Way back in high school, I read Of Mice and Men for the first time. I thought it was horribly sad but I enjoyed the book. Yesterday during all my driving around and cleaning, I listened to the audio version and other than the incredibly annoying harmonica playing at the beginning and end (yes, while the reading was happening), I enjoyed it all over again, but with a few more years of wisdom.
Steinbeck shows why he is a master storyteller with this book. The choices he makes in the characters and their behavior make this book work.
If Curly's wife had been kind and sweet instead of kind of trashy, the book would't have worked. If George had been completely understanding and never losing patience with Lenny, the book wouldn't have worked.
If you are unfamiliar with the story, it was published in 1937 and highlights the plight of the working poor. George and Lennie have found a job on a farm. George takes care of Lennie who is very large and very strong but has the mind of a child. Some are unkind to Lennie and torment him because of his differences, but because he is so strong, he can be dangerous. Alysen, this story is very sad, so you may not want to read it.
This story shows the struggle of the poor, the mentally or physically handicapped, and of black Americans. At this point in our history, these people were deemed less than and could be thrown away much as someone would put an old dog out their misery.
Steinbeck writing is flawless and puts the reader or listener right into the story.
Here is the blurb from Barnes and Noble:
"A controversial tale of friendship and tragedy during the Great Depression
They are an unlikely pair: George is "small and quick and dark of face"; Lennie, a man of tremendous size, has the mind of a young child. Yet they have formed a "family," clinging together in the face of loneliness and alienation.
Laborers in California's dusty vegetable fields, they hustle work when they can, living a hand-to-mouth existence. For George and Lennie have a plan: to own an acre of land and a shack they can call their own. When they land jobs on a ranch in the Salinas Valley, the fulfillment of their dream seems to be within their grasp. But even George cannot guard Lennie from the provocations of a flirtatious woman, nor predict the consequences of Lennie's unswerving obedience to the things George taught him."
Read a classic today to help you understand the journey of another.