Boekverslag: Of Mice and Men
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Of mice and men
Steinbeck, John E.
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?h Title and explanation: The title of the book is ??Of mice and men?? I think the book is called that way, because the story is about two men. One of these men (Lennie) is very fond of mice. He likes to pet them, but wen he does, he always squeezes them to death. This is a metaphor for the whole story. Lennie doesn??t mean to harm, but he always gets into trouble because he??s dumb and very strong.
?h Year of first publication: 1937
?h There are no mottos or subtitles in this book.
?h Point of view: Third person past. Effects on the reader: The reader gets an objective and clear picture of the whole situation described in the story. When a story is told in the first person, de reader only gets a picture of the situation of how the ??I?? person sees it. That can be confusing. In the third person past, the writer can put his ideas very clear and readers will accept his ideas easier. (The writer describes his opinion and the reader accepts it, because in the story it is a fact.)
?h Structure: Of mice and man has a very simple structure. There are no chapters and the story isn??t divided in parts. The story is completely in chronological order. There are no flash- backs. There is no use of special effects in printing The only strong climax is at the end of the story, when Lennie has gone too far and George shuts him for his own good. George has always protected Lennie; he would never harm him. Because Lennie went too far, that changes. That??s the climax.
?h Outline of the plot:
Lennie Small, a big and very strong man with the mind of a child, and George Milton, Who steers Lenny through life and protects him when his strength and mind of a child brings him in trouble, are travelling together from ranch to ranch to get work. They are now walking to a near- by ranch where they are expected. George tells Lennie not to say a word when they arrive, because he would just screw it up.
Lennie has screwed up big time at the last ranch. (George and Lennie had to leave because Lennie scared a girl). The men stay for the night at a lake. Before they go to sleep, Lennie makes George to tell him he has obviously heard many times before. It??s about a little farm that George and Lenny will own, once they have made enough money. Lennie loves that story because there are rabbits in it of which Lennie will take care. Lennie is fond of little soft things, like mice. He likes to pet them, but because of his strength, he always squeezes them to death. He is too dumb to realise that mice and other small animals can??t stand hard touching. At the lake, George also tells Lennie that he will never leave him alone, even if Lennie keeps on doing stupid things.
The next morning, George and Lennie arrive at the ranch. At the ranch they meet Candy, an old cleaner, with his old dog. Candy shows them their beds. After Candy comes the boss. He doesn??t seem to like George and Lennie because Lennie doesn??t say anything and they are late for work. George tries to convince the boss they are good workers. He succeeds. When the boss is gone, George and Lennie meet Curly, the son of the boss. Curly is a very mean man. He always thinks someone is trying to steal his wife (she is very pretty and tries to flirt with everybody) and he hates big, strong guys because he can??t stand he isn??t the strongest. Therefor he immediately hates Lennie. George decides to keep Lennie away from Curly. When Curly has left, his wife suddenly appears. She says she is looking for Curly, but what she really wants is to see the new men. George doesn??t want to have anything to do with her and he warns Lennie for her. When the other workers come back for supper, George and Lennie get to meet them. They are called Slim and Carlson. Slims dog has just got puppies, and because Lennie loves soft things, he can have one when they are old enough. Lennie is thrilled en immediately goes to the stables, where the puppies are. In the mean time, George explains Slim about Lennie. Slim is very impressed about the friendship that George and Lennie have.
A little while later, George and Lennie talk about their plans for a little farm of their own. They don??t realise that Candy hears all of it. Candy asks if he is allowed join George and Lenny. Candy is old, and he has saved some money. George agrees. The dream of George and Lennie is close to come true.
That same night, Curly is coming in the workers bunker. He is furious. Carlson has just told him that he should take better care of his wife. Of course, Curly decides to unload his anger on Lennie. He starts to beat Lennie up. Lennie doesn??t do anything, because George told him to. Only when George tells him to, Lennie starts to defend himself. Lennie crushes Curly??s hand. The workers make Curly say it??s from a tractor.
On Saturday night, all workers go to a bar except Lennie. Lennie goes to the puppies and to Crooks, a black stable boy. (George and Lennie had never spoke to him before, they only saw him) Crooks lets Lennie into his bunker (no one else may) They start a conversation. Suddenly, Curly??s wife steps into the room. She refuses to leave. The conversation between Lennie and Curly goes on. Lennie tells Curly about the dream of George, Candy and himself. Crooks also wants to join them. Then George comes back. He??s mad at Lennie for telling about the dream they have.
That makes Lennie very sad. (He does everything to make George happy)
The next morning, Lennie is with his puppy in the stables. He has killed it by petting it too hard. Lennie is afraid that George wouldn??t let him tend the rabbits at their farm so he tries to hide it. Then Curly's wife comes in. She asks Lennie to touch her hair, because it??s very soft. He does that, but he can??t stop. Curly??s wife starts to struggle and scream, but suddenly, she is still. Lennie broke her neck, she is dead.
Lennie runs to the lake where they started. (George told him so, if there were trouble) In the mean time Candy finds the body and warns George. George goes looking for Lennie. He finds him at the lake. George asks Lennie to take of his hat and watch over the lake. Lennie does that. He always obeys George. He knows George loves him. George tells Lennie for the last time about the future and makes sure that Lennie understands he isn??t mad. Then he shoots Lennie in the back of his head, just before the others arrive. (Curly wanted to kill Lennie too). George is very sad. He killed his best friend, who was totally dependent on him. With Slim He goes to a bar where he spends all of his saved money.
?h Description of the characters: George is a main character. He??s round. He??s bright and quick. George is small, has small hands, slender arms, a thin bony nose, sharp eyes and strong figures. He is a kind, softhearted person. The anger and sharpness that sometimes can be seen in him is not a reflection of his temperament, but the result of the way he is forced to live. (George is a poor ranch worker with no further future) It??s also a result of the tension that looking after Lennie bring with. George feels a big responsibility towards Lennie. Lennie needs George, but George also needs Lennie. Without Lennie, George would be all alone. Now he has a sense of being different to all other ranch workers. George is a good judge for other people??s characters. He can sense Curly and his wife will bring trouble, and that Slim is a man to be trusted. George is quiet, modest and a good worker. He??s a peaceful man.
During the story George changes. First he learned not to take advantage of Lennie and clear thinking, because taking care of Lennie required that. At the end he realises that he should let go of the dream and make an end to Lennies life. He takes responsibility to solve the problem best as possible (Lennie killed a women) George has grown up during the story.
Lennie is also a main character, but he??s flat. His personality doesn??t change during the story. Lennie is a big, strong and slow guy. He??s very dumb and can??t take care of himself. Therefor he needs George. Lennie is a good, kind and loyal person. He wouldn??t do anyone harm on purpose. He dreams, just like George of a place of their own. He trusts blind on George and tries to do everything he says (that doesn??t always succeed) Lennie loves little soft things like mice and rabbits. He always wants to tend them, but when he does he squeezes them to death, because he doesn??t know his own strength. Lennie is a child in a grown up body.
Candy is an old cleaner on the ranch where George and Lennie are expected. He??s a flat, minor character. He is a nice man and dreams of a better life.
Slim is an important ranch worker. He??s very smart. He??s a flat, minor person. He can analyse people very well and he knows there??s no way out of his situation. He seems to be the happiest person on the ranch, because he doesn??t dream of a better situation. He can find it very well with George
Carlson is another worker on the ranch. He??s also a flat, minor person. His character isn??t well explained in the story. All I know that he??s quickly mad and sometimes has a very bad temper. His heart is on the right place.
Crooks is a flat, minor person. He??s a black stable buck. His body looks very strange because he is beat up very much. He??s very unhappy and lonely. He??s bittered and dreams of a better life. (What he will never get.) With this character, Steinbeck condemns racism.
Curly is a flat, minor person. He is the son of the boss He??s a mean guy. He likes to prove he??s strong and important. He??s small, but a very good boxer. He??s very jealous. He always thinks, his wife is cheating on him.
Curly??s wife is also a flat, minor person. She thinks she is very pretty and tries to flirt with everyone. She is the stereo- type bimbo. Her problem is her husband. She isn??t allowed to do anything.
?h Setting: The story is set in America, probably Texas. It takes place in a very rural surrounding. The story is set between 1929 and 1937. (economical crisis) The atmosphere in the story is very sober. I think I can describe it best as ??one clear line of truth?? I can almost taste the bitterness of the people in the story.
?h Themes and explanation: There are three themes in the story. First is friendship. Friendship is seen as something with positive and negative aspects. It??s also drawn as something One person sees in another way than another. The theme is shown in the friendship between George and Lennie and the changes in this friendship. The second theme is loneliness. (close related to friendship). George expresses this theme most powerful. ??Guys like us are the loneliest guys in the world. They got no family. They don??t belong no place?? The story describes how dreadful it is to be lonely. This to themes can be melted into one: The difference between loneliness and friendship. Ore, the difference between hope and hopelessness. The third theme in the story is the (failure of the) American Dream and hope fore the future. Many characters in the story are still hoping they someday will have a better life. Without that hope they cannot live. In this story this dream is seen as something that will never be reached. At the end of the story everybody sees that the situation is hopeless. So, the main themes of this story are hope and hopelessness.
?h Types of novel and explanation: Of mice and men is a novel of character and a social novel. The story is about the development of George, a dreaming man. (explained earlier in ??themes?? And ??characters??) In the story the writer also criticises the agricultural society in the early 30??s (economical crisis) He criticises discrimination. (Crooks is treated bad), (Candy is neglected) and the low social stands of farm workers where is no way out.
?h Style of writing: Steinbeck has written this story totally in dialect. (I think Texan) This brings a very real atmosphere. Sometimes he uses detailed descriptions, sometimes he doesn??t. He uses a lot of humour and irony. This is very important to expose his ideas to the reader. His writing is not hard to follow, so ordinary people can read the story (and his ideas) too.
?h Personal opinion: I think it??s a very clear and realistic story. It??s not hard to read and the story is very interesting and moving. I would sure recommend the book to others.
?h Name: John Steinbeck
?h Nationality: American (California)
?h Dates (John Steinbeck was born in 1902, he died in 1968
?h Description of life: After studying science at Stanford University, John worked successively as labourer, druggist, caretaker, fruit-picker and surveyor. He started writing in 1929. His most successful book is ??The grapes of Wrath??. He wrote that in 1939. In 1962, Steinbeck won the Nobel Prize of literature.
?h Subject matter/ themes: Steinbeck uses the themes ?? friendship, family, the American dream and hopelessness a lot. Within these themes, he explains his point of view on life.
?h Literary period: John Steinbeck is a modernist. Modernism is a collection of different ??streams??. Within the modernism, Steinbeck was a writer of the in Dutch called ??nieuwe zakelijkheid?? (short and clear phrases, without very detailed descriptions) His style was expressionistic. (??reach the inner meaning??)
?h Links of these facts with the novel read: It??s very clear that what I earlier described as ??one clear line of truth?? Is in my own words ??new- pragmatism?? combined with expressionism. In ??of mice and man??, the literary stream of the writer is very clear. Also the themes that Steinbeck usually uses are in ??of mice and man??.
?h General history: After the First World War (1914-1918), America had become a world force. Economically it went very well. Everybody bought new findings with borrowed money. (The roaring twenties). In spite of the wealth, America had many problems, such as discrimination. The period of wealth stopped in 1929, because of the Wall-Street crash. Everybody had to pay his or her borrowed money back. Unemployment was the result. In 1933, President Roosevelt introduced the ??New Deal?? to fight the depression. In the end, the 2nd World War made an end to the depression. 1934, the year in which ??of mice and men?? was written was in the middle of the crisis. At that point the American dream (own car etc.) was fallen apart.
?h Literary history: In the period, in which ??of mice and men?? is written, was in America a period of modernism. Themes, such as failure, hopelessness and the (failure of the) American dream were very common. Many American writers saw the future as a black hole because of the depression. Also racism was a very popular theme, because that was a big problem in America.
?h Links with the writer and the novel: The writer and also the novel are very typical for this period, in general and in literary aspect. All characteristics of this period can be found in the novel as well in the style of the writer.
Steinbeck schreef in een naturalistische/sociaal realistische stijl, vaak over arme mensen uit de arbeidersklasse. Zijn werk The Grapes of Wrath (De druiven der gramschap) vertelt het verhaal van de Joads, een arme familie uit de Amerikaanse staat Oklahoma tijdens de "Dust Bowl", en hun reis naar en hun problemen in de staat CaliforniŽ. De roman stelt op indringende manier het immigratievraagstuk aan de orde en wordt gezien als een verdediging van de armen tegen de rijken.
- Of Mice and Men
- John Steinbeck
- Meer boeken van:John Steinbeck