch. George, fearing how the boss will react to Lennie, insists that he’ll do all the talking. He lies, explaining that they travel together because they are cousins and that a horse kicked Lennie in the head when he was a child. They are hired. They meet Candy, an old “swamper,” or handyman, with a missing hand and an ancient dog, and Curley, the boss’s mean-spirited son. Curley is newly married, possessive of his flirtatious wife, and full of jealous suspicion. Once George and Lennie are alone in the bunkhouse, Curley’s wife appears and flirts with them. Lennie thinks she is “purity,” but George, sensing the trouble that could come from tangling with this woman and her husband, warns Lennie to stay away from her. Soon, the ranch-hands return from the fields for lunch, and George and Lennie meet Slim, the skilled mule driver who wields great authority on the ranch. Slim comments on the rarity of friendship like that between George and Lennie. Carlson, another ranch-hand, suggests that since Slim’s dog has just given birth, they should offer a puppy to Candy and shoot Candy’s old, good-for-nothing dog.

The next day, George confides in Slim that he and Lennie are not cousins, but have been friends since childhood. He tells how Lennie has often gotten them into trouble. For instance, they were forced to flee their last job because Lennie tried to touch a woman’s dress and was accused of rape. Slim agrees to give Lennie one of his puppies, and Carlson continues to badger Candy to kill his old dog. When Slim agrees with Carlson, saying that death would be a welcome relief to the suffering animal, Candy gives in. Before leading the dog outside, Carlson promises to do the job painlessly.

Slim goes to the barn to do some work, and Curley, who is maniacally searching for his wife, heads to the barn to accost Slim. Candy overhears George and Lennie discussing their plans to buy land, and offers his life’s savings if they let him live there too. The three make a pact to let no one else know of their plan. Slim returns to the bunkhouse, berating Curley for his suspicions. Curley, searching for an easy target for his anger, finds Lennie, and picks a fight with him. Lennie crushes Curley’s hand in the altercation. Slim warns Curley that if he tries to get George and Lennie fired, he will be the laughingstock of the farm.

The next night, most of the men go to the local brothel. Lennie is left with Crooks, the lonely, black stable-hand, and Candy. Curley’s wife flirts with them, refusing to leave until the other men come home. She notices the cuts on Lennie’s face and suspects that he, and not a piece of machinery as Curley claimed, is responsible for hurting her husband. This thought amuses her. The next day, Lennie accidentally kills his puppy in the barn. Curley’s wife enters and consoles him. She admits that life with Curley is a disappointment, and wishes that she had followed her dream of becoming a movie star. Lennie tells her that he loves petting soft things, and she offers to let him feel her hair. When he grabs too tightly, she cries out. In his attempt to silence her, he accidentally breaks her neck.

Lennie flees back to a pool of the Salinas River that George had designated as a meeting place should either of them get into trouble. As the men back at the ranch discover what has happened and gather together a lynch party, George joins Lennie. Much to Lennie’s surprise, George is not mad at him for doing “a bad thing.” George begins to tell Lennie the story of the farm they will have together. As he describes the rabbits that Lennie will tend, the sound of the approaching lynch party grows louder. George shoots his friend in the back of the head.

When the other men arrive, George lets them believe that Lennie had the gun, and George wrestled it away from him and shot him. Only Slim understands what has really happened, that George has killed his friend out of mercy. Slim consolingly leads him away, and the other men, completely puzzled, watch them leave.

Ambition

Of Mice and Men is a story about the nature of human ambitions, dreams, and the negative forces that work against people’s dreams. People give meaning to their future and their life by having ambitions and dreams.  Without such set goals, life becomes an endless stream of days that have no meaning or connection. But ambitions must go with perseverance even in the face of major adversities if the dreams must be achieved. Everyone wants to be successful, but most people forget that in their quest to become successful, they have to overcome many obstacles through perseverance.

The theme of ambition in Of Mice and Men teaches readers to set their targets but should not have a mindset of achieving them right away. Short-term goals are already an indication of failure. Failure itself can lead to a lack of self-confidence and frustration, and once those two things set in, one may not be able to push through. Despite cultural beliefs, success in life is not a one-way path. Instead, it is a road full of muddles of different obstacles, challenges, and heights. So nothing ought to discourage you when you face adversities in your quest to deliver your ambition. You might fall or get lost along the way, but you should keep going with a burning desire, and eventually, you would reach your target.

Lennie and George had the ambition to own a farm, and they had to face several obstacles in other to achieve their dreams. Having a farm meant security, independence, being relevant in society, and being their boss. They knew the responsibility that comes with owning a farm, and they had to work hard enough to achieve it. Candy also had a dream of owning a farm where he can assert a responsibility on Carlson for killing his dog. However, Candy’s ambition was a negative one.

Loneliness

No one is an Island, and this explains why people crave relationships with others to give life meaning, and. Loneliness is a major theme throughout this novel, and it is depicted in the life of the Ranch Hands.  The novel perfectly explains the destructive nature of loneliness through the Ranch Hands. They go into town at night to ease their loneliness with women and alcohol. Another character that depicts loneliness in Of Mice and Men is Lennie. He had to go into Crook’s room to find someone with whom to talk, and later Curley’s wife also followed Lennie to Crooks’s room to seek company. The theme of loneliness can impact so much on the life of everyone. Parents and guardians are sometimes too busy in the world today that most often they abandon their children.  Abandonment and loneliness have a lot of negative effects on a child’s physical and mental development. There are a lot of distractions and activities in recent times when you compare it with some decades ago. The internet has brought about a lot of information to consume, a lot of things to do and we are also coupled with work, school, or other forms of activities. All these, unfortunately lead to children’s abandonment.

The novel teaches that people can go nuts if they have no one to talk to, and sometimes it can lead people into trouble. Humans’ emotional needs must be met in other to live happily or thrive in their educational or professional life.

Medical doctors have reported that loneliness can cause a lot of health-related issues like cardiovascular diseases, strokes, increased heart rate, and lots more. Comprehending the enormity of neglect in people is very difficult when they are in a state of abandonment. Humans could suffer from anger, grief, anger, anxiety, improper mental, and lack of proper physical development. They could go into substance abuse, and they won’t do well in education. Fortunately, the theme of loneliness in Of Mice and Men has a lot of useful lessons for readers.

Alienation

The theme of alienation from nature is one of the driving forces of discontent in Of Mice and Men. George and Lennie’s dream of securing a farm caused them to be alienated from society. When they got the farm, they were always working from planting to harvesting. They were busy continuously tilling the earth, hauling the crops, and taking care of the animals. All these activities were the issues that made them lose connection with society. People became jealous of them, thus forcing them to have a reason to stay away from others. Alienation is a concept that that describes the dehumanizing, isolation, and disenchanting effects of society.

In today’s society, alienation comes with some symptoms, which include refusing to obey rules, feeling unsafe, and separating from everyone. Some have the feeling of helplessness, not able to communicate with others, and lots more. When someone feels unloved, it can lead to alienation, which in turn can lead to depression and some extreme cases, suicide.

In the case of Lennie and George, they were able to overcome the adverse effects of alienation because of their frequent farm activities; they opted to keep themselves busy. They spoke of their dream of gardening and planting, and they were eager to perform the tasks necessary to stay away from society. In today’s society, alienation can be caused as a result of home-related issues, job-related issues, social causes, educational causes, health-related causes, and lots more. It is very important to show love and compassion to those suffering estrangement in other to help them.

Powerlessness

The theme of Powerlessness in Of Mice and Men has great lessons on mental capacity. There were some characters that people always underlooked at as a result of their low mental capacity. In society, if you are not up to speed, mentally, people would overtake you in business endeavors, education, politics, and other works of life. Powerlessness in the novel takes many forms, such as financial, societal, and intellectual.

One of the characters that suffered from powerlessness is Lennie. Though he was physically strong and seemed like someone of power, he was mentally disabled. He perceived the world the way a child would do because of his lack of exposure and education. This made him be powerless against his urges and against the forces that obstruct him from achieving his goals. Powerlessness greatly affected Lennie’s habit and made him rely on others, such as George, to protect him. He knew what it meant to be responsible, but he could not avoid irresponsible acts. George, on his part, was also powerless, so it seems like a case of the blind leading the blind.

Helplessness can also be economic. George and Lennie were financially handicapped, so they had to struggle for years to raise little money in other to set up their farm.

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