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4.3 out of 5 stars
Of Mice and Men
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 20, 2013
My son needed this book for his English course. I had actually taught it myself. It was a pleasure to revisit the characters, the theme, the era. A classic story and at such an affordable price.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 23, 2005
The story starts with George and Lennie running away from their previous town of occupation, where Lennie, in his childlike manner, wants to touch a girl's red dress but doesn't let go, resulting in shouts of rape, mass chaos, and the pair of them getting chased out of town (you don't learn all this immediately, though.) They find work at a nearby ranch, which is where most of the story takes place.
One of the things that immediately stuck out to me about this book is Steinbeck's writing style. Heavily focused on dialogue, the overall terseness and efficient use of words is only interrupted occasionally when Steinbeck describes a new scene, where he goes into great detail. Otherwise, all you see on paper is exactly what you need to understand the story; this prevents it from dragging too much, and it allows the story to progress more quickly without spending forever on the same topic. This results in a natural flow of events that won't leave you reading the same thing re-stated 10 times; as a result, you'll want to read more because you know good things are always around the turn of the page. To almost put it in a blatantly simple manner, this reads like a very complex bedtime story.
Probably the thing that sticks out most to me is the incredibly well portrayed characters. Steinbeck takes a very Hemingway-like approach in both quantity and quality of characters; he keeps the book very condensed in terms of plots, sub-plots, complex characters, etc ...(it's barely 100 pages), which means you won't be scratching your head after every chapter going, "What on earth just happened?" It's a testament to his writing style that each character is so individually portrayed in a span of barely 100 pages, yet I didn't feel like anything was missing; I could visualize every one of the characters in real life. He does an excellent job of fleshing out the characters simply through what they say, not having to rely on superfluous dialogue or extraneous details to get their personalities across.
Finally, the ending of Of Mice and Men is very powerful. It illustrates a theme that must have been particularly prevalent in them minds of most people during the Great Depression: "When do we draw the line on tolerance and do what has to be done?" Although the entire book is impressive in its lucidity, the ending is particularly impressive because it brings extreme tragedy to the novel without a change in style; it's perfectly believable, yet not something you really want to believe. Part of it is due to the memorable characters (I assure you you won't forget Lennie after the ending of the book), part of it is just Steinbeck's genius. Pick up a copy of this classic book! Another novel I need to recommend -- completely unrelated to Steinbeck, but very much on my mind since I purchased a "used" copy off Amazon is "The Losers' Club: Complete Restored Edition" by Richard Perez, an exceptional, highly entertaining little novel I can't stop thinking about.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon December 4, 2014
John Steinbeck's of Mice and Men is one of my all time favourite books, for a number of reasons this book delivers a powerful punch that is sure to move anyone who reads it. The book was originally published in 1937 and has been adapted to film a number of times (and with some success) but it's the original novel that demands the fullest attention of readers of any genre.

Steinbeck's story is based around two travelling farm workers who have dreams and aspirations for a better life a simple dream to have their own place and a small piece of land. The two main characters feature George Milton an uneducated man but with some natural intelligence, and Lennie Small who is somewhat backward and simple but with a kind heart and enormous physical strength/

George is plays something or a guardian role for Lennie he looks out for him and tries to keep him out of trouble as much as possible. Lennie is often unaware of the consequences of his actions and cannot comprehend his strength, but has a kind heart and a love of rabbits and small soft animals.

The two soon start working on a farm and all goes well at the start but it's clear that the farm owners son (Curley) has an intense dislike of Lennie due to his larger stature and strength. Curley frequently mocks Lennie and tries to provoke him at every opportunity this ends in a physical confrontation in which Lennie crushes the hand of Curley demonstrating in a brutal way how strong he is. Despite this set back things settle down as Curley realises he was the instigator and lets thing lie.

On the ranch an older man in the shape of Candy, a worker/handyman who lost his hand in an accident offers to join the two men and contribute his savings to go with them and get a place of their own. Candy feels his days of being useful on the farm are numbers and shares the dreams of George and Lennie, but their plans are soon tested when Curly's Wife (who is clearly bored and flirts with the ranch workers) unwittingly tests the strength of Lennie with dire consequences.

It's a straight forward and simple story that harks back to the era of the great depression but seizes on the hopes and dreams of people in the time of a better life with some security. Steinbeck's ending is crushing in it's intensity as the dream becomes a shattered reality rather than take an obvious way out he's chosen to leave a very lasting impression on readers. The authors ability to absorb the reader in both the characters and environment is unsurpassed he grabs you in and refuses to let go, the title of "classic" is often banded around a bit too much, in this case the story is magnificent; the execution near flawless and without question a modern masterpiece. Regardless of your preference in books taste or genre this is not to be missed
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on March 22, 2007
Stienbeck did a very good job in recreating the 1930's. He especially did a good job with the migrant workers. When Lennie and George had only two cans of beans, they carried bindles and work tickets, and how they were traveling to get to a new job really gave the reader a good example of how poor the migrant workers in this time really were, and how their lives were. Steinbeck had very good characters in the book, and they were characters that the readers could relate to. When Candy let Carlson kill his dog because it was old, he was giving up something he loved very much. That is something that readers can easily relate too. This is a very good book for younger adults to read because it addresses many different social issues. Discrimination is one of the very big issues in this book, and it is addressed extremely well by the author. The only other novel I enjoyed this much was The Bark of the Dogwood which was just absolutely fascinating and I couldn't stop turning the pages.
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on September 6, 2005
I've only read two book recently that I would recommend to another Amazon buyer. The first was THE BARK OF THE DOGWOOD (intense, funny, disturbing, and uplifting) and the second was OF MICE AND MEN. Granted, I HAD to read OF MICE AND MEN in school, but don't let that deter you from taking my suggestion. This is a fine book, with ideas and scenes that will stick with you. Steinbeck does a really good job recreating the 1930's migrant worker conditions. He has all the hardships of the workers life down, and the racism isn't going overboard. It seems as if the whole book is really true. Steinbeck's characters are completely believable. Its so easy to like his characters because they seem like real-life people. Young adults should read this book because its an easy to read, short classic novel that has a good story plot. It teaches that no matter how much you plan something or how well something is, it can always easily be messed up. It also hits on social issues such as racism, gambling, murder, and animal rights.
Also recommended: THE CHILDREN'S CORNER by Jackson McCrae-great short stories that actually make sense and have a plot-when's the last time you ran into that?
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on July 29, 2005
The story starts with George and Lennie running away from their previous town of occupation, where Lennie, in his childlike manner, wants to touch a girl's red dress but doesn't let go, resulting in shouts of rape, mass chaos, and the pair of them getting chased out of town (you don't learn all this immediately, though.) They find work at a nearby ranch, which is where most of the story takes place.
One of the things that immediately stuck out to me about this book is Steinbeck's writing style. Heavily focused on dialogue, the overall terseness and efficient use of words is only interrupted occasionally when Steinbeck describes a new scene, where he goes into great detail. Otherwise, all you see on paper is exactly what you need to understand the story; this prevents it from dragging too much, and it allows the story to progress more quickly without spending forever on the same topic. This results in a natural flow of events that won't leave you reading the same thing re-stated 10 times; as a result, you'll want to read more because you know good things are always around the turn of the page. To almost put it in a blatantly simple manner, this reads like a very complex bedtime story.
Probably the thing that sticks out most to me is the incredibly well portrayed characters. Steinbeck takes a very Hemingway-like approach in both quantity and quality of characters; he keeps the book very condensed in terms of plots, sub-plots, complex characters, etc ...(it's barely 100 pages), which means you won't be scratching your head after every chapter going, "What on earth just happened?" It's a testament to his writing style that each character is so individually portrayed in a span of barely 100 pages, yet I didn't feel like anything was missing; I could visualize every one of the characters in real life. He does an excellent job of fleshing out the characters simply through what they say, not having to rely on superfluous dialogue or extraneous details to get their personalities across.
Finally, the ending of Of Mice and Men is very powerful. It illustrates a theme that must have been particularly prevalent in them minds of most people during the Great Depression: "When do we draw the line on tolerance and do what has to be done?" Although the entire book is impressive in its lucidity, the ending is particularly impressive because it brings extreme tragedy to the novel without a change in style; it's perfectly believable, yet not something you really want to believe. Part of it is due to the memorable characters (I assure you you won't forget Lennie after the ending of the book), part of it is just Steinbeck's genius. Pick up a copy of this classic book! Another novel I need to recommend -- completely unrelated to Steinbeck, but very much on my mind since I purchased a "used" copy off Amazon is "The Losers' Club: Complete Restored Edition" by Richard Perez, an exceptional, highly entertaining little novel I can't stop thinking about.
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on July 1, 2005
The story starts with George and Lennie running away from their previous town of occupation, where Lennie, in his childlike manner, wants to touch a girl's red dress but doesn't let go, resulting in shouts of rape, mass chaos, and the pair of them getting chased out of town (you don't learn all this immediately, though.) They find work at a nearby ranch, which is where most of the story takes place.
One of the things that immediately stuck out to me about this book is Steinbeck's writing style. Heavily focused on dialogue, the overall terseness and efficient use of words is only interrupted occasionally when Steinbeck describes a new scene, where he goes into great detail. Otherwise, all you see on paper is exactly what you need to understand the story; this prevents it from dragging too much, and it allows the story to progress more quickly without spending forever on the same topic. This results in a natural flow of events that won't leave you reading the same thing re-stated 10 times; as a result, you'll want to read more because you know good things are always around the turn of the page. To almost put it in a blatantly simple manner, this reads like a very complex bedtime story.
Probably the thing that sticks out most to me is the incredibly well portrayed characters. Steinbeck takes a very Hemingway-like approach in both quantity and quality of characters; he keeps the book very condensed in terms of plots, sub-plots, complex characters, etc ...(it's barely 100 pages), which means you won't be scratching your head after every chapter going, "What on earth just happened?" It's a testament to his writing style that each character is so individually portrayed in a span of barely 100 pages, yet I didn't feel like anything was missing; I could visualize every one of the characters in real life. He does an excellent job of fleshing out the characters simply through what they say, not having to rely on superfluous dialogue or extraneous details to get their personalities across.
Finally, the ending of Of Mice and Men is very powerful. It illustrates a theme that must have been particularly prevalent in them minds of most people during the Great Depression: "When do we draw the line on tolerance and do what has to be done?" Although the entire book is impressive in its lucidity, the ending is particularly impressive because it brings extreme tragedy to the novel without a change in style; it's perfectly believable, yet not something you really want to believe. Part of it is due to the memorable characters (I assure you you won't forget Lennie after the ending of the book), part of it is just Steinbeck's genius. Pick up a copy of this classic book! Another novel I need to recommend -- completely unrelated to Steinbeck, but very much on my mind since I purchased a "used" copy off Amazon is "The Losers' Club: Complete Restored Edition" by Richard Perez, an exceptional, highly entertaining little novel I can't stop thinking about.
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on May 27, 2005
The story starts with George and Lennie running away from their previous town of occupation, where Lennie, in his childlike manner, wants to touch a girl's red dress but doesn't let go, resulting in shouts of rape, mass chaos, and the pair of them getting chased out of town (you don't learn all this immediately, though.) They find work at a nearby ranch, which is where most of the story takes place.
One of the things that immediately stuck out to me about this book is Steinbeck's writing style. Heavily focused on dialogue, the overall terseness and efficient use of words is only interrupted occasionally when Steinbeck describes a new scene, where he goes into great detail. Otherwise, all you see on paper is exactly what you need to understand the story; this prevents it from dragging too much, and it allows the story to progress more quickly without spending forever on the same topic. This results in a natural flow of events that won't leave you reading the same thing re-stated 10 times; as a result, you'll want to read more because you know good things are always around the turn of the page. To almost put it in a blatantly simple manner, this reads like a very complex bedtime story.
Probably the thing that sticks out most to me is the incredibly well portrayed characters. Steinbeck takes a very Hemingway-like approach in both quantity and quality of characters; he keeps the book very condensed in terms of plots, sub-plots, complex characters, etc ...(it's barely 100 pages), which means you won't be scratching your head after every chapter going, "What on earth just happened?" It's a testament to his writing style that each character is so individually portrayed in a span of barely 100 pages, yet I didn't feel like anything was missing; I could visualize every one of the characters in real life. He does an excellent job of fleshing out the characters simply through what they say, not having to rely on superfluous dialogue or extraneous details to get their personalities across.
Finally, the ending of Of Mice and Men is very powerful. It illustrates a theme that must have been particularly prevalent in them minds of most people during the Great Depression: "When do we draw the line on tolerance and do what has to be done?" Although the entire book is impressive in its lucidity, the ending is particularly impressive because it brings extreme tragedy to the novel without a change in style; it's perfectly believable, yet not something you really want to believe. Part of it is due to the memorable characters (I assure you you won't forget Lennie after the ending of the book), part of it is just Steinbeck's genius. Pick up a copy of this classic book! Another novel I need to recommend -- completely unrelated to Steinbeck, but very much on my mind since I purchased a "used" copy off Amazon is "The Losers' Club: Complete Restored Edition" by Richard Perez, an exceptional, highly entertaining little novel I can't stop thinking about.
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on November 17, 2004
I've only read two book recently that I would recommend to another Amazon buyer. The first was Jackson McCrae's THE BARK OF THE DOGWOOD (intense, funny, disturbing, and uplifting) and the second was OF MICE AND MEN. Granted, I HAD to read OF MICE AND MEN in school, but don't let that deter you from taking my suggestion. This is a fine book, with ideas and scenes that will stick with you. Steinbeck does a really good job recreating the 1930's migrant worker conditions. He has all the hardships of the workers life down, and the racism isn't going overboard. It seems as if the whole book is really true. Steinbeck's characters are completely believable. Its so easy to like his characters because they seem like real-life people. Young adults should read this book because its an easy to read, short classic novel that has a good story plot. It teaches that no matter how much you plan something or how well something is, it can always easily be messed up. It also hits on social issues such as racism, gambling, murder, and animal rights.
Also recommended: THE CHILDREN'S CORNER by Jackson McCrae-great short stories that actually make sense and have a plot-when's the last time you ran into that?
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on July 14, 2004
Deceptively short and simply written, John Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men" actually offers any reader quite a lot to think about. The relationship between the two main characters highlights a number of issues relating to the themes of mental illness and friendship. The story takes place in Depression-era California. Lennie is a very large, strong man, but not too bright. He doesn't have a mean bone in his body, but because he fails to comprehend his own strength, he frequently does harm to others without meaning to. He loves to pet soft things, like mice and rabbits and puppies, and then becomes distraught when they die, not understanding that he has been too rough with them. Lennie's companion is the brains of the pair, a small man by the name of George. He fills the role of both caretaker and friend to Lennie, and does his best to keep him out of trouble, though he doesn't always succeed.
The two men are traveling laborers, moving around as the availability of work dictates. To keep Lennie motivated and obedient, George pacifies him with stories of a future bright with luxury and free from worry. They'll buy a small farm, he tells his avid companion, and live off the fat of the land. They'll have their own crops and their own livestock, and go to shows whenever they feel like it. And if Lennie stays out of trouble, he can even have some rabbits of his own to take care of. Captivated by this vision, Lennie does his honest best to obey George and avoid doing anything that might jeopardize their dream. But his best just isn't good enough, and just when their plans look like they might actually be falling into place, Lennie makes the biggest bungle of all, leaving George with an extremely hard decision to make.
One of the social problems Steinbeck seems to be commenting on here is the place of the mentally ill or impaired in society. What was their place at this point in time? Did they even have a place? This story makes it clear that there really weren't many avenues open to the mentally ill at the time. They could be institutionalized, but such places had little merit during the 1930s, when mental illness was not yet really understood. Patients were treated little, if at all, better than criminals. The other option would be for such people to try to get along in the outside world of "normal" people, as Lennie does. When Lennie's Aunt Clara dies, he is left with no family and so falls in with George, who becomes his new guardian. But the outside world is no more understanding of Lennie's handicaps than the doctors of the time, and provides countless pitfalls of its own.
The other major theme of the story is friendship. What is true friendship? To what extent does one have responsibility to a friend, and what does this responsibility entail? This is something George must struggle with every day. He feels obligated to care for Lennie and help keep him out of trouble, though he clearly realizes that his own life would be far simpler if he were on his own. In the end, when Lennie commits the ultimate, irredeemable blunder, George must sort through this inner conflict to decide what is best for both of them. Should he continue to protect his companion, or should he save his own skin? And if he chooses to put Lennie's best interests first, what course of action would be the most just? The conclusion he arrives at is both intricately complex and, in another light, quite obviously simple at the same time.
Aside from these two overriding themes, Steinbeck also gives us glimpses into other issues of the time, among them racism and labor conditions. On the farm where the bulk of the story takes place, one of the characters is a black stable hand. Nicknamed "Crooks" because of his crooked back, this man is estranged from the rest of the workers (all white). The only one who fails to comprehend why Crooks should be treated any differently than anyone else is Lennie, whose simple mind doesn't grasp the idea of racism. We also see what life was like for Depression-era vagrants, moving from place to place in search of work. The living conditions were not ideal (though those in this story are far from the worst imaginable), the food provided often lacked proper nourishment, and employers could treat their hired help in just about any way they pleased. After all, the laborers were lucky to find any paying work at all. Even if they didn't like the conditions, where else could they go?
I'd definitely recommend this book to any reader. Though times have changed somewhat, the issues Steinbeck comments on are still very relevant today. The ideas presented in "Of Mice and Men" are many and deep, and much time can (and should) be spent contemplating them, but the book remains very accessible. It is a very short story, and can easily be read in one day. The style of writing is simple and direct, while retaining detail and a startling depth of feeling. However, it is by no means a feel-good story, so don't read this one at a time when you're already down in the dumps. While the ending has a very nice sense of resolution, and one is left feeling that George made the best decision he could under the circumstances (or, at least, this is the feeling I was left with), it is still rather depressing.
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