Friday, 4 February 2011

Of Mice and Men Review

Hey folks - this weekend I'm really planning on doing two reviews - first, this one is a book review and on Sunday I'll do a recent film review that I saw.

Recently, in my school and as part of my GCSE English group - my English class have been reading a class text that is one of the most famous books of all time and even one of the best acclaimed. It was written by Californian  Nobel-Prize winner John Steinbeck, and I think it's a great story and it's Of Mice and Men.

Of Mice and Men is a brilliant book in terms of character development and texture. Every single character here has personality, and the way Steinbeck writes the book is superbly well-written. What I really like in the book is how he really writes his sentences - his vocabulary is brilliant and it's not like as we hear much of these words today. He writes his sentences and dialogue accents brilliantly, and instead of a sentence like The sun was shining through the window of the barn. - he would like it in a much more structure and detailed way.

It's a very interesting story because of when it was written at the time - the book is set during the Great Depression in Salinas, California (where Steinbeck was born), and there are two American migrant workers named George Milton who is a small person who has a very tall and very strong friend coincidentally named Lennie Small. They always go around job-to-job and travelling a lot. George Small is really Lennie's keeper and gives him orders. Why would such a small guy take orders from a really big guy? Well, to answer that: Lennie may be a very strong guy "strong as a bull", but he is child-minded. He has the mind of a child, because he doesn't worry about what he did that was wrong, he worries about the consequences. George and Lennie have had hope that they would have a bit of farmland, and live a happy life - and Lennie would be able to tend rabbits.

Drawing of George and Lennie I found. No, there is no illustrations inside the book.

One of Lennie's likes in the book is that he really likes soft things, they're so smooth and he likes to stroke them. He used to be given pet mice by his Aunt Clara (who isn't seen in the book), and often when he was stroking too hard on soft animals, he killed them because of his strength - although he never meant to kill them.

George and Lennie have plans to work at a ranch in Soledad, California - and work there with a people for a while. They come across a few people at the bunk house, one of the characters they see is an old man named Candy who had a very old dog that suffered from arthritis and it was nearly dead, it would barely walk and had no teeth. Candy had the dog since he was a pup, and he is a pretty lonely man at the ranch. Curley, who is the son of the boss of the ranch is another worker who is a pretty rude and nasty man. What makes him mean is that he threatens some of the workers' of going near or talking to his wife whom they recently got married. Curley's wife was a major part of the story, as she was a flirt at the ranch - she was a very lonely woman, and really the only woman on the ranch and she has nobody to have a conversation. She is a pretty depressed woman who tries to find someone to talk to. Slim is another worker at the ranch who appears to be good friends with George, and there are a few other ranch workers such as Carlson (who ended up shooting Candy's dog because of his age and stench) and Whit (who described Curley's wife as a "loo-loo" which means attractive.

There is another worker there named Crooks who is black, and he also lives a lonely life at the ranch; he has to live in a separate bunk house because of he is in a different race. In the book, quite frequently Crooks is often called "n****r" which is of course a very, very racist word towards black people these days. But don't forget this book was written in the 1930's and when black people had very little civil rights back then. But, when I first saw these words it was a shock to me, and even when it was SAID while written. I don't like that word and I that's why I'm censoring it.

The book is really about friendship, loneliness and the hard times that some migrant workers had to face during the Great Depression and the truth. Curley's wife is so lonely since she has to other people to talk to as she is the only woman in the ranch - and only recently married Curley and she doesn't like him at all. Lennie, for example is a pretty lonely person because he doesn't talk to anyone at the ranch by  George's orders. Candy, of course is lonely as he has no living relatives left and the fact that his long-time pet dog was shot by Carlson, and Candy was offered to have a new puppy. Crooks, obviously is very lonely, because he has a different skin-colour than the other ranchers, and no-one would come into his ranch for a visit, and nobody talks to him.

There is some great friendship in the book, and George and Lennie seem to have a good friendship as they have both been travelling for a long time, and George always stands up for Lennie anywhere he goes, and whenever Lennie has done something wrong, George always defends him and tries to help him everywhere he goes. George and Lennie have a good friendship with Candy who wants to live in the farmland with them, and  they want him to come. Lennie has a fine friendship with Crooks, and Crooks doesn't really feel lonely when he finally had someone to talk to.

Lennie's strength is also an important part of the story, because his strength becomes part of the plot in two different parts. When Curley starts a fight with Lennie, Curley was actually a professional boxer in the past, and at first Curley punches and pounds Lennie a few times, and as he was encouraged by George to fight back at him by orders, and Lennie holds onto Curley's hands and then it suddenly gets worse - his veins start coming out of his hands - until a few people try to get Lennie's hands off Curley's hand - and it leaves it busted and injured. Lennie also uses the strength again when Curley's wife allows Lennie to feel her soft hair, and when he strokes her hair too hard, and when Lennie stops her from screaming, and not meaningfully twists her neck and lies in the haystack. Lennie was in deep trouble, and some of the ranchers went hunting down trying to kill him. George had to do what was the right thing - kill Lennie without noticing. "A man had to do what he had to do."

It is a very moving story - that caught me very interested and there are some very exciting climaxes there, like when Lennie kills Curley's wife and she is struggling is really nail-biting - and friendship between Lennie/Candy and Crooks is interesting - and also the fight between Curley and Lennie is pretty gruesome. Now it's time for the ratings.

Understanding ability - 8.5 out of 10
Character personality - 10 out of 10
Vocabulary and texture - 9 out of 10
Synopsis (plot) - 9.5 out of 10

So, I should say that I will average this rating of the book at roughly 9 out of 10. And to those of you who haven't read the book - I strongly recommend you read it - it is really worth it, and it is really inspiring and it has influenced me a bit in terms of character personality. 


Eric Noble said...

Of Mice and Men is one of my favorite books of all time, ever since I first read it when I was about 13 years old. I will have to go back and reread it, as well as read the rest of John Steinbeck's oeuvre. I think filmmakers, or writers of any sort, could learn from Steinbeck in terms of characterization. Great review Steven. Two thumbs up to you.

Steven Hartley said...

I agree I think filmmakers these days could be inspired by Steinbeck's characterizations too.

"Two thumbs up" - gee, you reminded me of Siskel&Ebert ;-).

Thanks for the compliments, Eric. I do think that I written a good review myself, I think I could take a career as a journalist/critic.

Eric Noble said...

I think it would be a good career for you. What do you want to do for a career?

Steven Hartley said...

I'm not really - although I would like to be a journalist for newspapers or magazines. I would also like to an animator as well (but traditional animation), none of this heavy CGI stuff. Although, I practice a bit of animation tests with tracing paper - even though I've not been trained.

Anonymous said...

thank you for the pic!!!!!!
really helped

Molly Bansemer said...

When I read Of Mice and Men i instantly got hooked, i found myself reading it over and over! It was absolutly amazing. My favorite part was when Lennie killed the women and the puppy (sad) then George is forced to decide wether or not to make a very hard decision, which was to kill Lennie. And as he did i cried. It was scary to watch the movie because there was some grousome scenes but still OUTSTANDING to read and watch in film. If i had a chance to rate this book out of ten, it would excede the limit.