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Of mice and men
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|Tema:||Of mice and men||Verktøy:|
Author: John Steinbeck
Publisher: New Longman litterature
Year of publication: 1937
Number of pages: 156
”Guys like us, that work on ranches are the loneliest guys in the world. They got no family. They don’t belong no place… With us it ain’t like that. We got a future… because I got you to look after me, and you got me to look after you”
This is a sentence often said by George Milton, one of the two main characters in this novel by John Steinbeck.
The novel is a tale of the extraordinary friendship between two migrant agriculturel labourers George Milton and Lennie Small.
They work on ranches, they do not have any family, and they are very lonely, but they have each other. They also have one big dream, a small ranch of their own.
The story starts when George and Lennie rest in a clearing by the river, on their way to a nearby ranch where they expect to sign on for temporary work. The time is in the harsh depression years of 1930’’in Salinas, Northern California. They have just left their previous job in a hurry because the larger of the two men, Lennie was accused of attemted rape. As always, when he gets in trouble, and this time too, it was just because he likes to stroke ”nice things”.
Lennie is a giant of a man, but has the mind of a young child. He often gets into trouble, but never because of meanness. He is often misunderstood and when he wants to be nice, careing and loving by stroking ”nice things”, he usually ends up killing them because of his physical strength and menthal immaturity.
George is short of stature, intelligent and projects self-confidence. It is not told why, but he has for some reason taken on the responsibility of looking after Lennie. He always has to ”stand up” for Lennie and protect him of himself and others.
There, resting by the river, George asks Lennie to familiarise himself with the location of the clearing by the river where they are resting. George tells Lennie to return to this spot if he gets in serious trouble again.
The next day they arrive at the ranch, and they go to the bunk-house ( the house where the workes live) where they meet most of the other main charaters in the story.
Candy is an ”old swamper with only one hand, Curley is the boss’ son, and the boss, who is suspicious that George will not let Lennie speak up for himself. Curleys beautiful young wife is also there. She likes to fliert with the other men. She is also a lonely person who married Curley in an attempt to escape from her miserable life with her mother. Curleys wife cannot escape from the sexual image that the other men have of her. Therfore when Curley fail to satisfy her, either emotionally or physically, she is lead to seek company with the other men, even those at the bottom of the sosial hierarchey of the ranch.
Carlson is one of the established workers. He keeps a Luger pistol under his bed.
Slim is the ranch owners number one worker. He is the foreman. He is very much liked and respected by the other workers and he is also friendly towards George and Lennie.
Crooks is the only black person in the novel. He does not live with the other men in the bunk house. He is isolated in his own room in the barn. This is because he is black, and black people’s position at that time in America was low. We also gain insight of this in an episode where Curleys wife attacks him verbally, using her superior social status as a white woman.
Curley is a bully and an ex-boxer, and soon after Georg and Lennie arrive at the ranch, he provokes a fight with Lennie. Lennie don’t want to get into trouble, so at first he let Curley beat on him. When George tells Lennie to get him (Curley), Curley’s hand is crushed by Lennie’s uncontrolled strength. Slim persuades Curley that to avoid further humiliation, it would be in his best interest to pretend that his hand got caught in allmenn machine.
Slim’s ”bitch dog” has recently given birth to puppys, and Lennie begs George to ask him if he will give one to Lennie as a pet. Lennie gets the puppy, and spends much time in the barn, right next to the new born puppies.
George, at Lennie’s insistence, describes to him again, and again their dream farm, where they will have vegetables, cows and rabbits. Lennie is excited about having rabbits because they are nice and soft, and George promise him that he will be responsible for looking after the rabbits when they get their own farm. They only have to ”get the jack together” first. (save up the mony). One day when George is telling Lennie about their dream farm, Candy who is listening in, also becomes enchanted by the idea of getting their own place.
One saturday, all the men except Lennie, Candy and Crooks go into town. Crooks, the black one, allows Lennie into his room, which is very unusual because he is seperated from the white men. Crooks give Lennie the idea that George may not return, leaving Lennie on his own. Lennie begins to panic at this thought and Crooks is forced to apologise in attempt to calm Lennie down. Lennie is very happy when George return from town.
Later when most of the men are outside the barn playing at throwing horseshoes, Lennie is in the barn where he just accidentally killed his pup by stroking it to hard. Curley’s wife comes in and starts to flirt with Lennie who confess to her that he likes to stroke nice things. She invites him to stroke her long soft hair, but as his stroking becomes harder, she panics; the harder he strokes, the more she panics and in the end, Lennie accsidentally breaks her neck. He half buries her body in the hay and runs off to the place George told him to og to if he got in serious trouble.
Candy discovers the dead woman and informs George about it. George tells Candy that the other men might think he was part of the killing, so he tells Candy that he will go to the bunk house and wait there until Candy have told the other men about the dead woman . Then he would come along and pretend he never saw her.
Then Candy informs the rest of the men about the dead. Curley is furious, and decides to seek revenge, organising a man hunt to get Lennie and kill him. At this time George is back and joins the hunt. At this time in the novel, Steinbeck is not telling us why George asks Candy to let him go to the bunk-hose before the other discovers the dead body. But at the end of the story, we discover that George went to the bunk house to steal Carlson’s Luger pistol.
George is now part of the hunt for Lennie. He is afraid what the other men will do to Lennie, so when he meets up with Lennie at the clearing by the river where he had instructed Lennie to go in the event of any trouble, he shoots him in the back of the head. When the other men arrive at the clearing by the river, George tell them that Lennie stole the gun, he took it away from him, and then shot him. It is not said, but George killed Lennie because he loved him. He would not let the other men lynch him.
I liked this book very much and I will reccomend it for my friends. It`s allmenn short story and easiley read, but the language is very much ”slang”. The story is both sad and nice, the friendship between George and Lennie is very special and Steinbeck describes it veru well. The story is sad because of the outcome of the story. They had so many dreams that were not fullfilled.
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