Essays on East of Eden
Essays on The Pearl

Of Mice and Men - Essay 8

The immoral nature of the human race

Of Mice and Men, was a disturbing tale of friendship, and animosity and immoral nature of the human race. Along the Salinas River and underneath the Gablian Mountains of California during the Great Depression of the 1930’s this novel takes place.

Steinbeck is truly a great writer, and Of Mice and Men is no exception, but while reading this book I was greatly troubled by its ending. I can see why it is an excellent novel, but at the same time it left me with a kind of unpleasant feeling in the back of my mind. I can’t see how an author could write a book with such a short and sudden ending. The last images he leaves the reader with is George and Slim walking off as Curly says " Now what in the hell is eating them?" thus the book ends on a harsh, cruel note, topped off by the lack of understanding and compassion of an extraordinarily immoral and cruel man. Whatever Steinbeck’s intent for writing such a jarring ending, he leaves the reader with a powerful sense of the world’s immorality.

In this book there were several characters, but only a few had significant roles. I would have to say Lennie is the protagonist of the book even though George is an extremely critical character as well. Lennie Small is described as being a monstrous man with the mind of a child, a shapeless face, big pale eyes, sloping shoulders, and big feet that dragged a bit when he walked, much like a bear. George has taken Lennie under his wing and thus Lennie depends solely on George for everything. Ever since Lennie hasbeen with George, he has told Lennie stories of a great place, with a cabin all to their selves, and rabbits for Lennie to care for. This leads me to his next obsession for feelingand caressing soft things such as fur, velvet, or human hair. This is eventually his downfall as when he kills Curley’s wife when he wants to feel her hair. Lennie is not an evil or devious man. He’s just a little senseless. Lennie’s good will and purity of intention is never in question during this book, but his memory operates poorly, and he is able to only remember such details as particular words and phrases as if only George tells him. Lennie is a good person it’s just his difficulty to think about his actions that eventually costs him his life.

George is the other main character in Of Mice and Men. He’s just an ordinary man, who is obligated to take care of Lennie, and does a fair job of it. His relationship with Lennie is admittedly a close one, but it is more fatherly than anything else and certainlyhas no time for the intellectual give and take that is needed to look after Lennie. Theauthor defines George’s features as restless, with strong small hands, thin arms, and abony nose. From reading this you can tell George has an incredible work ethic as he hasto put up with Lennie and still continuously find work for both of them. As you read thisbook you see that George is gradually starting to accept Lennie, but then that all ends when George is faced with the choice of letting Lennie be killed by Curley or just doingit himself.

Either way George is faced with a morally impossible task. As you know he ends up shooting Lennie himself in a tragic ending. Slim is not so much a main character, but is a critical piece to the book. He best described as the Prince of the ranch, a skilled workman, and a great friend to all in the bunkhouse. Curley is infuriated at the fact that everyone looks up to Slim instead of cowering at the power of himself. In times of Crisis Slim quietly and gracefully helps to solve whatever problem has arisen. This is why he was loved and endeared by all who knew him.

Curley is an arrogant stuck up man with a hatred for big men, such as Lennie. He could be classified as the villain of the book, as he is constantly making life miserable for Lennie and George. He is exactly like his father, who is the boss of the ranch, which makes clear the family pattern of bullies. Obviously Curley is insecure about himself since he is constantly looking to boss people around throughout the course of this novel.

Curley’s wife comes across as overly flirty with the workers of the ranch. This is in turn what probably gets her killed when she allows Lennie to feel her hair, which then she inaddvertainly gets her neck broken when Lennie gets nervous. She is not a main character, but much like Slim plays a vital role in the plot line.

Of Mice and Men starts out when George and his retarded friend Lennie get jobs working on a Californian ranch bucking barley. They soon fit in, and everyone pretty much accepts Lennie, except for the boss’s son Curley who hates him because of his disability and size. Other than that everything is fine until one day when Lennie is in the barn playing with the puppies Curley’s wife comes in and starts flirting with him. As the conversation between the two progresses, she allows Lennie to touch her long, soft hair.

As I said Lennie loves soft things, and when she tells Lennie to stop he refuses, and Curley’s wife starts to scream. This is when Lennie gets nervous and tries to make her be quiet. Not realizing his own strength he inadvertently breaks her neck, killing her instantly. Once he realizes what he’s done he runs to the secret spot by the river where George told him to go if he ever got into trouble. An old ranch hand by the name of Candy finds the body and tells George. When Curley finds the body of his wife he seems to be more set on killing Lennie than feeling any kind of remorse or sadness.

George knows where his friend is at and runs to find him knowing what must be done. Once he reaches the stream Lennie comes out of some bushes to great George. He seems to have no recollection of what he had just done. He asks George to tell him one more time about their dream farm, and the rabbits. George begins to tell it, and at the same time tells Lennie to turn around so he can invision it a little better. This is when George pulls out his gun and shoots Lennie in the back of the head, killing him. As the book ends Slimwalks up knowing what just happened, and it ends as the two of them walk down the road together while Curley says " Now what in the hell is eating them?"