What’s the significance of a mouse? It’s a small creature, and frankly, quite annoying. Of Mice and Men is written in just over fifty pages and proves that anything, no matter how small, can make an impact. Steinbeck tells the story of two ranch hands, George and Lennie, who travel to find work together despite being complete opposites. Lennie, a large man with an even larger heart who loves to pet soft things, has a minor mental disability, needing quick-witted George to help him. He would find anything soft, dead or alive, to pet, unaware that his huge physique and strength would result in accidentally crushing them. Together, they manage to get along at their new job, but Lennie’s love for petting soft things and killing them kept causing hiccups until their whole lives changed when the novel is ended in the most brilliantly tragic way. In just a few dozen pages, the short novella managed to be as meaningful as a triple digit novel, if not more.
The one thing that keeps me thinking about this novella is Lennie’s innocence. He pet mice until his hands crushed them, but kept petting them anyways. He didn’t mean to harm them, and couldn’t understand death he was causing. Could Lennie really be blamed for their deaths? He had caused them, even without meaning to. I had debated his “innocence” many times, and I still cannot decide whether he was guilty or not.
Steinbeck writes in a clear, concise way that makes it easy for the readers to relate to. The dialogue is interesting and brings another dimension to the story, as well as characterizes the ranch where George and Lennie work. The author often describes the nature in the setting, which sets the mood of the scene and adds symbolic detail that makes the story more meaningful. There were many strong messages sent through the novel, and I find that it makes the novella even more powerful with the few pages it was written on.
Anyone who loves literature would probably find this book enjoyable. It’s not a long novel, and holds a lot of emotion. The plotline is fairly straightforward, and unlike some other books, it’s not very vague or difficult to understand. However, younger readers might not want to read it, as there are a few curse words in the dialogue along with some minor adult themes and deaths of animals. Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men was truly a masterpiece, but be prepared when you read it that you will probably fall in love with the characters, and then maybe cry a little bit when it ends.