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Of Mice and Men - Reflection

OF MICE AND MEN (1937) is a simplistic and straight forward novella written by John Steinbeck, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, THE GRAPES OF WRATH (1939), TORTILLA FLAT (1935), EAST OF EDEN (1952), CANNERY ROW (1945), and a number of other popular novels. His worth as a writer comes from his compassion for society's stepping stool, the economically deprived, as well as his simple prose style that manages to convey human emotion and heavy symbolism despite its brevity. His novels were usually written with vivid descriptions of wildlife and nature, a primitive country vernacular spoken among America's Third estate, and a deep sympathy for his characters inherent in every word he ever wrote.

OF MICE AND MEN was the work that would be Steinbeck's biggest commercial success until the publication of THE GRAPES OF WRATH three years later. To this day, it is his most well-known and beloved work. The story concerns a lovable oaf named Lenny Small, and his short friend, George Milton. George serves as a gauge for Lenny's temper because if the imbecilic giant were to ever become angry, he would be out of control. George also makes sure that Lenny stays out of harm's way, a job he wishes upon someone else than himself many times within the novella's 107 pages. Because of Lenny's intense curiosity of the world around him, his fetish for petting "soft things," and his immense strength, it is apparent from the very beginning that this story will end in tragedy. Another clue can be spotted in the origin of the story's title. It is derived from a Robert Burns poem that states, "The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry." So saying that the plot is linear and obvious is simply an exercise in futility. Of course, the story's plot never once takes unexpected leaps and bounds from the Burns stanza that it derives its title from. This is to be expected and, if one wishes to enjoy the work, accepted.

Characters fade in and out of sight in the novella, including an ill-tempered runt named Curley, a senile old chap who goes by the name of Candy, and Slim, a smooth-talking farmhand. Another character is the alienated Negro named Crooks who is forced to sleep far away from the other men. In his character, we see the essential isolation from society present in the relationship between George...

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