Of Mice and Men
The two protagonists (classic wanderers, or tramps, Americans of the 1930s) are George Milton and Lennie Small, seasonal laborers who earn their living by wandering through the country from farm to farm.
Lennie, although endowed with an imposing size and an extraordinary physical strength (his surname is therefore an oxymoron), characteristics that make him an exceptional laborer, is affected by mental retardation: he is a big man with the mind of a child who is not in able to control his own strength, so much so that, often, he ends up inadvertently killing small animals he loves to pet, such as mice or puppies. Unable to lead an independent and independent life, Lennie finds his point of reference in George, completely relying on him. George, in contrast to the characteristics of his adventurer, is described as small and small in physique, but shrewd and sharp in mind.
Moreover, despite complaining more than once of the weight that Lennie represents for him, without which he would be free to enjoy life, he feels a strong affection towards him, since he is aware that facing the difficulties of life together with a friend is very better than having to stand alone. With Lennie he also shares the dream of buying, one day, a small piece of land where to lead a finally peaceful life, far from the humiliations of the laborer’s work, living on the fruits of the earth and in harmony with the many animals that Lennie dreams of taking care. This project, of which Lennie seems to be convinced, but which George also hopes to be able to achieve, is the illusion that allows them to endure the harshness of everyday life.
Once on the ranch, the two protagonists gradually become acquainted with all the other characters, starting from the Candy toilet brush, then the owner of the farm, Curley (the owner’s quarrelsome son), Carlson, Whit, Slim (the authoritative chief mule driver ), Crooks (the black groom) and Curley’s sensual wife. At the end of the novel, after a series of events that gradually increase the tension and clearly prelude to a tragic end, Lennie is in the stable looking after a few days old dogs when Curley’s provocative wife approaches him, who invites him to caress her hair; Lennie, with her unconsciously rough ways, ends up frightening the girl, who starts screaming to induce Lennie to let go. Lennie, however, terrified that the screams could attract the attention of other workers, in particular George, impulsively begins to jerk the woman forcefully to make her stop, ending up breaking her neck bone, killing her.
Realizing that he had made a big deal of trouble, Lennie ran away into the woods, to the place where George had indicated to him that he was hiding just in case of such an event. Meanwhile, the other workers, led by Curley, after finding the woman’s lifeless body, organize themselves to capture Lennie (with the probable will to kill him). However George, having jumped where Lennie would have taken refuge, decides to go there alone: having reached his friend, he chooses to kill him, in an extreme act of brotherly love, to remove him from the violence and murderous fury of Curley and the others laborers.
I discovered Steinbeck only a few months ago and the reading of his books has completely attracted me „Men and mice“ is a novel that is not very long but intense and full of meaning.