Book Review: Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

John Steinbeck on Friendship and loneliness.

“Maybe ever’body in the whole damn world is scared of each other.”

186521Read: 12th, February, 2017

Estimate reading time: 5 minutes, 35 seconds. Contains 1116 words.

My Rating: 4 Stars

Three months back I went to a bookstore and found two book kept side by side, at first I was very indecisive when it came to making a choice between this book and In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, I really like both the writers so I ended up buying both of them and reading both of them though I still have to read last few pages of In Cold Blood, I’ll make it happen, I know that and I’ll write about it soon.

So about this book, the book cover says: The compelling story of two outsiders striving to find their place in an unforgiving world. Drifters in search of work, George and his simple-minded friend Lennie have nothing in the world except each other and a dream–a dream that one day they will have some land of their own. Eventually they find work on a ranch in California’s Salinas Valley, but their hopes are doomed as Lennie, struggling against extreme cruelty, misunderstanding and feelings of jealousy, becomes a victim of his own strength.

Before I begin I must say that I love John Steinbeck’s books, I haven’t read them all but whatever I have read I always loved it. I really like the profound messages one can find while reading his books and how he can write stories about rookies and ordinary working class people and make them relatable to everyone reading them. Great Depression indeed provided him with a whole lot of subject to write about and it’s worth reading.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck which he wrote in the year 1937 is based on the theme of friendship and loneliness. It’s a story of two drifters in search of work during the time of Great Depression, it’s a story of their companionship and friendship and how people need each other.

“A guy needs somebody―to be near him. A guy goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody. Don’t make no difference who the guy is, long’s he’s with you. I tell ya, I tell ya a guy gets too lonely an’ he gets sick.”

George and Lennie have no one other than each other in the whole wide world, they don’t have a place to live. But they have a dream, one common dream that one day they will have some land of their own. Lennie asks George to tell him about their dream repeatedly throughout the book because Lennie is forgetful and he likes when George tell him what they both would do when they will have land of their own.

“Everybody wants a little bit of land, not much. Jus’ som’thin’ that was his. Som’thin’ he could live on and there couldn’t nobody throw him off of it.”

George is street smart and wise while Lennie is big, strong and dumb or I may say mentally handicapped(I don’t know how to put it subtly). Lennie likes to touch soft things but since he is strong that most of the times he kills them and creates trouble for both of them.

“Trouble with mice is you always kill ’em.”

George is a good friend he takes care of Lennie though he sometimes feels trapped with him because he thinks he can be so much more if he doesn’t have to take responsibility of Lennie. He constantly complains that if he did not have Lennie then he could have a girlfriend or go down for drinking and build a life for himself but then he takes care of Lennie as a parent and he genuinely want Lennie to stay with him.

“Guy don’t need no sense to be a nice fella. Seems to me sometimes it jus’ works the other way around. Take a real smart guy and he ain’t hardly ever a nice fella.”

When you read this book you can feel emotional appeal and can feel for every character. The undertone of this book is loneliness, every character is lonely, some are so lonely that they long for attention, they are afraid they will lose their partner, won’t let go because they are afraid they will be left alone, be the leader so that they get to have followers and try to stay put with people and what happens to people when they are isolated.

Few things were terrifying for me because I’m someone who tends to isolate.

“A guy sets alone out here at night, maybe readin’ books or thinkin’ or stuff like that. Sometimes he gets thinkin’, an’ he got nothing to tell him what’s so an’ what ain’t so. Maybe if he sees somethin’, he don’t know whether it’s right or not. He can’t turn to some other guy and ask him if he sees it too. He can’t tell. He got nothing to measure by. I seen things out here. I wasn’t drunk. I don’t know if I was asleep. If some guy was with me, he could tell me I was asleep, an’ then it would be all right. But I jus’ don’t know.”

Curley’s wife, although a bizarre woman but yes she longs for attention, she indeed is left alone and she does feel lonely. Candy won’t let go of his dog because he knows that he will be left alone even though his dog stinks and left with no life, Curley always looking for his wife afraid he would lose her to someone else, Slim being the leader so that he can listen to people and be around them.

In Chapter 3 Candy says, I oughtta shot that dog myself, George, I should not oughtta let no stranger my dog.

George from above statement did learn some lesson.

I really like the symbolism of the snake which Steinbeck used twice in the story, once when George and Lennie first came to the ranch and second time towards the end of the story.

“A water snake glided smoothly up the pool, twisting its periscope head from side to side; and it swam the length of the pool and came to the legs of a motionless heron that stood in the shadows. A silent head and beak lanced down and plucked it out by the head, and the beak swallowed the little snake while its tail waved frantically.”

The symbolism of snake bring the forces of evil and symbolizes something bad is to come and here in this story it totally foreshadows death. In the beginning of the book that very snake glides without harm.

This book is straight realism, it’s life and has some kind of sweetness but most of it is heart-wrenching and a bit depressing.

I think I’ll never forget about this book because the way it ended was heartbreaking and completely brutal. I still remember how I felt while reading this book and how the ending completely drained me.

Book Review: The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck

“You know how advice is – you only want it if it agrees with what you wanted to do anyways.”

4796My Rating: *5 Stars*

I started reading this book yesterday and finished it a few hours back. It’s raining in here, a lot, I mean a lot and it’s cold. Now that rain stopped, strong winds are blowing and I can’t sleep because when I closed the windows, the wind started making spooky noises and now that when I opened them, the sound is so relaxing, you know the sound of wind blowing through palm trees.

So, again I don’t feel like sleeping and I’m constantly thinking about the book and this book gave me this unsettling feeling that won’t let me sleep. You know the feeling you get after you read a thought-provoking novel, yes that.

This book is beautiful, and that is some great writing right there. Steinbeck is what I would like to call a true literary genius. I haven’t read his other books and this is the first one, but already I’m his admirer. I think this is a finely crafted book.

As I read this book, I came across many little but profound messages, throughout the book, and they were easy to decipher and relate with, and strong enough to stir thoughts into the reader’s mind. Steinbeck, as it turns out, is not only a literature writer but also a philosopher and you can easily identify that while reading the book. This novel came out in the 1960s and before that he already got some of his best literary work published like “The Grapes of Wrath” and “East of Eden”, I haven’t read them but now after reading this book I’m surely gonna read them. But I’m gonna say that this story is wonderfully told and well structured, but for some unknown reason it is quite often overlooked and I think people should read it. One of my friend on Goodreads said that this book is quite different from his other books.

Now if we come to the story, the synopsis says, Ethan Allen Hawley, the protagonist of Steinbeck’s last novel, works as a clerk in a grocery store that his family once owned. With Ethan no longer a member of Long Island’s aristocratic class, his wife is restless, and his teenage children are hungry for the tantalizing material comforts he cannot provide. Then one day, in a moment of moral crisis, Ethan decides to take a holiday from his own scrupulous standards.

You might have got some idea what this is about. This book, The Winter of Our Discontent, is based on the subject of morality, or more appropriately how morality plays its role in American society, it’s prevalence in 1960’s. It’s an exploration of morality in an individual, in a society. And I think, it still exists in today’s society.

I loved the character of Ethan and all the other characters were also easy to understand. From the beginning itself you can find Ethan as a content person, he did lost his family property(because of a bad business decision, not made by him) and didn’t get to enjoy all taste of money that he could. But in his heart, he was always a content person, a happy person. Always did good and did everything to make his family secure(that is enough to ask). Throughout the book he also talked about many intelligent books and you can see that he is a smart person and can do a lot more and deserve more and that he can be more than a grocery clerk.

But as it turns out when we live in a society many things go into our heads, we want all the luxury and money our neighbors are enjoying or society is enjoying, people can’t keep their heads high up for the simple reason, that they think they are not worthy enough because of the lack of wealth or a respected job.

His family’s discontentment became his discontentment. As a provider, he wanted to provide them everything. Society and friends told him that he could be much more than he is. People told him, if he wants to be successful he have to break some rules to turn it all up for himself, and that sometimes we have to lose our morals to get what we want.

All this discontentment made him do something for himself and his family, day by day little events changed him, he came up with plans(that you would be reading) and you’ll see how everything he planned for fitted altogether. The book has this gray shady setting and sometimes it’s unsettling.

And you can see all this in our society, that a job these days is not just a simple job, it is much more, there is a huge competition, people make other people fall just to go one step ahead and people want to make it big. And no one can disagree with it, it’s everywhere.

Okay, I really want you to read it because this is something worth reading. There are some really good underlying messages and I think you should read it because I can go on and on.

Happy Reading!

[Written on 21st August 2016 at 3:20 A.M.]