Of Mice and Men

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Of Mice and Men

Of Mice and Men - Hardcover - USA - First Edition.jpg

Hardcover - USA - 1st Edition.

Author John Steinbeck
Published 1937-??-??
Type Fiction
Genre Drama, Western
Themes Drama, Farm, Friendship, Tragedy
Age Group Adult

Of Mice and Men is a novella written by John Steinbeck and published in 1937. Steinbeck explained that the book is inspired by his own life when he was a migrant worker in the 1910s. The title comes from the Robert Burns poem, To a Mouse, which includes the famous line, "the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry." The book is frequently challenged in public libraries. It has been adapted to film five times, to stage in the form of a play and opera, and audio in the form of a radio drama and various audio books.

The story is set during the Great Depression and follows George Milton and Lennie Small, two men who have gone to California to find work, and are ultimately trying to save up enough money to buy their own farm. George is small and intelligent, but uneducated, and Lennie is very large and strong, but mentally disabled. George looks after Lenny, and Lenny protects George, but Lenny, living in a time when people refuse to help mentally disabled people, keeps inadvertently getting into trouble, and their latest work assignment holds many dangers for them both.


Read?Audiobook read by Julian Rhind-Tutt.

When I was a teenager, my parents rented the 1992 film with Gary Sinise and John Malkovich. I liked it, but wasn't able to see the ending, so someone in my family explained the ending to me. I think in 11th grade, I was assigned to read it in English class, but I instead relied on my knowledge of the film to pass the test. After the test, our teacher showed us the campy Randy Quaid version. Multiple students, including myself, asked if we could see the better version, but the teacher refused.

In my 40s, I had access an audiobook of it, and, knowing how good the film was, I was eager to finally read it. It very much enjoyed it.





  • The hopelessness of the setting is a grim reminder of just how awful life was during the Great Depression.
  • George and Lenny's desire to have their own place is really touching, as is the hope of Candy and Crooks to join them.
  • The scene where Curley's wife threatens Crooks is very intense and tragic.
  • Lenny's mental disability is elaborated by his fondness for textures, repetition of phrases, and inability to remember things.
  • Candy regretting that he allowed his dog to be shot by a stranger is nice foreshadowing for how George deals with Lenny.


  • There is a bit too much repetition in the dialogue. Not just from Lenny, but most of the other characters too.
  • There is a lot of racism in the book. This fits the setting, and serves as a reminder just how awful people were, but it's still difficult to get through.


  • Nothing.





  • His ear heard more than what was said to him, and his slow speech had overtones not of thought, but of understanding beyond thought.
  • "Ain't many guys travel around together," he mused. "I don't know why. Maybe ever'body in the whole damn world is scared of each other."
  • Crooks had reduced himself to nothing. There was no personality, no ego—nothing to arouse either like or dislike. He said, "Yes, ma'am," and his voice was toneless. For a moment she stood over him as though waiting for him to move so that she could whip at him again; but Crooks sat perfectly still, his eyes averted, everything that might be hurt drawn in.


Strong female character?FailCurley's wife has desires, and uses manipulation to try and get them, but ultimately chose a life of subservience.
Bechdel test?FailThere is only one woman and she isn't even named.
Strong person of color character?PassThough he is the only person of color on the farm and physically disabled, Crooks has managed to get his own room and gather possessions, and is also willing to leave for a stake in his own land.
Queer character?FailThere are no queer characters.


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