What We Are Reading Today: ‘Of Mice and Men’

“Of Mice and Men” is a novella written by the late John Steinbeck and published in 1937.

The book explores themes of friendship, dreams, loneliness, the human condition, and the inherent cruelty of society.

Set during the Great Depression in the US, the story revolves around two displaced ranch workers, George Milton and Lennie Small, who are seeking employment and a place to call their own.

They form a close friendship, and Milton serves as Small’s guardian, protecting him from the dangers and complexities of the world.

The duo finds work on a ranch in California’s Salinas Valley, where they meet other characters such as Candy, an aging ranch-employee with a missing hand, and Slim, a skilled and respected worker. They also encounter Curley, the boss’ aggressive and insecure son, and his flirtatious wife, who remains unnamed throughout the story.

Small’s mental disability creates tension and conflict throughout the narrative and leads to a tragic incident where ranch workers decide to seek revenge on him. That is when the story really takes off.

“Of Mice and Men” remains a poignant and widely studied work, highlighting the struggles faced by marginalized individuals during the Great Depression era and raising questions about the nature of compassion and the pursuit of happiness.

While Steinbeck’s formal education was not extensive, his experiences, self-study, and immersion in various environments played a significant role in shaping his perspective and informing his writing.

He wrote several other notable novels, including “East of Eden,” “Cannery Row,” “The Grapes of Wrath,” and nonfiction book “Travels with Charley: In Search of America.”

His observations of people, their struggles, and the landscapes they inhabited became integral to his storytelling and contributed to his reputation as one of America’s most influential writers.

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