Last summer, I was very impressed by a book I read in my Reading and Writing class in Vancouver, a novella called “Of Mice and Men”, written by John Steinbeck in 1937. It tells the story of George Milton and Lennie Small, two migrant ranch workers during the Great Depression in California. It impressed me because of the economic and social situation it describes and because of the suffering of the characters, who see their dreams crashed helplessly.
In fact, one of the main topics presented in the book Of Mice and Men is the disappointment that makes every character suffer in their own way. The principal factor which leads to suffering is the time were the story takes place, in the 30’s, right after the Great Depression of the USA, which lead to a very long period of economical instability, lack of work, and decrease of salaries. All this conditions lead to the increase of homeless and penniless people who would do any physical work for a low salary, like George and Lennie.
This is one of the main reasons for the suffering in the novella: they have to find work, even if they don’t like it, to survive and to try to save money to have one day their own house and to achieve the American dream of being their own bosses. But it is not easy for the characters in the story, because of the period of crisis we mentioned before, and because of Lennie’s mental disability, which makes it difficult to find a job and to keep it, since Lennie’s lack of control over his own strength gets him into trouble, and ultimately causes his death.
Another important character of the story is Crooks, the black worker of the farm. His suffering and disappointment comes from the fact that he is black in a period of time when discrimination against black people is common and accepted by most of the American population. He is isolated from other people in his room in the barn and he gets a horrible treatment from the boss. However, he remembers living with his family in their own farm, where everybody loved him, and where he was always together with his brothers. When he was a child, he never imagined his life would be like how it is in that moment, and that causes pain and disappointment in his life and in human beings, as well as the loneliness he feels since the other workers of the farm always keep their distance with him. In the book, he states: "A guy goes nuts if he ain't got nobody. Don't make no difference who the guy is, long's he's with you."
The readers can also see disappointment in Curley’s wife’s story. She was expecting to have a life full of love, acceptance and even fame. Her dream was to be an actress, and to be able to wear “nice dresses” and live in hotels, but it didn’t come true. And even when she married Curley to get away from her house and her mother, she was disappointed again when she realized Curley’s violent and possessive behavior and the way every worker in the farm treated her coldly, so she didn’t have anyone to talk to. So again, loneliness and shattered dreams are the cause of suffering.
And last but not least, it’s Lennie’s tragic death. George and him had a dream of having their own house and living together. But when Lennie kills Curley’s wife accidentally, George sees no way out of it, and has to take away Lennie’s life by his own hands, to spare him from a more painful and cruel death decided by Curley and because his conscience wouldn't let him let Lenny ran away on his own, since he wouldn't be able to survive and could be a danger for other people . By making that decision, he throws away that dream which they have been working for for so many years, and kills his only friend and family, the only person that really cared for him and that saved him from loneliness.
"Tomorrow night is nothing but one long sleepless wrestle with yesterday's omissions and regrets" - William FaulknerDamn, it's 4am...
Again, recycling homework is so much fun...