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Why did Steinbeck call his Novel 'Of Mice And Men'?

Paper type: Essay
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‘The best laid plans o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley an’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain, for promised joy’

John Steinbeck was born in Salinas, California in 1902. His family owned some land but were not rich. Throughout his life he worked to get him through university and really did work on a ranch near King City in the Salinas Valley. ‘Of Mice And Men’ was published in 1937; it was later on recreated as a film.

The quote above is from ‘To A Mouse’ by Robert Burns written over 200 years ago.

He was born in 1759 and died in 1796, which made him only 37. In the story ‘To A Mouse’ by the Scottish poet, Robert Burns, was about how a mouse built a little but grand house of twigs and leaves for the winter, as the days got closer for the mouse to live in its newly made house, it was destroyed described as a great big machine. The quote tells us that, the best plans that mice and men have can go wrong and leave s with nothing but grief and pain.

The last line of the quote means ‘often go wrong’ the grief and pain the mouse feels by its house being destroyed and leaving him in the cold, this pity was pushed on to George and Lennie about there dream going wrong by Steinbeck. As George and Lennie have more or less the same pain and grief that the little mouse had, so close to own their own little piece of land, but it all goes wrong. John Steinbeck after reading ‘To A Mouse’ names his novel ‘Of Mice And Men’.

At the same time of Steinbeck, everyone is thinking about their own land, and how to retire and live in their own homes with their land, The American Dream. But things don’t go how they planned for them to, and The Great Wall Street Crash occurred on October 4th 1929, this was when the people had gone bankrupt and everyone’s life savings were wiped away, many peoples dreams were shattered to pieces right in front of them. America went in to shock. Jobs were lost which caused even more problems, soon after The Great Wall Street Crash people started to migrate in to the countryside of California for jobs and a second chance to build back what they had lost.

A bit later in the 1930’s, The Dust Ball also occurred in Texas, this was a large amount of dust was lifted off the ground and placed on another part of the land, ruining all soil causing problems once again for people, especially farmers with poor soil, meant no crops. This got so bad that people’s homes were covered in thick layers of soil, dust and sand, farmers were blamed due to poor farming, and bad weather was also to blame. Once again families had to leave, again to California, but California already had enough employees and no space or people to live as people were living in shanties, homes made out of hay and other things.

In ‘Of Mice And Men’, the men working on the ranch do not have anybody, they travel on their own and have no loved ones with them, neither do they have any family with them. In the novel the workers from the ranch once they are paid, don’t save their money, but they spend their fifty dollars on prostitutes in a whorehouse, except for George and Lennie. By the men going out every week and spend a night with a prostitute this shows that these men are lonely, and do not have anything else to do.

George and Lennies dream was to have their own land, and their own little farm, The American Dream. George at times can be a very serious person he is always careful to who he speaks to and is very caring to Lennie. Compared to Lennie he is a small man but he still manages to push Lennie around, whereas Lennie is always thinking happy thoughts except when George threatens him, that if he continues to do wrong things, he will not be able to tend the rabbits. When Candy the swapper over hears George telling Lennie what it is going to be like when they accomplish their dream, and get their home, he wants to join in with them, as like everybody else he also has a dream, The American Dream. George thinks about this and realises with Candy’s money and help they could get the house much quicker. Soon after George, Lennie and Candy all agree that they will get the house in about a month’s time.

But things go wrong and George has to kill Lennie for his own and Lennies good. This is were we can refer back to ‘To A Mouse’ as the mouse plans how he will live in the winter in its nice, warm cosy house, but something goes wrong and a machine tears it up. In this case Lennie is the something that goes wrong and George is the machine, as Lennie kills Curly’s Wife by accident and Lennie and George have to go on the run, but when George finds Lennie he kills him, even though George and Lennie had been very good and close friends he still killed him but not for him being bad, but for his own good to stop him doing something even worse.

Lennie has exactly the same dream as George, he wants his own land, but with rabbits. Lennie is like a child trapped in a mans body, he is very childish at times and doesn’t know his own strength. He loves stroking soft things, whether it be a cuddly toy, clothes, hair or animals dead or alive.

I am also going to write about Crooks, Crooks is disabled as he had been kicked in the back by a horse and has a crooked back, this is were he probably gets his nickname from. Crooks also works on the ranch he is the stable buck; and has less respect than all the other men on the ranch. He has no right and is never really talked to, all because he is black, because of the colour of his skin. Unlike the other men he lives in a barn on his own, his is because he is lower than the other men, and no one really talks to him. Out of all the men working on the ranch Crooks is the only black man. Even though nobody likes to talk to Crooks he is has better things to do at the end of the week, instead of going out and spending a night with a prostitute at a whorehouse he reads books.

This can tell us that he is lonely and has no friends, the books are the closest thing he can get to close to talking to someone. When the men are out at the whorehouse Lennie stays back at the ranch and comes into Crooks barn and starts talking to him, Crooks tries to tell him to go but Lennie does not leave. Lennie lets out the secret to Crooks that him, George and Candy are going to get their own land and Crooks gets interested. A bit later George and the other men arrive, Crooks wants to join in with them, when Curly’s Wife enters the barn looking for Curly, Crooks now has now got a bit of courage and stands up to Curly’s Wife, but she puts him back down when she threatens him that she can get him hung on to the nearest branch, he then tell George and Lennie he was just joking about him wanting to come in with them to get their land.

Candy is also one of the characters I will be talking about, Candy is also disabled, as he has lost his hand in one of the machines, he is the oldest worker on the ranch, and is a swapper, due to losing his hand Candy was allowed to carry on working at the ranch after losing his hand and was given compensation. Candy from the other men is different; unlike them he is not lonely he has a friend, his dog. The other men are jealous of this and can’t take the fact that Candy is not lonely, so they try to take away his dog and they succeed. After the dog had been shot Candy feels that he should have shot his dog himself.

‘I oughttoof shot that dog myself, George. I shouldn’t ought to of let no stranger shout my dog’

The most important and last person that I am going to talk about is Curley’s Wife, Curley’s Wife is also lonely. She does not like her husband Curly. She has no real name as once she was married to Curley she had become his property. Curley’s Wife tells Lennie that she was really going to be a Hollywood actress, but her mother hid the letters she waited for to arrive, but she really had been used. She ended up marring Curly because she was angry and annoyed at her mother. This is why she married Curley because she was lonely and needed someone there. Curley’s Wife is a flirty type that is always flirting with every man that she sees, this is probably because se had no real friends and wants to make friends, everybody is afraid to talk to her because she is the wife of Curly there bosses son.

These five characters I have written about are all looking for more or less the same dream, The American Dream. George, Lennie, Crooks and Candy all wanted to have there own land and maybe farm whereas Curly’s Wife wanted to be an actress and have some real friends and a better husband. Many of the workers on the ranch are all lonely, even if they weren’t they were made lonely by people taking away the one thing they had. A friend. I think that Crooks was the loneliest man on the ranch out of all the workers. But after Lennies death you could say that George was the loneliest of them all.

Cite this page

Why did Steinbeck call his Novel ‘Of Mice And Men’?. (2017, Oct 27). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/why-did-steinbeck-call-his-novel-of-mice-and-men-essay

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