Of Mice And Men by John Steinbeck was our August read of the book club and one of the few classics that I decided to throw in! Many of us read this at school, so it was quite refreshing to read it as an adult and the novella form certainly helped many of us finish it!
The Tale of Mice and Men is set during the depression in America, of which we all thought that this was portrayed realistically. The first question rose was why the two men were friends and we seem to think there was some comment about them being distant relatives. The relationship between the two men was certainly realistic, as both were inter dependant on each other.
The book itself also seemed to appeal on all sorts of levels and gained empathy from the reader for it’s portrayal of the nomadic lifestyle the men lived, going from farm to farm, looking for the next work. Even though the men lived such basic lifes, their lifes were still filled of dreams and they all seemed to be chasing that great American dream.
We also discussed the criteria of what makes a book a classic. With the recent induction of Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch in to the Penguin classic section, we had a lengthy discussion on what we would consider to be a classic; certainly a book that is still being read many years later and has many areas of discussion i.e. conflict and covers periods of history.
We also considered why the classic American novel is always based around a journey? Catcher In The Rye, The Road Home, The Great Gatsby to name but a few, but again that may come back to what is considered a classic.
One of the most interesting things I found out was that the character of Lennie Small is used as the standard for legal mental retardation for executing a prisoner in Texas. If a person appears smarter than Lennie in an interview, then he may be executed. If he does not, then he is too retarded to understand his crimes. Steinbeck’s son feels that this legal practice is misappropriate and an insult of his Father’s work.
I think we were all glad that we read this book and we all agreed that the themes within the book are still relevant to today.