Sunday, July 31, 2016
Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck
This didn't fit into the 2016 Reading Challenge, but it DID fit in the Rory Gilmore reading challenge and it was short and on the bookshelf at the library when I happened to be there looking for something. So I grabbed it. All I could remember was that my friend Carolyn read it in high school for an honor's English book report. And she didn't like the ending.
It's interesting, all these books that are high school reads, but my high school self did not have enough life experience to fully understand, comprehend, or even begin to appreciate these things. In freshman honor's English, we had to read The Pearl by John Steinbeck. I hated the ending SO much I have never picked up another one of his books since then until now. NOW I can appreciate what he was trying to portray and have an ability to attempt to see a different point of view. I know I was limited in that capacity as a youth, even though I know I truly tried.
Anyhow, this book is interesting because it's told from the objective third person, which isn't common for a novel. It reads almost like a play, and I guess it was turned into a movie, though I haven't watched it. But because of this perspective, you never know what's going on inside of anyone's head. That's one reason it adapts so well to screen; because there are no thoughts to try to figure out how to show or things being left out because they are only thoughts. But it's also hard to draw conclusions because you can't tell for sure what's going on inside minds unless they're verbalized.
So the main characters, Lennie and George are together. Lennie is a really big guy and is mentally slow. George looks after him. You don't find out why they are always together for awhile, which was a bit curiosity for me. And it's interesting, because it was George realizing the depth of Lennie's capacity to understand and his own cruelty towards him before this epiphany that causes him to decide he will take care of Lennie and make sure he's all right. But then something happens and George can no longer do that. In that time (Great Depression era), mental illness was handled in a much different way and many times people who were institutionalized were not treated well. And also, the man who wanted revenge on Lennie was really bent on torture. Something Lennie would have no understanding of. He knew he had done something bad, but he had no comprehension REALLY about what had happened and he wouldn't have connected his actions with cruel punishment. So in that sense I can understand George's ultimate choice. But I still wish there had been a better way.
I tried to find more explanation for this book online, and didn't come up with a whole lot. The purpose was just to show the hard times and the injustice of some people's lives. There wasn't anything about Steinbeck protesting the treatment of mentally ill people, but it could certainly be perceived as that as well.
I gave it 3 stars, but truthfully, I give it a solid 3.5. I just didn't enjoy it enough to bump it up to 4.