Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck is believed to be one of the novels written in the twentieth century. The major theme of this novel is revolving around the bitter experiences suffered by two workers; George Milton and Lennie Small, during the Great Depression period. It is often said that ‘In tragedies, the central character comes to a realization about his life or an understanding of life in general as a result of his suffering. This true of in the case of Of Mice and Men also. This paper explains how the central character George Milton of Mice and Men realize about his life as a result of his suffering.
The central characters of this novel are two migrant field workers; George Milton and Lennie Small. Milton was an intelligent man whereas Lennie Small, was a man with limited mental abilities. His behaviors were just like that of a child. During Great Depression, they traveled to different parts of California in search of fortune. Lennie created lot of problems to George since he was mentally retarded. George protected Lennie from mishaps and attacks from others. However, Lennie’s mental problems finally forced him to commit serious crimes like unintentional killing of a woman. George realized that Lennie is going to suffer a painful death penalty. The only thing George could do for his friend was to allow him to die peacefully without pain. George forced to shoot Lennie to save him from pain full death penalty. George dreamed of a prosperous future life even when he faced lot of troubles. He was optimistic and thought that the future life would be a happy one. However, his dreams never came true and he forced to kill Lennie to save him from painful death.
And George raised the gun and steadied it, and he brought the muzzle of it close to the back of Lennies head. The hand shook violently, but his face set and his hand steadied. He pulled the trigger. The crash of the shot rolled up the hills and rolled down again. Lennie jarred, and then settled slowly forward to the sand, and he lay without quivering. George shivered and looked at the gun, and then he threw it from him, back up on the bank. George sat stiffly on the bank and looked at his right hand that had thrown the gun away. The group burst into the clearing, and Curley was ahead. He saw Lennie lying on the sand. “Got him, by God.” He went over and looked down at Lennie, and then he looked back at George. “Right in the back of the head,” he said softly (Steinbeck, p.53).
The friendship between two extremely different personalities (George & Lennie) is one of the major themes of this novel. Even though they were entirely different characters both physically and mentally, they developed a deep relationship. In fact, Lennie considered George not only as a friend but also as a relative. They dreamed of purchasing a small piece of land and grow their own crops instead of working in the agricultural lands of others. They came very close to the fulfilment of their dream. However, destiny struck at the last moment, which ended up in the unwanted death of Lennie.
Only after killing Lennie, George realised more about his life. He has realised that it is difficult for human to control his life. It is often said that man supposes and God disposes. In other words, man can suppose anything, but his suppositions may be materialized only if the God’s blessings are with him. This is true in the case of George’s life also. He supposed many things in company the company of Lennie. However, God had other ideas. God never allowed George to attain his dreams.
George’s dream can be labelled as an average American’s dream during the Great Depression period. Nobody can blame George for dreaming about a prosperous future life. He never set big targets. He set only small and achievable targets. However, the destiny behaved cruelly and George failed to reach the target. George’s experience clearly says that nobody can control their life beyond certain limits. Of course hardworking may help a person to come close to his target. However, to reach the target, one needs a bit of luck and blessings from the Almighty.
To conclude, “Of Mice and Men” is one of the classic novels of twentieth century. It reminds us about the helplessness of human life. It shows that human has less control over his life and unexpected things can happen and life can be changed any time. Although George and Lennie came close to the fulfillment of their dream, they failed to achieve it because of the unexpected incidents.
Steinbeck, John. “Of Mice and Men”. 1937.