Review: Of Mice and Men

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Of Mice and Men is not a typical book I would pick up when I’m shopping in Waterstones, Foyles or Daunt Books. I had to read it (as I think most people did), for my English course and at first, I didn’t really like it. I didn’t like the time period it was set in. Around the time of the Wall Street Crash and the Great Depression.

But the more times I went over it and read it, the more I realised that it’s actually a really good book. I wouldn’t say I loved it, but I did ultimately enjoy it. I particularly grew attached to the characters of Lenny and Crooks. Both were oppressed, Crooks racially and Lenny by Curley, who feels intimidated by Lenny’s overbearing stature.

Steinbeck creates a good contrast of characters on the ranch. Curley’s wife for example, is coloured using symbolism and an abundance of clichés. She’s drenched in the colour red for example, clearly signifying how in tune she is with her female sexuality and charm. Yet, we later discover that underneath this, she is just a vulnerable woman, who was promised a glamorous life as a movie star and was young and naive enough to believe that this would happen.

One thing all the characters have in common, is their strive to achieve the American Dream, which is a very dominant theme in the novella. Steinbeck emphasises dreams in the novel. We know that George and Lenny dream of having their own place one day, with an alfalfa patch and rabbits that Lenny can tend to. But these dreams aren’t achievable, because the characters on the ranch also share the theme of powerlessness – socially, they have no status; economically, they have no money and intellectually; they lack the means to be successful.

This novella’s ending is debatable. Some may view the ending as an escape, which in some ways I do. But on the other hand, I think the ending was also quite melancholic. However, I would definitely recommend this book to others to read. It’s short so it doesn’t take very long to read, but it’s packed with all kinds of imagery, symbolism and themes to keep you interested.


Steinbeck’s writing here is done well. The characters’ speech reflects their economic, social and intellectual status and everything is well described. There is clear direction with each of the characters and symbolism is used well to advance the story. For example, the colour red, the constant return to mention of the American Dream, the shooting of the dog etc.

Reviewed by: Tanya Marie

View all my reviews

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