Of Mice and Men is a great classic with a sure fire twist of an ending that you the reader will most likely not see coming. It is the beautifully told story of Lenny and George, two friends that are forced to travel the countryside looking for jobs. Lenny is a big man who has always has someone to take care of him, first his Aunt Clara and now George. Lenny needs looking after by George, because he is low functioning. Some would say he is mentally retarded but it is never fully explained in the book. At one point Lenny explains to the owner of the ranch that Lenny was kicked in the head but he recants that story later when Lenny questions him about it. We do know that Lenny likes to pet small animals to the point that they end up dead and this is one reason George is always telling Lenny to let him do the talking. I believe that the petting of the small pets is a mechanism to clam Lenny down and that he gets so into it that he kills the animal he is petting without even realizing how much force he has used. It is stated over and over how gentle (even though he is a big guy) Lenny is and how he would never purposely hurt anyone.
George and Lenny’s relationship is a paradox. George is forever telling Lenny how much better his life would be if he didn’t have to be responsible for Lenny. George talks about how he could have a girlfriend and a steady job if he hadn’t promised Lenny’s aunt that he would look after Lenny. However, when Lenny protests and states that he will just leave so George can do all of these things, George always recants and then tells Lenny’s favorite story about “the rabbits.” This story is important because it shows why George stays with Lenny and ultimately why he does what he does in the end. In the story of “the rabbits” George talks about how they are different from other guys because they look out for each other.
How the two of them are going to save their money and get a house where they have rabbits in the backyard for Lenny to look after. Lenny loves this story because he wants a chance to play with the rabbits (and hopefully not kill them in the process).
George and Lenny get a job on a ranch where as long as George does all of the talking they are okay. But, eventually everyone that works at this site figures out that Lenny has problems and they have their eye on him. When the bosses daughter-n-law Candy ends up dead they all blame Lenny and go looking for him hoping to even the score. George hopes that they will turn him over to the authorities when they find him but when they find out that is not what is planned he goes looking for Lenny himself. The climax of this book is what makes it a classic and why it is taught year after year in high schools. The question on everyone’s mind when finished with this book is why George did what he did. Was it for selfish reasons or was he continuing to look out for the best interest of Lenny?
One of the themes of this book is classic of books written in that time frame, the pursuit of the American Dream. The American Dream for Lenny and George is to own their own property and not have to work for anyone else again. Like most books, the main characters do not achieve the American Dream.