Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Reflections: Of Mice and Men

Well known as America's beloved classic, this book tells a short and heart-wrenching tale involving the labor class of the 1930s. Two young men lead a nomadic and oppressed life working in ranches, whilst dreaming about an ideal future where they would one day save enough money to own a farm and grow rabbits. Why did they specifically dream about rabbits and tending to them? Well, one of the men is as sweet and innocent as a child that all his life he craves for nothing more than petting anything soft and furry - be they rabbits, puppies or even mice. But the unfortunate goon has the strength of an ox, so anything onto which he showers his affectionate cuddle, ends up dying. Well aware of his ogre-like friend's misgivings, the other man plays the role of a brother, shielding him, loving him and loyally hops from one job to the other, to run away from the clumsy accidents that his friend commits at every work site. The men walk together through life, until fate plays her trick.

Steinbeck artfully brings out the callousness, loneliness, desperation and bleak hope of the poverty stricken labor class. His writing is poetically gorgeous during narration and down to earth colloquial during the dialogues. The colloquial farm-dialect added an extra layer of unique personality to each of the characters. However, since I'm not too fond of American slang, I had to labor through the dialogues.

The childlike, naive, bumbling oaf reaches to your heart instantly and lodges himself as an indelible character. The tragic ending left me on the verge of tears. The book is a sketch on the strength of friendships.

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