Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Steinbeck revisited

I love reading and re-reading the classics and some years ago had a Steinbeck "fling" and read a whole lot of his novels....East Of Eden, The Pearl, Cannery Row and the Grapes of Wrath. But for some reason I had never read Of Mice and Men until recently.

John Steinbeck’s novella, Of Mice and Men, was written in 1937 and tells the story of two down-on-their-luck drifters traveling around, looking for work in California's Salinas Valley during the Depression. This work was written before the Grapes of Wrath and has some similar themes.

The story starts with the two mates, George and Lennie, back on the road after hurridly leaving their previous job. It seems Lennie did some “bad things” and as we hear parts of their story we realise that the child-like Lennie has a mental disability and is a large, lumbering man who does not know his own strength. George is Lennie’s best mate and his protector who is trying the keep him out of trouble. They arrive at a ranch looking for work and hoping for a better life with dreams of making enough money to buy their own place and raise chickens and rabbits. Lennie loves rabbits. When the mean and aggressive Curly, the boss’s son, appears on the scene you know things are not going to end well and that George will have his work cut out trying to keep Lennie safe from harm. Of Mice and Men has a Greek tragedy air of inevitability about it and it moves relentlessly to its tragic conclusion.

One major criticism I have of the book is the character of Curly's wife, who is the archetypical fallen woman and temptress, Eve. You know when you meet her that she will play an important role in Lennie and George's downfall.

Steinbeck’s novels are published here by Penguin Australia


HanniBean said...

I had to read this book for GCSE English a few years ago and enjoyed it greatly (until we'd read it several times to look at themes etc). I may have to read some of Steinbeck's other novels- it had never crossed my mind to until reading your post.

JayGee said...

enjoyed Cannery Row too