Thoughts: Of Mice and Men

25 Apr

Of Mice and MenOf Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I suppose we have to put our dreams down too. A man’s most intimate companion.

This is a story ensnared in loneliness. But wouldn’t we all want a companion like Lennie? He embodies such extremes, physically terrifying and mentally meek. A man who only has thoughts of protecting you but hasn’t fallen from innocence enough to take advantage of you. But each character settles for a life of solitude. The ranch workers squander their earnings in whore houses longing after the companionship of the dream of their own land. Curly’s wife is lonely in her marriage. Crooks is isolated from his co-workers. Candy’s dog is taken.

Beyond the harrowing experience of desolation, I find myself asking why men ought to live this way. Crooks, the black ranch hand who lives away from the bunk house and has no friend to speak intimately with, is in a position imposed by the social standards of the day. Both he and Lennie, because of his mental ineptitude, are social outcasts. The beautiful thing about Lennie is that he doesn’t seem to see it. His companions are the dream of he and George’s ranch and George. He doesn’t consider that George would ever leave or that the dream is really just a dream. But for him and Crooks, there is no place in the social order for them. Their alienation is imposed rather than embraced. Because of their circumstance, it seems inevitable that they will be purged from normal people and normal society. The established social rules keep men ashamed, helpless and self-loathing. Who are you to realize such a grand dream? You don’t belong with us! Again, only Lennie is too dumb to realize this. And even though Curly’s wife is lonely, there’s a place for her in the order as she, in a way, ousts Lennie.

For some, this loneliness is self-imposed. It is truly odd that we would attack the very thing that would remedy our isolation. We give up our dreams, let them die with our innocence, because circumstances are beset against us and we kill their inspiration perhaps because it is easier to live without the burden of longing for more.

I find this oddly inspiring. A tragedy of this magnitude must make people realize what is too valuable to give up.

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Posted by on April 25, 2012 in John Steinbeck


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