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Of Mice and Men
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Short Story/Novella Collection > Of Mice and Men - July 2019 - SPOILERS

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message 1: by Bob, Short Story Classics (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bob | 4850 comments Mod
Our Short Story Read for March is Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, published in 1937, 103 pages.


Kelly B (kellybey) | 266 comments I won't be re-reading this (I never re-read books), but I read it about a year ago so hopefully I remember enough to still participate in the discussion.

I loved it when I read it. I thought it was more accessible than the other books by Steinbeck I've read.


Philina | 1562 comments I think it's bloody brilliant. Masterfully crafted!
The ending is all there, it's all foreshadowed.
It still shocked me mightily.


Amanda (tnbooklover) | 19 comments I'm pretty sure I read this in high school but I don't remember one thing about it. I'll be reading it this weekend and am looking forward to the discussion.


Matt (mmullerm) | 775 comments I will be joining in this group read soon - I have it on hold at the library right now.


Pink | 6556 comments I read it a couple of years ago and wasn't as impressed as I'd hoped to be. Perhaps my expectations were just too high, or I didn't connect with the story. There was lots to like, but it fell short for a reason I can't quite put my finger on.


Philina | 1562 comments Pink wrote: "I read it a couple of years ago and wasn't as impressed as I'd hoped to be. Perhaps my expectations were just too high, or I didn't connect with the story. There was lots to like, but it fell short..."

I gave it 5 stars, because in hindsight or re-reading it is brilliant.
For a first read I felt that the whole story just served the purpose to foreshadow the end. Until the end and the enlightening moment I didn't find it very interesting.
I finished it today and went straight back to the beginning, read it again and fully appreciated everything. Then I gave my 5 star rating. The first read would have gotton around a 3.5.


Pink | 6556 comments Phil, I can definitely see why you'd give it a higher rating with a re-read. I think I need to try some more Steinbeck.


siriusedward (elenaraphael) | 2011 comments I will be joining this too...


Teanka | 124 comments Phil wrote: "I think it's bloody brilliant. Masterfully crafted!
The ending is all there, it's all foreshadowed.
It still shocked me mightily."


I finished it yesterday, and I agree with you wholeheartedly! I was familiar with the story from movies and theatre, but never read it before. I didn't expect that it was this good, nothing superfluous in the whole story, everything fits together brilliantly, so much foreshadowing of things to come. It's also brutal, but just because life was like that back then.

I appreciated Steinbeck's style in The Red Pony which we read as a group a few months back, together with veracious descriptions of a hard way of life on a farm, but this one brings it to a wholly different level. I definitely need to read more by Steinbeck now (which I already knew, anyway :)


Joseph Fountain | 287 comments This will be a reread for me of one of my favorite short stories. I know a lot of people hate this story, and I get why...but I love it. It is incredibly powerful. I know this thread allows spoilers, but I still won't go there just yet.

Does anyone else remember Looney Tune characters (two cats), named George and Lennie based on the characters from this novel?


Nathan | 421 comments Joseph wrote: "Does anyone else remember Looney Tune characters (two cats), named George and Lennie based on the characters from this novel? "

I think so. I remember this one too, where the Lennie-yeti thinks Daffy is a rabbit:
https://youtu.be/2JlVqfC8-UI

I'll be joining on this. It will be a re-read for me. I read it once, about eight years ago.


Joseph Fountain | 287 comments Phil wrote: "I think it's bloody brilliant. Masterfully crafted!
The ending is all there, it's all foreshadowed.
It still shocked me mightily."


I agree...but I love your description of "bloody brilliant" As a Yank, I can't pull that off...have to stick with something like "freakin awesome".


Joseph Fountain | 287 comments Nathan wrote: "I think so. I remember this one too, where the Lennie-yeti thinks Daffy is a rabbit:"

I vaguely remember that one.



message 15: by Beth (new) - rated it 4 stars

Beth (beth_jones8) | 10 comments I just finished this about ten minutes ago and my heart hurts. I'll need probably a bit more time to digest it properly but I really enjoyed it.


message 16: by Anirban (new) - added it

Anirban Nanda (anirbannanda) | 4 comments I have started reading Of Mice and Men. Completed the previous month's one The Stranger, yesterday. And I am now going through the amazing discussion of the same. Sorry that I couldn't take part in the discussion then. I want to thank everyone for such a useful discussion. It is helping me a lot to understand The Stranger (currently reading it for 2nd time). Hope to discuss this one with learned readers like you.


Philina | 1562 comments Anirban wrote: "I have started reading Of Mice and Men. Completed the previous month's one The Stranger, yesterday. And I am now going through the amazing discussion of the same. Sorry that I couldn't take part in..."

I'm so happy you feel that way! I've learned so much during "the tour". It's totally worth all the time we put into it.
It's never too late to join up! You've already read the book twice, so should be better armed with alligator shotguns than we are.


Laurie | 1605 comments I read this for the third time, I think, last month and it was as heartbreaking as I remembered. Lennie is such a sad character because he is physically such a strong man, but he is one of the weakest and most vulnerable people in society. He is so simple, both in his mental capacity and in his wants in life. His greatest hope for the future at the farm that George wants to buy is to feed rabbits. He doesn't really understand that the farm would give him a life free from misunderstanding and cruelty, the things that George is always having to protect Lennie from.

I I understand why some readers don't like this novella because it is so sad. Just as we read in The Red Pony recently, one of the themes in OMaM is that life is hard and only the strong survive. The animals that Lennie accidentally kills, Candy's dog, Curley's wife and Lennie himself are all weak. They are the young, the old, female and mentally disabled. These are the vulnerable ones in our world and they don't always survive in Steinbeck's stories.


Joseph Fountain | 287 comments I'm taking my time with this, but I am appreciating this work even more as a reread. As others have already mentioned, there is a lot of foreshadowing and allusion that I couldn't have caught the first time, that NOW...I can see is "bloody brilliant."


siriusedward (elenaraphael) | 2011 comments Read this and loved it.the ending was poignant (?)...
The story is sad but there is a thread of hopefullness ...of a dream that sustains them through hard times....lennie's childishness and george's protectiveness...each mans( or womans) need for companionship...crooks and candys wish to be a part of the dream...the ending was sad...but life goes on...and maybe new friendship formed(?)...


message 21: by Matt (new) - rated it 4 stars

Matt (mmullerm) | 775 comments I just finished Of Mice and Men. The ending is sad, but unfortunately fitting. Crooks' loneliness was heartbreaking and George and Lennie's friendship was very moving. I enjoyed the book and want to read more Steinbeck now after reading this book.


Kelly B (kellybey) | 266 comments One thing that really struck me with this book was George's sense of responsibility towards Lennie. They were childhood friends (neighbors? am I remembering correctly?) , and that bond made George feel protective towards Lennie.

At the time the book was set and written, I would guess there wasn't much in the way of social services that could help Lennie. George was pretty much it.


message 23: by Amy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amy Eckert | 113 comments I have read this book several times, and the end always kills me. It's one of those books where every time I read it, I keep hoping the end changes. I think I might be the only person who feels pity for Curley's wife. She is so lonely and married to such a jerk. I'm not saying she is perfect, but I don't necessarily think she deserved her fate. This, to me, is a perfect piece of literature. It is written sparingly, but everything in it is important. It's amazing how much character development, conflict, and philosophy in this short book. It's just amazing. The feelings of hope, loneliness, friendship, and loss are things all humans can relate to. After East of Eden, I'd say this is his best novel. I've never been able to get through The Grapes of Wrath.


message 24: by Pink (new) - rated it 3 stars

Pink | 6556 comments I think the relationship between George and Lennie really comes across and even though I wasn't blown away when I read it, the story and emotion has stayed with me since.


message 25: by Phil (new) - rated it 3 stars

Phil Jensen | 627 comments I've taught this book twice and hated it both times. It's an incredibly well-written, effective book that I disagree with on a fundamental level. I think Steinbeck and I have very different ways of looking at humanity and the concept of hope.

My 14 year old students typically love it, though. Telling teenagers that the world is bad and there's no hope is just too easy.

I'm surprised to see so much love for The Red Pony on this thread. I thought that book was poorly constructed, even when considered as a series of short stories.


Paula W | 554 comments I finished it last night, and I loved it. The writing is so descriptive that I thought I was reading a screenplay at times. I could see everything happening, and I might have read parts of it through my fingers as if I were watching a scary movie. It has been a long time since that has happened with a book.
The foreshadowing was brilliant and not obvious or overdone. I keep going back to the part where Candy tells George "I oughtta of shot that dog myself, George. I shouldn't oughtta of let no stranger shoot my dog." *insert broken heart here*
I am looking forward to reading more Steinbeck soon.


Joseph Fountain | 287 comments As happens sometimes, a moment settled and hovered and remained for much more than a moment. And sound stopped and movement stopped for much, much more than a moment.

A very wise man once said: sorrow holds a beauty that joy will never know.

Of Mice and Men is miserably sorrowful, and poignantly beautiful.

This is not the only paradox. There are two murderers in this tale: one of them is the embodiment of innocence, while the other offers a display of unconditional, sacrificial love.

Let me be clear, George’s terrible, desperate act is morally and legally wrong. I am not condoning his action. But George loved Lennie. His action was misguided, but to his simple intellect, and hard worldly wisdom, it was the only course of action to save his friend.

I used the adjectives unconditional and sacrificial; let me explain. Early in the narrative, George is often stern with Lennie. He is like a parent hoping to correct childish foolishness. Again, I would say misguided. His words were too hard, too cruel, too insulting, but I believe he was trying to teach Lennie. And Lennie was after all, exasperating. The unconditional love is evident when Lennie commits his greatest blunder. There is no correcting it this time and no escape. There is no chiding from George – not a harsh word – just words of comfort. Words to let Lennie’s final moments be happy ones. And sacrificial? Do I need explain? The agony it causes George is nearly unbearable, even just in reading. He wasn’t acting for himself. He knew if the mob, or Curly, found Lennie first, Lennie’s final moments would be ones of confused terror. If somehow he survived, he knew the gallows would be more terror, and if somehow the law spared him the death penalty, George knew prison would be slow, unending agony for Lennie.

George loved Lennie. He loved him in a simple, misguided, desperate way. It was heartbreaking and beautiful.


Kelly B (kellybey) | 266 comments Paula wrote: "The foreshadowing was brilliant and not obvious or overdone. I keep going back to the part where Candy tells George "I oughtta of shot that dog myself, George. I shouldn't oughtta of let no stranger shoot my dog." *insert broken heart here*
I am looking forward to reading more Steinbeck soon.
"


The foreshadowing is really well done. Not just with the dog/Lennie dying but Curley's wife. The minute I read that his wife was a bit "loose" I knew it would mean trouble for Lennie and George, one way or another.

I think this book has been my favorite Steinbeck so far, but East of Eden ranks up there highly too.


Kelly B (kellybey) | 266 comments Phil wrote: "My 14 year old students typically love it, though. Telling teenagers that the world is bad and there's no hope is just too easy.
"


I can see how it would be appealing to teens! Not just the story and theme but it's an easy and quick read.

I've never read The Red Pony. I'll have to add it to the list to see what I think of it. Although I've loved Mice and Men, East of Eden, and Grapes of Wrath, I didn't care much for Tortilla Flats. There was another book by Steinbeck I've tried but gave up on early in....I think it was Cannery Row. For me at least, when Steinbeck's good he's great, but if one of his books doesn't resonate with me, it's like pulling teeth to finish it:-).


Chris | 235 comments Loving this book. Was hoping to finish last night. I'm about 60% in but it was getting late. If I can get some downtime this evening I will finish.

First Steinbeck for me. Have not read it before and have not seen the movie. My wife on the other hand wanted to start talking about it as I was reading. She couldn't believe I was going into it blind.


message 31: by Chris (last edited Mar 16, 2016 09:58AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Chris | 235 comments Just finished. Hard to put into words. But it definitely puts me deep in thought. Some of the comments here are very good and the observations are insightful.


message 32: by Pink (new) - rated it 3 stars

Pink | 6556 comments Nicely put Jennifer :)


message 33: by Bob, Short Story Classics (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bob | 4850 comments Mod
Joseph you stole my thunder, you’re a I mind reader. Reading your post was like reading my own thoughts.

This was technically a reread for me. I say reread, but in reality I can’t remember reading it. This one goes back to high school and I’m pretty sure I skimmed it and listened as the teacher and class discussed it. So while I’m familiar with the plot. I didn’t remember the writing style, the fast paced flow of the story, the stories compactness, not a word wasted, and most important. I didn’t remember the emotion. That knot in your throat that comes as the feeling of dread increases, as you realize that George must do the unimaginable.

The finality of George’s deed to many, perhaps most, probably seems cruel and harsh. I disagree. Did George have options? I didn’t see any. What choices were there when the first response by Curley is to incite a lynch mob? Only as an afterthought was someone sent to town to notify the law. Lenny’s fate was sealed the instant the bones in Curley’s wife neck broke. My sympathy is not with Lenny but with George. The magnitude of what George had to do could only leave his soul permanently scared. George truly saves Lenny, leaving Lenny to eternally tend the rabbits. The sacrifice for George was his future which at best will be haunted.


Joseph Fountain | 287 comments Bob wrote: "Joseph you stole my thunder, you’re a I mind reader. Reading your post was like reading my own thoughts.

This was technically a reread for me. I say reread, but in reality I can’t remember readin..."


Thanks Bob...it's always gratifying when someone has a similar reaction...great minds...all that. (and even better if I beat em to the punch. :)


message 35: by Alia (new) - rated it 4 stars

Alia | 228 comments It was ableist as hell. It was presented as though Lenny should have been euthanized (i.e. murdered) all along, and like George was just too sentimental to do it.

Sadly, it may have been the best life someone with his disability (I don't know what it was, Down's or autism or some intellectual disability that made his parents and everyone else feel that they had the right to treat him like shit and neglect his education) could have lived in that time. The alternative was probably institutionalization, and you don't have to read much Plath or "Neurotribes" to know how abusive institutions were.

So sure, let's feel bad for George. There was no way he could have gotten the man a trial and had him deemed mentally incompetent. No way.


Melanti | 2386 comments Alia wrote: "So sure, let's feel bad for George. There was no way he could have gotten the man a trial and had him deemed mentally incompetent. No way. ..."

Which would have resulted in him being institutionalized, and you've pointed out how abusive the institutions were at the time.


message 37: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa (lisarosenbergsachs) This book was written in the '30's so we have to take into consideration how the developmentally disabled were treated at that time. In fact, things didn't even begin to change substantially until the '60's when the Kennedys announced that that they had a sister with mental retardation and set an example for treating this population with compassion. It took until the late '80's for the Americans with Disabilities Act to be passed. Given that,the depiction of Lenny is very humane. George was Lenny's best ally at that time.


Rosemarie | 1549 comments I thought that the relationship between Lenny and George was very touching. Lenny has a lonely life ahead of him without George, but I think he did the right thing. The way the people like George were treated back then, especially if they were poor, was barbaric.


message 39: by Phil (new) - rated it 3 stars

Phil Jensen | 627 comments Alia wrote: "It was ableist as hell. It was presented as though Lenny should have been euthanized (i.e. murdered) all along, and like George was just too sentimental to do it.

Sadly, it may have been the best ..."


I have a little brother with mental disabilities. The first time I read OM&M was in high school. When I got to the end, it felt like Steinbeck was telling me that my brother was better off dead.

My view of the book has become a little more nuanced over time, but I still don't like it.

I have read 3 1/4 Steinbeck books so far: The Pearl, The Red Pony, OM&M, and 1/4 of Grapes of Wrath. Steinbeck's world view does not overlap much with mine, and that limits my appreciation of his work.


message 40: by Lynn, Revisit the Shelf (last edited Jul 01, 2019 12:29AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lynn (lynnsreads) | 2919 comments Mod
This is a SPOILER thread. Bob says that Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck was the first short story/novella read by the group when the short story category was created! We are back to the beginning. The short story category only has one thread and it is a spoiler thread.

I hope you plan on reading or rereading this classic tale with us as our Revisit the Shelf read in July 2019.

I had originally posted a link to an online pdf version, but turns out it is still under copyright. (It has a complicated copyright history and was part of a landmark court case.) I apologize for my mistake. I should not have put a link here.


message 41: by Lynn, Revisit the Shelf (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lynn (lynnsreads) | 2919 comments Mod
I love this short little book. Technically I believe it is a novella. I remember reading The Pearl when I was in school as a teenager. It was my introduction to John Steinbeck. I then quickly read Of Mice and Men and four other novels by Steinbeck in the next few years. I look forward to rereading this novella as an adult to see if my impressions change.

Have you read the book yet? What is your impression of John Steinbeck?


message 42: by Steve (new) - added it

Steve Lynn wrote: "I love this short little book. Technically I believe it is a novella. I remember reading The Pearl when I was in school as a teenager. It was my introduction to [author:John Steinbeck|5..."

Is this the current discussion for Of Mice and Men? :)


message 43: by Katy, New School Classics (last edited Jul 02, 2019 08:41PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Katy (kathy_h) | 9333 comments Mod
Yes, it is a reread for the group. We will continue with the previous discussion thread.


message 44: by Steve (new) - added it

Steve Katy wrote: "Yes, it is a reread for the group. We will continue with the previous discussion thread."

Okay, well, I was interested in this story because I read it when I was a teenager many years ago, and it really affected me. Maybe at least partly because I am a paraplegic with Spina Bifida, and the students at my school had a range of disabilities., including mental retardation.

Anyway, I just reread the book in two days, and it still holds up. It didn't make me cry like it did the first time, maybe because I already knew what to expect, and also just because I have experienced 42 more years of life since reading it the first time.

I think the story is an interesting character study, and that the way each character relates to the others is interesting. I like George and Lennie, though I think George could have been kinder at times. I suppose that it is perhaps more realistic to consider that over time, George may have become less patient with Lennie.

I would add that in my opinion there are places in the story that to me it seemed could have been written a little better. Nothing major, just minor things that made me think to myself, hmmm, this is a good story, but I think Tolkien was a better writer. (I am a big fan, and have read The Lord of the Rings at least 40 times). :)


message 45: by Katy, New School Classics (new) - rated it 4 stars

Katy (kathy_h) | 9333 comments Mod
I love Tolkien also, but Steinbeck can write well too. I'm rereading this story as it has been years since my last read.

When my son was in high school, they read this story and it touched him deeply then and is still his favorite. He has dyslexia and reading is not his favorite thing to do -- but this one has stayed with him.


message 46: by Lynn, Revisit the Shelf (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lynn (lynnsreads) | 2919 comments Mod
Steve wrote: "Katy wrote: "Yes, it is a reread for the group. We will continue with the previous discussion thread."

Okay, well, I was interested in this story because I read it when I was a teenager many years..."



I am glad you enjoyed it Steve. It's nice to have you join the discussion. I want to reread the book before I comment much. The last time I read it was about 40 years ago! I do agree that this book really builds empathy for the characters. I think that is one of Steinbeck's great strengths.


message 47: by Steve (new) - added it

Steve Katy wrote: "I love Tolkien also, but Steinbeck can write well too. I'm rereading this story as it has been years since my last read.

When my son was in high school, they read this story and it touched him de..."


Katy, I agree, Steinbeck was a good writer. I think I was partly struck by the difference in style, since I read almost no fiction. :)


message 48: by Steve (new) - added it

Steve Lynn wrote: "Steve wrote: "Katy wrote: "Yes, it is a reread for the group. We will continue with the previous discussion thread."

Okay, well, I was interested in this story because I read it when I was a teena..."


Thank you, Lynn. Wow, it has been almost as long for you as it was for me! Yes, I agree with you. I would say the only character who just wasn't nice was the boss's son on the ranch. Even his wife acknowledged that. :)


message 49: by Katy, New School Classics (new) - rated it 4 stars

Katy (kathy_h) | 9333 comments Mod
Why do you think the book begins and then ends at the pond?


message 50: by Steve (new) - added it

Steve Katy wrote: "Why do you think the book begins and then ends at the pond?"

I would say this is because the pond was where the men went for peace and solitude. Where they didn't have to deal with other people. A place they felt safe. :)


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