Mrs Taylor’s new Year 11 class 2015-16

Once you have read Of Mice and Men please post a 200 -250 word review.

You may be interested in reading some literary criticism on the novel before you write your comment (you can cite this in your own review to avoid passing off other people’s comments as your own 🙂  try sparknotes/ bbc bitesize/ shmoop/ clifffnotes.

Your comment should be:

  • Full of opinion / passionate analysis – avoid making bland comments.
  • Don’t include a plot summary (you would if it was a real review but I’m more interested in what you think it is about and how you feel about it)
  • Keep it focused on what you thought it was about (e.g ‘this is a novel about the terrible consequences for those suffering from a learning disability at a time when…..’) and what your opinion is (e.g ‘whilst the world of the ranch is not one that I found easy to relate to, the fierce loyalty shown by George to Lennie was a trait that I could identify with and was probably for me the most inspiring aspect of the novel)
  • Be specific in your comments  (e.g The most moving moment for me is when ….because….)
  • Paragraph effectively / use vocabulary precisely and powerfully/ punctuate accurately.
  • You can use your first name or a pen name (but use your school email when you post so I know who has completed the work)

Good luck – I am looking forward to reading your responses.

Mrs Taylor

 

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39 Responses to Mrs Taylor’s new Year 11 class 2015-16

  1. India John says:

    Of Mice and Men Review
    India John

    I have to admit that while reading this novella, I was not moved like I perhaps ought to have been… it was only in planning this review, when I began to reflect on the various issues covered in the plot, that I began to be truly moved by the sheer depth of the storyline and the issues it discusses.

    The book addresses three main issues during the 1920’s Great Depression: disability, sexism, and racism. There are many classic books that can touch on this… The Secret Garden, the Great Gatsby, Pride and Prejudice, all have characters that are either opposed to these main issues or have strong beliefs about them, but none convey the same messages that Steinbeck puts across; especially in only 121 pages.

    Steinbeck’s narrative is straightforward, colloquial, unpretentious and earnest. You can understand the characters, their struggles, their relationships, without even realising, and I think that this simplicity is the key to the story’s success.

    The character who really stood out for me was George. Even though Lennie was a ‘gentle giant’ and harmless, and his character is one that is designed to create sympathy, George is the person who stood out for me. Within the first twenty minutes of reading I was ready to dislike George…I fell into a classis trap of not reading between the lines, and just thought he was a bit of a grumpy antagonist. But the development of his character just shows a deep love for Lennie, and the initial bitterness makes the friendship seem real, as everyone knows that no relationship is ‘smooth sailing’. And the near reality of this situation is what made me feel more connected with the story.

    So overall I am impressed by Steinbeck’s work, and although the ending did not make me tear up and feel bitterly depressed, I was moved by other, smaller parts of the novella. The shooting of Candy’s dog spurred the most emotion from me, and not just because it was a dog… I feel it represented love going out of someone’s life unnecessarily, and losing something incredibly close to you. Thus, I look forward to studying of mice and men this year, and perhaps now I have an excuse to go and see something else on the West End?

  2. Georgia davies says:

    In all honesty, the eagerness and anticipation I felt upon picking up this novella were not fulfilled, after I finished the final sentence and placed the book down. Don’t get me wrong, I have read and enjoyed many classic books in the past, such as Jane Eyre and Great Expectations, and yet ‘Of mice and men’ did not have the heart-breaking impact upon me as I had hoped it would.

    Despite reading the entire book in one sitting, I was not drawn into the storyline, nor the majority of characters who were introduced by Steinbeck- and therefore I found my mind wandering towards other, unrelated subjects.

    In my opinion, this may be a result of the lacking character development, as Steinbeck writes in a notably fast-paced manner, which leaves no room for detail in 120 pages. I also feel that by trying to cover numerous difficult topics such as racism, disability and poverty, Steinbeck attempts to make us sympathise with too many characters, which for me was simply not possible with the numerous underlying story-lines also involved.

    Despite this, the novella has given me a new insight into the subjects of death and companionship. Unlike many well-loved classics, ‘Of mice and men’ focuses less on the tragedy of dying, and more on the consequences and reasons surrounding it. It was only when reflecting upon the book that I understood George was not in fact being vengeful by shooting Lenny, but instead saving his one true friend from a more brutal death. Despite the fact that George killing his best friend would cause him eternal suffering, it also prevented Lenny from suffering with the knowledge that he had hurt someone else, and so I discovered a new-found respect for George.

    ‘Of mice and men’ refers to a poem by Robert Burns, “To a Mouse” from 1975, in which he writes “The best laid schemes of mice and men, go often awry, and leave us nothing but grief and pain, for promised joy!”. John Steinbeck incorporates this theme of unattainable dreams into the short story, and yet it didn’t seem to matter as I finally understood -their companionship in a bleak and poverty-stricken existence made that existence meaningful. And even though I will not be readily re-reading, I guess this little novella has had a small meaningful impact on my own existence.

    • Mrs Taylor says:

      I applaud your conviction and individual response. Fantastic. It is interesting that you didn’t like the allegorical style – different characters represent different forms of prejudice and that this somehow diluted the potency of the novella.

  3. Alana Grigg says:

    Of Mice and Men
    Alana Grigg

    ‘Of Mice and Men’ is perhaps the only novel that, once finished, caused me to sit down and reflect on the events that occurred throughout the story. Although the novel contains just over 120 pages, the sheer depth of the storyline gives the effect of a much longer book.

    Set in the 1930s during the great depression, ‘Of Mice and Men’ is unique in the fact that the issues presented of racism, sexism and prejudice against the disabled are not the sole focus of the story. In fact, the way in which Steinbeck subtly included them made me realise just how ‘normal’ the abuse experienced throughout the novel was – and this moved me greatly.

    What stood out most to me in this story was how every character’s personality was different yet I was able to remember and relate to each one of them. Never before have I been able to remember more than 5 characters in a story. But perhaps even more noticeable than the contrasting personalities expressed by the characters was the relationships formed between them. The small group of men on the ranch did not seem to me to get on from the outside, but as the story progressed I soon came to realise that they all shared the same dream – the American dream- and that was the cement of their friendship. This inspired me the most, especially the bond between George and Lennie, as their friendship stands out as a shining example of how people can live and love, even in a world full of alienation and prejudice.

    Overall, I feel deeply moved by Steinbeck’s work and, although I didn’t tear up once, I connected with the deep bond between Lennie and George, and the valiant decision made in the final chapter to save Lennie from his unfair fate.

  4. Molly sutton says:

    Of Mice and Men book review
    I found this book truly inspirational, the way George stopped his friend dying in an awful way, instead he cared enough about Lennie to let him die whilst he was happy, in a world of his own, imagining what his life could be like of their own land, tending to his rabbits. I think George shot Lennie out of love and compassion to spare Lennie the pain and terror of being killed by a mob, instead George let him go peacefully.
    This book really links to issues in modern day life with prejudice towards different races of people shown with crooks, the stable hand and disability shown mentally with Lennie and physically with crooks and also sexism through Curleys wife. This book also shows the theme of friendship, how George and Lennie stick together whereas most of the other ranch help come and go, with no one for company.
    It is very upsetting how Lennie can’t recognise his own strength and can’t overcome his desire to touch soft things, therefore keeps killing helpless animals including his puppy, who he kills accidentally with good intentions, he just can’t realise what he is doing wrong to try and stop due to his mental disability. Steinbeck portrays Lennie as a ‘gentle giant’ who is harmless but ends up being an unintentional murderer. At the start I didn’t like Georges character due to the way he treated Lennie but as the story went on you could see his deep compassion and love for Lennie and how strong their relationship was after all they had been through and that in the end George killed Lennie for these reasons.
    The characters in the book don’t understand or know that Lennie has a disability, they just think he is stupid, which just shows how uneducated they were and how much people have learnt in 80 years about mental disabilities which may have been because of the depression in the 1920’s in America.

    This book also shows how unrealistic the American dream is. Curleys wife thought without Curley she could be a movie star and candy says that all the people that have gone through the ranch had never managed to buy the land and live off their own land, this all being due to the tough times in the depression and being a fantasy that everyone want but only a few get.
    Molly Sutton

  5. Caitlin Martin says:

    Of Mice and Men Review
    Caitlin Martin

    I found the book Of Mice and Men a very moving and touching book that raised a lot of awareness to several issues. Furthermore, I found that the author John Steinback made the story very interesting by the individual relationships he created between the characters; some relationships I found quite surprising.
    Personally, I think that the one of the main issues raised in the book was Lennie’s mental disability; what interested me the most about the book was that the author never mentioned what Lennie suffered from but it was hinted throughout the book. Evident when he could not comprehend normal conversations or that he could only remember certain things or how he had a low attention span. I found the different responses to Lennie very interesting because the relationships that Lennie had were unusual. Most of the ranch workers just ignored Lennie or were scared of him due to his physique. What surprised me the most was that there were some who showed kindness towards Lennie as well as George being such a loyal friend to Lennie even though Lennie ruined everything. As the book was set in The Great Depression work was hard to find and you would normal stay on a ranch for a while and then leave to go onto a next one and you normally worked alone but George and Lennie proved this wrong for some reason George acted as if he was Lennie’s father. I found this a very touching part of the story due to what would have happened to Lennie if he was left on his own and how no matter what he trusted George. Although, I found the ending very saddening I understand why George pulled the trigger, he did it through an act of love knowing it was the best way for Lennie to go. The most heart breaking part for me was when Lennie was completely oblivious to his surroundings and did not notice George take the gun he thought his dream was finally coming true but he was wrong.

  6. Louise Lecointe says:

    English Book Review
    ‘Of Mice and Men’
    ‘Of Mice and Men’ is cleverly written novella. At first I didn’t really enjoy this story as I didn’t feel as though I related to any of the characters and therefore made no emotional connection to the story. However, as the story progressed – especially towards the end, I found that I viewed Lennie and Georges relationship as one to aspire towards and reading how it developed as they began working at the ranch, intrigued me. The story tackles a number of issues such as metal disability and even some current modern issues – sexism and prejudism. A time in the Great Depression when mental disability was not understood very well it would make you inferior to have one, thus making Lennie an easier target for the brutes at the ranch. I thought it was admirable how George had tried to make Lennie’s life as easy as possible by trying to turn Lennie away from any trouble especially from Curley and his provocative wife. This trait of loyalty is what I found most relatable as proved by George towards Lennie as it was the most significant virtue throughout the story which when it came down to it was the reason George killed Lennie . Lennie would never have an easy life and George knew that Curley would have it out for Lennie, so to stop the pain of someone who never loved Lennie killing him in a remorseless manner it was easier to watch him die happy, thinking about the rabbits on the farm. I feel like this was the greatest act of loyalty shown throughout which made it, for me, the most moving part of the book.
    My thoughts about this book are very positive and I recommend everyone to at try to read the book. In conclusion, I believe this book is the ideal book for everyone and will make you think of friendship and shows how true friends really go through hard times.

  7. Maddi Higginson ‘Of Mice And Men’ Review

    When reading ‘Of Mice And Men’, I initially passed it off as a piece of ‘boring summer homework’. I didn’t feel I was connecting with the book, and found it quite slow at the beginning. However, towards the end and upon reflecting on the book, I found that I began to connect with some of the characters and could understand and sympathise with them.

    The predominant theme, and what I would view the book to be about, is what it is like to live in a society full of discrimination; this being to do with disability, race or sex and whether you are facing it or trying to avoid it and hide yourself. I like the way that Steinbeck built in several characters (particularly Lennie, Crooks and Curley’s wife) to surround this theme, and I think he was successful in showing the emotions and actions that relate to discrimination of all kinds.

    I found the most moving part of the book to be the last few pages. It is here that I felt I finally understood the strong relationship Steinbeck created between George and Lennie, and where discrimination of disability is emphasised within the story. Whilst the others turn on Lennie, thinking he is a killer (which was not surprising as in that time nobody understood what a mental disability was or how to deal with one), George stood by his old friend until the very end. Their odd relationship suddenly made sense…I was completely taken aback by how much George actually cared. Despite seeming harsh and mean towards Lennie at times, he looked after, understood and helped him in a society where nobody else would. I felt like I discovered Lennies character in this moment as well, seeing him so oblivious, innocent and vulnerable. This certainly evoked a sadness and anger within me at how society treated people like him.

    This combination of characters and theme made for a very powerful and almost tear jerking ending, certainly for me the most memorable part of the book!

    • Mrs Taylor says:

      I am glad that your opinion changed – almost to tears! The day to day frustration felt by George is eclipsed by his overwhelming desire to protect Lennie. This comes into focus at the end.

  8. Gemma Draper says:

    To be perfectly honest when I began John Steinbeck’s ‘Of Mine and Men’ I didn’t find myself being drawn into the storyline or being able to connect with any of the character’s. I think this was due to Steinbeck’s quick pace writing technique and lack of character’s emotional developments. Entering the book I felt disappointed as my expectations for classic novels are set pretty high by previous reads.

    However as new characters began to be introduced I started to understand how each was representing a different form of prejudice which was evident in 1930’s America, this focus on historical abuse intrigued me. I could most certainly sympathise with each of these characters and the relationships they formed despite all their contrasting personalities.

    Sexism was a true problem in the 1930’s with women being objectified and seen as a much lower class to men. This was evident in Of Mice and Men through the characterisation of Curley’s wife and the way she is treated throughout the book by the male characters in the story.
    Disabilities were also discriminated against in the 1930’s, Lennie is described as a “gentle giant” but in reality his mental health puts himself and others at risk repeatedly throughout the story. His characteristics and need for support create a childlike and relatable character however the more moving aspect of Lennie is his relationship with George. Although seeming sour at the start their friendship develops, a complex friendship with support and trust levels which I have come to believe anyone should aspire to achieve.
    Steinbeck continues to touch on racism when introducing Crooks the sable hand. I found the scene with Crooks, Lennie and Candy the most moving moment in the entire story as it was the only time when Crooks was seen as a deeper character and spoken to like an equal. This really stood out to me as a pinnacle moment as I could really sympathise with Crooks character, he finally could see hope in the dream of working away from the ranch until realising he would never be able to leave due to his racial entrapment.
    The way Steinbeck included these forms of prejudice subtly within the story made me realise how this was normal injustice which people had to face everyday and this is what powerfully moved me most about the story.

    After a slow start I actually really enjoyed this book and the themes it carried of 1930’s prejudice, complex friendship and the American dream. Although I wasn’t moved to tears, I did feel a deep sympathetic connection with many of the conflicted characters. I would recommend this read to anyone who wants to explore embedded themes in a historical classical novella.

    • Mrs Taylor says:

      I really liked your comments about Crooks. He is a complex character who is at times hard to warm to, especially when he tries to frighten Lennie but then we see his vulnerability when threatened by Curley’s wife and also his secret desire for the ‘dream’ despite being cynical. Well done.

  9. Natasha Searle says:

    When I first started reading ‘Of Mice And Men’, I did not engage with the story like I perhaps ought to. It was not until I read the novel a second time that I truly enjoyed the story and was able to relate to the characters more. I think that, although the book is very good, it is only 121 pages meaning it is hard to connect with the characters fully and each issue raised is only briefly discussed before Steinbeck swiftly moves onto something else.
    Many characters in the book, such as Slim and Candy, interpret George to be a noble and kind individual as he cares for Lennie since Lennie cannot do it himself. I, however, believe that George only travels with Lennie because he does not wish to be alone like all of the other men on the ranch. Although none of the characters are likely to openly admit to their loneliness, many of them are envious of the friendship Lennie and George share and hope to one day find something similar themselves.
    In my opinion, the most interesting part of the book was how Steinbeck does not focus of the death aspects of the story, like many other authors. Even though Curley’s wife is killed, Curley does not appear to be distraught, he simply seems thankful to finally have a valid reason to harm Lennie. Similarly, when Candy’s dog is shot, Candy latches on to Lennie and George’s dream of owning their own ranch instead of dealing properly with his grief.

  10. Charlotte Elliott says:

    Of Mice and Men review
    To start, I thought that Of Mice and Men was good at displaying how people in the 1930s with mental disabilities were misunderstood by many people, however I thought it was especially good as Steinbeck mentioned Lennie’s disability or ‘stupidness’ subtly throughout the book and so the ending was much more powerful. This was because I felt sympathy for Lennie because I knew he couldn’t ‘just let go’ of Curly’s wife and didn’t mean to cause any harm to her, so when Curly went after him I couldn’t help but feel upset as he had no control over what was going on and was in fact just frightened.

    This was why I thought the ending was the best part of the book as, up until then I thought the book was quite dull and I didn’t find myself wanting to keep reading, however the ending was where it all tied in and I started to notice how pieces of information that were previously mentioned reoccurred in the end, especially when George was speaking to Lennie after finding him again because he comforted him by saying how they were still going to run a farm and he can still look after the rabbits. This was the most emotional part of the book because if you already knew the ending – like me then you could tell what was about to happen and George used things that comforted him before, in a time when Lennie needed it the most. I also liked how Lennie was represented on the outside as very strong and able to do hard work, yet on the inside he was very childlike and didn’t understand much this explained why he was so misunderstood because people in that time just saw his outside and figured he was just stupid because they had no knowledge of what was going on inside. I do think that the ending would have been very different if at the time people would have had more understanding of his mental disability and be able to treat him more fairly for something he could not control, instead of rushing to a very harmful conclusion.

    • Mrs Taylor says:

      You have cleverly noticed the contrast between Lennie’s bulk and huge frame suggesting his manliness and strength, and his vulnerable , childlike mentality. This misleading appearance is clever as it triggers the resentment felt by Curley who could be argued suffers from ‘small man syndrome’ … it is cruel that not only does Lennie have a learning disability which is not understood by society, he also has an appearance which unfortunately invites the negative attention of other men on the ranch. Poor Lennie…

  11. Maisa Hasan says:

    Of Mice and Men Review (the new version): I posted the wrong one (sorry!)

    “Of Mice and Men” is just one of the minority of books that are so perfect that it is hard to explain why. Whether Steinbeck discusses themes of friendship and hope between the characters or making a transition of grim topics of racism and taunting of mental disability; new insights would form in my head even if I was aware of such things. A book which discusses the negative sides of the “Dirty Thirties” and what hope there was left of it.

    Lennie would have been an obvious character choice to write about, but George was misunderstood by me. A wrong label was put on him as a “fake friend”. Naturally, it could not be blamed due to his irritable attitude and blunt, brutally honest personality; he was instantaneously hated by me. However, after pondering over him, I realised that he may have had the right to be frustrated. Seeing that Lennie is incapable of considering decisions due to his mental disability, George has that weight on his shoulders. The pressure from that is seen by some of his outbursts. But, I believe that George may forget that Lennie is different which sometimes causes a shock to know that his tall friend is quite naïve. A trait not present amongst grown men.

    Throughout this book, I felt that hope was the most prominent theme. George and Lennie’s future where they had the chance to be free with independence and right and Lennie can look after the rabbits. I feel that Steinbeck replays the theme of hope frequently to make the characters forget about the piteous present. A make-believe haven which could be cherished for a little while to give them the strength to carry on what’s left in their depressed worlds.

    That hope isn’t justified. Lennie accidentally killing Curly’s wife who was fed up with the pressures of not talking to any men, was saved by George. Not by helping him escape, but by a bullet to the back of the head. That was the escape for Lennie. An escape from such a harsh world, where he wouldn’t understand what was wrong from right; the accusation of unintentional murders would have pained him. George may have had to kill his friend, but at least Lennie wouldn’t have felt it.

    Overall, I feel that this book does present the hardships and dilemmas in life and how some decisions have to go to such an extent of killing someone for the best or prejudice is quite heart-breaking. But, I feel that decisions like that which Steinbeck discussed may have been reasoned as wrong; but when thought of with the circumstances, it is strange that that would have been the only right choice.

  12. Josie Spencer says:

    Overall, as a book I enjoyed reading Of Mice and Men as it was a short enough book with that theme that it didn’t lose the gripping sense and interest I had in it, but at the same time it had a lot of descriptive detail, meaning you felt like you had explored into their lives enough. I felt that even though it was short, Steinbeck was able to explore a variety of different themes through it that were appropriate for the time of racism, sexism and prejudice and through the characters loneliness and dreams. In my opinion I thought it was good to choose these relatable themes we all know about, meaning that you understood why the lived in such a way and for the parts that was more challenging to relate to, such as the way Lennie acted was more easily shown in this environment.
    The most emotionally moving part for me though was the ending. Maybe the best time to read it wasn’t on a ferry where you nearly start crying on a silent deck in front of 50 strangers but it just showed how well written it was. I think that as through the story there was a long build up to this final moment and I felt like I had bonded with the characters, and got to know who they were and that whatever Lennie did, George would always stuck by him, through this tale of perfect friendship. However, to my shock it seemed not and I almost felt betrayed by what happened as he did it with so little remorse which is what shocked me.
    The fault that I am able to find with this book is how we don’t see much or explore into the character of Crooks. Whilst writing this review, I was working out possible reasons for doing this. Maybe it was so from the little information given about him people would be able to structure their own theories about his previous life. Or maybe as he was coloured that no-one knew or cared to know that much about him so he was not fully explored. I would have however like to see more information about Crook and his life.
    Overall, due to the fact before reading this book I was dreading it, it pleasantly surprised me and I found it more enjoyable reading it then I anticipated.

  13. Emma Newton says:

    Of Mice and Men.
    Of Mice And Men is an incredible book which captures the struggles of the two loyal friends during the Great Depression and their hopes for their American dreams.
    At first I was very worried due to the short length of the novella and I was concerned that it might mean I would not feel as passionate about the characters. However, this was gladly not the case and after reading Steinbeck’s novella in one sitting I was amazed at how attached I became and fearful for George and Lennie in such a short amount of time.
    This is a powerful attribute in a book, especially as Of Mice And Men is based on such cruelty from that era, and therefore Steinbeck managed to portray such complicated and vast issues into one tiny novella with both emotion and harsh reality.
    To that end their fierce loyalty sparked emotion as I realised that George did everything to keep Lennie safe and at the end of the book everything he did was for Lennie’s ‘own good’. The first interaction between them really set the scene and it did not need thousands of pages of heartfelt dialog to understand their relationship when it was conveyed fully through the actions and protection George offered Lennie. When we try to look and see the world Lennie knows through his eyes, it becomes more of an ‘adult’ problem to include such attitudes and responses to people who are in any way different- it was emphasised to me how much prejudice and unacceptance was considered to be ‘normal’ in the 1930’s. These views are very far from today’s world and therefore I think I was able to emphathise with the characters and feel more sorrow for the way that they were treated and viewed upon as people.
    The American Dream seemed to unrealistic towards the end of the book when Lennie’s own strength would be at fault, and these huge dreams became so far from what little comfort they had. Even Curly’s wife confessed her aspirations in the past and her American Dream seemed nothing more than a fantasy. The contrast between the characters companionships and loneliness was reiterated and the American Dream to some appeared to be happy with someone with you. Each type of discrimination in the book was written about by Steinbeck in such a small novella and I think this leaves much room for discussion on the way that each of the characters were effected. Each person desperately clutching onto a dream, wether it be a better future for Candy who pitches in on George and Lennies dream to try to salvage some hope in a time where there was much unemployment and many people were left with nothing except a small amount of money from rare work and the hope in their hearts for the American Dream.

    Overall, I would quite happily read Of Mice and Men again and each time I do so, I would still be bearing in mind the situations that the characters would have been facing in that era. I was very happy to have avoided spoilers even though it was obvious what challenged these characters would have been facing in the 1930’s and I am looking forward to doing more work on Of Mice and Men this year. I can already sense power points on symoblism and analysing for year eleven?…..

  14. Alisha Harikrishnan says:

    When I began reading ‘Of Mice and Men’ I was immersed immediately. Steinbeck’s vivid descriptions allowed me to empathise with the characters very easily, he lingered on the depictions of small actions a character would carry out rather than their emotions, which I felt made the characters more understandable. Understanding ones actions I think is the doorway into reading their emotions; perhaps Steinbeck attempted to encourage readers to interpret each characters emotions independently so that a full understanding was achievable. Steinbeck’s characters themselves are simply drawn, so that when they reflect on the socio-economic issues within the story (The Great Depression in the 1930’s), their character builds.
    What touched me about this novella was how Steinbeck conveyed the many prejudices at the time, including racism, sexism and discrimination towards those with a disability. Steinbeck’s writing becomes very powerful as he illustrates societies prejudice in terms of individual tragedies, allowing the reader to empathise strongly with each situation at hand, as it lets others see how much a small aspect of their being hindered them daily at a very large cost. It is interesting as throughout the novel we never learn the name of Curley’s wife, she is merely his property and is not really given an individual identity.
    The novella contrasts between being realistic and then believing in the dream that one day they will be able to have their own land and be free from the stereotypical life upon the ranch. Lennie and George especially wanted to give meaning to their lives, or at least were brave and certain enough to let others know. Other ranch workers such as Crooks look down upon their idea of freedom however we see that it is something that he would like too, however his race obstructs him from doing so and this is finally where Crook’s cynical front fades and we witness his vulnerable and more solemn approach to the situation he cannot escape. Another key theme within the story is loneliness, it is clear to see that many of the other ranch workers envied what George and Lennie had. This aspect of isolation is clear to see when many of the works go to town on Saturday night to fulfil their craving for human contact as this can also somewhat give one’s life a meaning.
    Even though it is evident after finishing the novel that George and Lennie never achieve their dream, Steinbeck did leave the readers with a hopeful message. The novella showed when facing a society with discrimination, alienation and lack of companionship, two friends can still live and care for each other. This for me was probably the most inspiring aspect of the novel.

  15. Iona Scobie says:

    Of Mice and Men is a novel set in the great depression and follows George and Lennie on their search for work as farm hands in California. The pair do this work in order to eventually afford their dream of owning their own smallholding and to escape the cycle of poverty and hard work.
    The book is well-known classic however I found it hard to discover interest in the book. The book has a thinly-veiled metaphoric theme of the American dream (like many other novels published after and before). But I found that the book had potential to explore this theme better. Steinbeck could have used the childlike eyes of Lennie to make an exciting statement about the youthful hope that fuels the illusion of the American dream, but instead fails to find a strong direction and message for the novel. The story glides along the borders of interest and complete pointlessness with side themes of racism, ableism and sexism in the upfront story but the underlying concept of the “dream” is left to suffocate. What could have been a stirring political statement exploring false freedoms of American capitalism falls into a simplistic pseudo-intellectual story that a child could understand.
    I cannot deny Of Mice and Men’s value as a melodramatic story of two friends in the Great Depression, its characters are likeable and plot holds reasonable interest. However as a novel exposing realities of the American dream it isn’t worth the first few pages of Salinger’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

    • Iona Scobie says:

      *Hunter S. Thompson wrote Fear and Loathing not J.D. Salinger, I got the names mixed up. Sorry

    • Mrs Taylor says:

      Good to see such passionate critique; it is so important to engage personally with the texts and have an opinion. Why do you think Steinbeck chose third person viewpoint and not first from Lennie’s eyes?

  16. Leanne Rice says:

    Of mice and men book review:
    Before i opened this book, i was excited to read it, but unfortunately my expectation were not met, and i don’t think i was as moved as much as i should’ve been by the novella. However as i began to write this review, i found myself reflecting on the many issues brought forward in this book.
    Steinbeck manages to cover many important issues from the 1920s, such as racism (shown by crooks), sexism (shown by curleys wife and how she is treated), and the prejudice towards diabilities shown by Lennie. Lennie is shown as a ‘gentle giant’ and people see him as a child and not as a sufferer of mental illness. This shows how people in the 30s did not understand mental illness or learning diability, the only person who seemed to see past Lennies illness and saw him as an average person was George. George started the book as a grumpy man, but as the book went on you could tell how much he loved Lennie, and protected him like a father figure.
    Lennie and Georges friendship and loyalty is inspirational even in their final moments together, George still stuck by Lennie and tryed to help him in the best way he knew how. Their friendship helps show how two people can love and respect eachother even in a society where they are told not to.
    However untill i had finished the book i didn’t seem to connect with the characters, i think this was because Steinbeck managed to fit so many issues into the novella that there was not much room for character development.

  17. Evie Large says:

    When I initially began reading Of Mice and Men I found it very slow paced and found it fairly difficult to get into the storyline. However the more I read the more it interested me.
    Although it was only being a short book, John Steinbeck managed to include many issues such as racism, sexism and depression and the way he presented this issues made me as a reader feel very empathetic towards the characters. My favourite part of the book was watching and experiencing George and Lennie’s relationship especially in the last few pages. Although George killed his own friend , I fully understood what lead him to do this. Georges actions portrayed the extent of their relationship and how he was only trying to protect him from what could have been much worse. It was heart warming how George took Lennie’s mind to a happy place before shooting him in a quick and pain free way. Georges acts of kindness were admirable and brave as it couldn’t have been an easy thing for him to do but the strength of their relationship empowered him to make the courageous decision. If the mob had got hold of Lennie they would have murdered him in an inhumane way as a result of the pain Lennie caused them. George however, understood that Lennie never did anything to be mean, he just didn’t know his own strength. John Steinbeck’s words depicted how the disabled were discriminated against back then, this was understandable though as people weren’t aware of mental health. Lennie’s mental health issue meant that he put others at risk, particularly animals as he loved to feel soft things. This lack of understanding meant that people thought he hurt others out of his brutality whereas in fact his illness forced him into difficult situations which he didn’t know how to handle. This caused Lennie to be misunderstood and abominated. Through all of the troubles Lennie brought George’s way he stuck by him and supported him through each and every one of them, this showed true friendship and caused the readers to crave a relationship like theirs and encouraged them to be a devoted ally like George.

    Overall I thoroughly enjoyed reading Of Mice and Men. I believe this because of how Steinbeck managed to illustrate all of those important issues (racism,sexism, depression) in only 106 pages whilst portraying the unbreakable relationship between George and Lennie. Without a doubt I would recommend this book to other readers.

  18. Phoebe Woodhouse says:

    I initially found this book hard to get into as I already had preconceived ideas of how the story was going to pan out, and although the themes portrayed throughout the book were different from what I had originally expected I still did not enjoy this book as much as I believe I should have. I feel that the slow progression of the story seems to be trying to postpone the inevitable deaths of the characters that all occur towards the end of the novella. To me this makes the book seem as though the author was rushed to finish and only had a set amount of words he could use, as he appears to brush over the concepts of death yet seems to dwell on minor details that do not expand on the characters depiction of emotions at that certain time. This lack of detail makes the feelings of each individual hard to relate to as they are more of a generic characterisation than an actual person.
    I can however relate to the theme of loyalty that is shown throughout, however I do believe that the so-called devotion between Lennie and George is nothing more than a fabricated allegiance put on by George. I feel that by clinging onto the façade of friendship he is able to claim a false sense of comfort as he is not alone compared to the rest of the ranch members. Even though Lennie is more of a liability and a hindrance, by keeping him close George possesses what the men at the ranch cannot obtain, a person who would be able to remedy the sickening feeling of isolation.
    The main theme touched upon during this novella was that of disability, and what saddened me the most at the ending was not Lennie’s actual death but the way he was killed as it was the same method that was used to dispose of Candy’s dog. I feel that this shows how people with disabilities can sometimes be dehumanised due to misjudgement of the situation and also because of the prejudice that is often attached to disability. While I do think that George was traveling alongside Lennie because it sheltered him from leading a destitute lifestyle I do believe his final act was performed out of compassion and empathy for his friend as Lennie was unaware of the circumstances and died while envisioning their dream together.

  19. Mrs Taylor says:

    Am very mature response which shows an ability to really empathise with the characters, such as George who may rightfully have felt frustrated at times by Lennie’s behaviour. Excellent.

  20. Rochelle Coombes says:

    Of Mice And Men Book Review
    Rochelle Coombes

    When I initially started reading Of Mice And Men, I thought that the book was rather tedious and dull. However, when progressing, I realised that the story was the opposite of what I had perceived it to be – Steinbeck gradually unmasked the never-seen-before, gentle, tender side of George and the confused, forgetful personality of Lennie.
    The great thing about this poignant book is that Steinbeck powerfully addresses three of the biggest problems during the Great Depression – sexism, disability and racism, as well as portraying the characters’ emotions about these topics continuously throughout the many chapters.
    The most moving moment for me was the part when George shot unsuspecting Lennie. This moment was like a flashback for the reader to the moment when Carlson shot Candy’s dog – Lennie being the dog, oblivious to his surroundings and the fact that George was about to shoot him. I personally felt a strong sympathy for poor Lennie at this moment in time, seeing as he has a mental disability and that he was completely unaware that his best friend was about to betray him and his everlasting trust.
    I found the theme of trust and loyalty shown between Lennie and George easy to relate to, and even though the book was set in a ranch 100 years ago, I think that this is the type of story that could similarly occur in the 21st century. I would recommend this heart-wrenching book to people of all ages.

    • Mrs Taylor says:

      I would be interested to hear more about how you think it could still be relevant today. I wonder if the economic climate of 2015 creates a similar tension within communities as people fight for survival?

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