of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck | Teen Ink

of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

March 23, 2016
By Elaineshao PLATINUM, Shanghai, Other
Elaineshao PLATINUM, Shanghai, Other
32 articles 2 photos 2 comments

    Of Mice and Men is one of John Steinbeck's most obvious classic novels and one of his most renowned. It tells the tale of a pair of forlorn migrant workers in the American west who attempt to achieve their dreams but are finally destroyed by cruel realities during the Great Depression.
    From the start, the protagonists appear to the readers beside a serene, cozy lake which happened to also produce satiric nuances of a darker society. George and Lennie are introduced as two starkly contrasting characters. Whereas George is a shrewd and stout little man with agility, his companion Lennie is a strong ox of a man who dragged his feet while he walked. Behind his physical prowess, moreover, Lennie also has the brain of a child and his memory is fleeting.
    The darkness begins to pervade with a description of Lennie’s inclination to pet soft things. He actually attributed these soft entities, namely rabbits, to symbolize a bright future of one day owning a farm with George. The dream of buying a small piece of fat land and enjoying the peacefulness of life by raising crops is evident throughout the piece. Again, Lennie forgot most of everything but he never did forget this dream. In fact, he longed to pet more soft rabbits on their own land and George even fed into this idea of freedom often. George reminded Lennie of these aspirations daily which seemed to be the only way to quell Lennie’s nervy ticks.
    However, considering the setting, the Great Depression was viewed as dark and hopeless by most. Society was divided into different class systems, both racially and socially. Therefore, two migrant workers dwelling on the outskirts and essentially the bottom of society felt the struggle more poignantly. They fought to resist this cruel reality. Their own reality was that they did not have a home, they did not have land and just like mice in nature, they scurried from place to place to survive. Their dream was ultimately shattered in the fatefulness of a moment.
    At their new work site, Lennie proved to be a very good farmer, using his strength to delve into required chores. But, this strength soon proved to solidify a doomed fate. It began with his unintentional killing of a rabbit and then a puppy. This is where the destruction began. In the past on Weed Farm, Lennie petted a woman’s dress without any means of harm but she screamed and it startled him. Because of this jostling, George and Lennie migrated to another place. George conceded that Lennie was a lot of trouble, often telling him so, due to his childish brain. Once they were run out of Weed, on their final job together as companions, the final tragedy begun with Lennie’s accidental killing of a farmer’s wife.
    It was then that George had no other option but to take mercy on Lennie and kill him in turn before others did. When the trigger was pulled, the flying bullets not only took Lennie away from George, but also broke George's heart. When I read this passage, I was overwhelmed with grief. It was not necessarily because of Lennie’s death but the mercy bestowed upon him and the death of their future together.
    In our modern culture, there are many people living like Lennie but there is more information available on how to care for them. Even though time and ages have passed since the publication of this novel, the darkness that pervaded it due to the unsettling nature of the killing, the desperateness of the Great Depression and the unfulfilled dreams of two ranch hands, it will resonate in all of our hearts for a long time to come.

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