Title: Of Mice and Men
Author: John Steinbeck
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publication Date: 1937 (mine was a reprint from 1993)
Why I Read It
I teach an American Lit class on the 1920s & 1930s. This is one of our options and I chose to read this over The Grapes of Wrath because of time constraints. Love both novels.
Short Synopsis (no spoilers)
A tale of brotherhood, dreams, and hope, Of Mice and Men, is a bittersweet tale of two men, traveling together, in the midst of the Great Depression. George and Lennie travel together finding work as ranch hands and trying to avoid trouble. Unfortunately, trouble always seems to find them, and this time there seems to be no escaping the trouble.
What I Liked
Unfortunately, as a high schooler, I did not appreciate Steinbeck’s writing as I should have. Re-reading this novel with a new class of students reminded me of how strong Steinbeck’s writing is and how a novel of a mere 107 pages can carry the pack and punch of a much longer novel.
Not normally one who likes long-winded, goes-on-forever descriptive details, I enjoyed and saw the purpose to the details and descriptions Steinbeck chose to include in this writing. The scenery surrounding the characters played an important role and keeps the reader focused on the emotional impact this story holds.
Here are some valuable lessons/ideas I look forward to using in my classroom:
- 1920s & 30s Lit class
- If you can fit it into a US History course, this is a great, short read.
- Using this novel as an introduction to shorter writings and writing succinct, powerful descriptions (Steinbeck does not waste a word!)
What My Students Thought
My students enjoyed the book, overall. It was a quick read and led to many insightful discussions. Here are some of their thoughts:
The importance of friendship and sacrificing for others made a big impact on me.
It was an easy read and I loved the bond between George and Lennie. I wish more friendships could be as heartfelt as theirs, even though George had to make such a hard decision at the end.
Most of the students liked Lennie as a character and were sad with the end, although one was more disappointed by the death of the puppies and Candy’s dog. lol
What I Didn’t Like
The ending. Does anyone really like the ending of this story? I understand it. I kind of agree with George’s choice, but I can’t say I like it. I am not one who has to read a happy ending. I get that life can suck and not everything goes as planned. In fact, I know the novel had to end this way. So, I guess I don’t, not like it. Do you know what I mean…lol 😉
- Anyone who loves Steinbeck
- Anyone who plans to go to college–it is one of the classics and is usually required in high school
- Anyone who likes reading about friendships/tough decisions/buddy stories