Of Mice and Men

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of mice and men

Wow.  What a gut wrenching story.

I never read this book in high school, and since it’s a whopping 100 pages, you’d think I’d have read it sooner.  Now that I have, I recognize several pieces of it from various theater auditions I’ve seen – any scene could make a great dialog piece.

Steinbeck wrote this as a “playable novel, written in novel form but so scened and set that it can be played as it stands.”  This make for a very vivid, easily constructed “set” in your mind as you read it – though I kept filling the role of Lennie with the Abominable snow man in the Looney Tunes cartoons, which actually is the basis for the character.

snow bunny

and I will hug him and pet him and squeeze him and call him George.”

This is the main reason I love reading the classics, it gives me a richer view of the world and shines a different light on things I’ve known my whole life.  In fact, there is a whole list of american cartoon references to the characters in this story.

The story itself is simple, yet surprisingly complex.  I was disappointed to learn this book has been placed on the American Library Association‘s list of the Most Challenged Books of the 21st Century, as it’s such a moving, memorable piece of literature, and such a shame to not be read among high school students of the past.  There is era-appropriate racism, but the list of books we’d have to ban for that is endless.  

In another shocking article from Texas, the character of Lennie is being used as a barometer to test an individual’s “Mental retardation” before it’s decided if that person will be executed.  

Most Texas citizens,” the argument ran, “might agree that Steinbeck’s Lennie should, by virtue of his lack of reasoning ability and adaptive skills, be exempt” from execution. By implication anyone less impaired than Steinbeck’s fictional migrant ranch worker should have no constitutional protection.”

I don’t even know what to say about that, it’s so far out of the bounds of rationality.

Of Mice and Men speaks to the heart of what it means to be human.  Lennie’s character is so loveable, and so gentle, and the almost unbearable love George has for him is, in my opinion, the strongest theme in this book.   Of Mice and Men is, at its core, a love story. 

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