Of Mice and Men: Literary Analysis Essay
The book by John Steinbeck is a literary classic, a simple story with great character development. It is a heart-wrenching tale of true friendship. The book discusses the time of Great Depression of 1930s in the United States. The award-winning author explores the lives of the agriculture workers who migrate from one place to another in search of work. Its major focus is on the labor class of the United States and their hopes and dreams. Two friends who are in search of jobs in depression go on to make the story a powerful touch to reality taking the reader back in the 1930s. The climax of the book shows that regardless of the tragedies and mishaps of life the show must go on for the people who survive.
The novel starts with two friends George and Lennie who are on foot crossing the country in search for jobs. The story focuses on the Salinas Valley of California and its agricultural workforce migrants. The book depicts the scenes and scenery in such an eye-catching manner thus capturing complete readers’ concentration and making them a part of the same scene. ‘A few miles south of Soledad, the Salinas River drops in close to the hillside bank and runs deep and green. The water is warm too, for it has slipped twinkling over the yellow sands in the sunlight before reaching the narrow pool.’ (Steinbeck) This depiction of the valley by the author practically takes the readers back in the time where the story was written and they find themselves a part of the scene.
The character of George is a cynical one, however his brother like friend Lennie is a man of strength but has a mental disability. Due to his mental disability he is like a child and is slow in terms of learning and comprehending things. George is although the rowdy one in the pair but treats Lennie like his little brother. They share the same dream of owing their own piece of land and farm. The ranch that they work in is a part of their dream and the story shows how people in the lower income group feel helpless and depressed when they are unable to achieve their dreams and desires. The story progresses to explain the prejudice against the worker class and the mentally challenged people. Lennie the mentally disabled character is firstly convicted of rape although all he did was touch the dress of a woman. This allegation makes the two friends leave the town in order to escape the discrimination against them. Later in the story Lennie mistakenly murders a women when she caused panic making him scared enough to take her life. This murder then develops the story into a very tragic end. The farm people start the search for Lennie in order to punish him for the murder committed by him. He runs away, no one understands his mental state and instead of giving him the benefit of doubt the people are on the look for him in order to punish him. George feels real setback at this point and while looking for his friend he thinks of how to save him from being punished. George finds Lennie before the farmyard people and then realizes that his friend who is like his real brother will not be able to face the world after what he mistakenly did. Therefore, the story reaches climax when George decides to kill Lennie in order to save him from the harsh realities of the world. He shoots him in the back of his head and Lennie dies as a result of the bullet. This was George’s way of protecting his little brother. This act by George shows the harsh treatment of people towards the worker class and the mental illnesses. George felt helpless and all he could do to protect is brother was to eventually kill him. The pure violation of human rights can be seen when the farmyard people instead of understanding the mental state of Lennie just wanted to punish him for his act.
The award-winning writer has captivated the essence of emotionalism with a beautiful depiction of the helplessness of the workers in the lower income groups in the United State. This story is a beautiful mixture of different aspects of our social lives. It magnificently discusses the emotional effects of mental illness, the dream that every worker in the United States holds and the outside interventions and lastly the murder. The innocent being guilty is the heart touching element of the storyline making it sentimental and soul searching.
Steinbeck, J. Of Mice and Men. London: Penguin Books Limited, 1937. Print.