Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Review: Of Mice and Men (spoilers)

Of Mice and Men is a novella[1] written by John Steinbeck. Overtime there has been many adaptations to the famous story. I learned about the story from the radio play by BBC 4. It has left me feeling extremely emotional. Never suspecting the sad nature of the story I treated it as a bedtime story. The result was many heartbroken, cold sleepless minutes under the bed covers and later uneasy dreams. It left me feeling so broken that, even though the story fascinated me to the point that I wish to read the original, I will not be doing that anytime soon. Feelings need time to heal.

The main characters were George Milton and Lennie Small. The topic revolves largely on their strong friendship throughout the story. Lennie was a large and physically strong being, but his mental disability made him fragile and unable to take care of himself. Despite his appearances, Lennie was kind-hearted and always attracted to soft things. From the very beginning we learned that he had been with George for a long time and George has always took care of him. They were fleeing from a ranch they worked at previously because of misunderstandings caused by Lennie's love of soft things. On the way to find a new workplace, Lennie urged George to talk about their shared dream to one day save enough money to buy a piece of land and live their own happy lives. It was very sweet except their dream was already overshadowed by the dangers caused by Lennie's strength.

The play vividly introduces its audiences to the various characters George and Lennie met on the new ranch. Everyone had a story to tell; Everyone was lonely for one reason or another; And everyone dealt with their discontent differently. Some get together and took care of each other, others used bad means to satisfy themselves, still others took their rage out on everyone else. Unfortunately for Lennie, he became the victim of unfortunate times.

The tragic ending was not the reason the story utterly broke my heart. It was the cruelty of having had my hope risen up by the possibility that George and Lennie's dream were so close to realization, only to be plunged into deep sea when the fatal accident happened. But that was not the end of it. Naively, I hold on to the hope that George will find Lennie (Of course he did.) and together they will fled into the night once again. Alas, I did not understand that there was no running away again. I realized too late that George had to do what he did to save Lennie from a cruel and painful death. When George instructed Lennie to look away I did I understood with horror what he was doing, and I screamed internally: "Please don't do it... Please don't do it...." The sound of gunshot was far more painful than it should be to my mind. The only comfort to the audience was knowing that Lennie had probably died painlessly and escaped gruesome treatment and Lennie at least had another friend who understands him to keep him company.

Having finished the story, the most puzzling thing remaining is the title of the story. It was meaningless until I did some research on Wikipedia[2]. It was taken from a poem by Robert Burn:
The lest laid schemes o' mice and men
Gang aft agley. (often go awry)
All the plans George made all came to naught when the accident happened. What could he do when even the best laid plans can go wrong?