book club: young as the morning, old as the sea. discussion

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message 1: by nicky (new)

nicky (nickysamira) | 53 comments So, I finally finished "Of Mice and Men" a few days ago and I am heartbroken.
It was such a moving story. Lennie was such a sweet and lovable person, always jabbering about the rabbits and wanting to pet them. Just like an overgrown child and I was so happy that George (and most of the other men on the farm) saw that he was just this gentle creature. I was happy that George was someone who took care of him, felt a certain responsibility towards him... that he wanted to take him to his dream of a farm with him and that he took him with him everywhere he went - he could have just as easily fled and Lennie never would have found him.

I suppose that is a reason why the ending struck me so hard: I was disappointed in George. I mean: we never get any insight - there is no explaining thought we read about that tells us why George suddenly - and after everything the two went through together - does what he does.
I would like to see his action as a certain kind of mercy: Lennie would not have survived in a prison or anywhere else they would have put him. I would like to think (and I do believe it was that way) that George did not have a choice and that he didn't just want to "rid" himself of poor Lennie.
I guess that's the reason Steinbeck gives us the shooting of the dog before: Candy says it should have been him to shoot his dog, not one of the others. And George does just that in the end: he kills the person that depended on him - and he does it himself.

Sure, you could argue if Lennie did have to die - in my opinion not even the poor dog had to die - but I suppose that this is a rather "modern" perspective. And then again: we put our pets to sleep as well nowadays.

I'm not exactly sure what I'm trying to write here anyways. So maybe this time a sort of discussion will arise.

What do you think:

Why did George kill Lennie?
Did he have to kill Lennie?
Does "Of Mice and Men" represent the (failure of the) American Dream (like every American writer's story ever)?
Am I the only one who thinks the story should have been named "Of Mice and Rabbits" (sure, the alliteration would have been lost, but I really found the whole rabbit image extremely sweet and oh so innocent)?
Am I the only one who had to think of John Coffey (from Stephen King's "The Green Mile") when reading about Lennie (at least to a certain extent)?


message 2: by julia (new)

julia | 24 comments A heartbreaking story for sure! Really loved it, though. It was not overly elaborate, which I enjoyed, just a simple read that left me thoughtful and slightly subdued.

I like what you said about the importance of the scene with Candy's dog in the whole entire story, Nicky, it's something I actually totally overlooked. But it makes a lot of sense in hindsight.

Did Lennie have to die is a question that I pondered over for quite a while. Seeing how Americans are rather radical when it comes to punishing people for certain crimes and that Lennie's obvious mental impediment wouldn't have made all that big of a difference in his sentencing if it came to a hearing/process in court (because of the time the story takes place), I think he would have had it worse in the hands of Curly and/or the justice system of America. So, I almost like to think of George's deed as a mercy killing and that it was necessary in so far as that George just wanted to spare Lennie all other consequences. And we know that it wasn't an easy thing to do for him, so I don't think there was any mean-spiritness behind George's decision at all.

On the other hand there remains the question: Why did he have to give away where Lennie was hiding at all? Couldn't he just have run away with him again? Or did he realise that, no matter how kind and simple Lennie was as a person and how little he wanted to harm anyone, that it couldn't go on this way - with Lennie killing not only mice and puppies now, but actual human beings?

So, for the discussion questions.

I think I answered Nr. 1 already to an extent. I think George wanted to spare Lennie anything that would have come his way if Curly and/or the police would have gotten their hands on him. But probably also because he realised that Lennie would always be dangerous and unpredictable and he himself couldn't watch over him every step of the way for all eternity.

2. Well, does anyone ever have to kill anyone?

3. Since you mentioned it before I think yes, the American Dream if definitely represented here. What annoys me so much (not actually in a bad way) is that the boys were close, weren't they? They had the money figured out, they had a house in sight. They didn't want much for themselves and it's so sad that it took such a terrible turn in the end, when everyone and their mother was betting on them.

4. During reading I came up with several different names I thought fitting for the novel as well (I forgot them all of course), but in the end I actually like "Of Mice and Men". It was has a nice ring to it. Even though the rabbits were rather more important than mice or men.

5. I can't answer that since I haven't read the book.

My question actually is: what did you think of the girl, whatshername? I couldn't assess her at all, didn't know whether I should hate or pity her.

I look forward to other members to join in this discussion! :)


message 3: by nicky (last edited Jan 27, 2017 12:21PM) (new)

nicky (nickysamira) | 53 comments Oooh good point about the wife. I don't know. She was bizarre. But I just think she kind of represents the American Dream as well - she wanted to be an actress after all, and it didn't work out, of course - and now she ist stuck in a loveless marriage with a stupid brute (well not anymore, she is dead) and only because she is a woman and has to marry someone to "be" someone. I feel sorry for her. I think she wanted to be more, to be someone actually - when she talked to Lennie I kind of felt that come across. She didn't just want to be his wife.

And about George giving away Lennie's hiding place ... I don't know. I just ... don't. Arrrggh. It's so hard to tell. We are not in that time and in their mindset. I think under the circumstances he really didn't have a choice, not a real one anyway. I don't want to come to his defense - but I think he couldn't take another path, there was no decision left sort of. It was already decided by society and by the circumstances.


message 4: by Xenia (new)

Xenia | 4 comments Soooo, finally (and just a little too late this time.. I'm getting better!) I finished of mice and men as well. But.. I don't really know what to think about the book: To be honest, I didn't really like it, even though I can't tell why. Or at least, not exactly. I liked the simpleness of the setting and the characters but then, I didn't really like any of the characters. I think the author took way too much time to underline that Lennie never does anything bad on purpose (or that he doesn't understand what he just did), the woman was just annoying (although I pity her to a certain degree - I'm sure it wasn't easy to be a woman in the Wild West) and George.. well, actually, he was ok. So I did at least like one of them to a certain degree :D. And I felt really sorry for him in the end, when he had to kill Lennie (let's just keep the question if he really had to aside, I think you can't ever get an answer everybody agrees to).

The only person I really pitied and emphasized with (and that you haven't mentioned at all, which is quite interesting) is the black guy. He might be sunk into self-pity, but he has every right to do so - guess being black was way worse than being a woman back than. (Not to think about how the lifes of black women must have been like...).
Well. I know this is not exactly helpful as a review, but as I mentioned before, I can't tell why I didn't like the book. Or maybe I don't even know myself. It's just the way it is, I guess.

Oh and PS: I personally think, killing Lennie was merciful under these circumstances, and it does not change my first impressions on George's character.


message 5: by nicky (new)

nicky (nickysamira) | 53 comments oooooh ! finally a third opinion ! bless you ! :D

Oh my you are right ! He really emphasised Lennies "goodness" a lot. Hadn't really thought about that.

As for the black guy .... boy what does that make of us. I guess I did feel sorry for him, but I felt so sorry for Lennie when he teased him, that maybe I harbored a minimal grudge against him for that. I mean... you always can argue (and rightfully do so) that he was just mean to Lennie (even if just for a little while) because everyone is usually mean to him - and I get that big time. It was hard to be black. It was unfair, it was wrong and downright cruel. I do not mean to defend people who treated black people horribly.
I don't want to go ahead and be all moral and say "you cannot fight fire with fire and hate with hate, only love can drive out hat etc." even though that is what I believe to be true. If I had been treated the way black people were treated back in these days (and some might argue even today) I cannot say that I would have been all nice and cheer-y and a forgiving Cinderella ... but still - you could tell that Lennie wasn't the brightest fella around -and picking on him just because it makes you feel strong once is not very nice and it kind of makes you a bully too.
Because let's face it: people looked down on Crooks (I just looked up his name) because they thought him to be beneath them - and Crooks kind of did the same thing to Lennie in that particular case. I don't mean to make him sound bad or anything, apart from that I do think he was an interesting enough character for such a short book. I'm just trying to explain why I think I didn't mention him in my previous comments.


message 6: by nicky (new)

nicky (nickysamira) | 53 comments and P.S. Xenia, you're not too late - we usually start and finish books the 10th of each month :)


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