Of Mice and Men

Title: Of Mice and Men

Author: John Steinbeck

Genre: Novella

Publication Date: 1937

Overview

Of Mice and Men Literary Guide

Published in 1937, Of Mice and Men is one of John Steinbeck’s most widely read novels, largely due to its regular inclusion in the high school curriculum. The events of this novella take place in California during the Great Depression. The story of the clever George Milton and the lumbering giant Lennie Small was an instant success, which later assumed a canonical position in American literature. Steinbeck drew his inspiration for this book from his experience living and working as a “bindlestiff”—or a wandering farmhand—during the 1920s. It was during this time he realized the hardships faced by migrant workers and what it truly means to be a man, to have a dream. In an interview later, Steinbeck had mentioned meeting a mentally impaired man in one of his travels who was prone to fits of anger. The central question of this work is how such a man can fit into society, and the rest of the characters are developed according to their relationship with Lennie Small.

The Depression was the consequence of the recession that started after World War I. And then in 1929, the stock market crashed. Many farmers at this time lost their properties due to foreclosures. The quality of soil had also deteriorated during this time, leading to the land being unfruitful. These factors forced many workers to migrate to other states. A large proportion of migrant workers hailed from Oklahoma; hence, they were nicknamed “Okies.” Of Mice and Men portrays the experience of poverty among these wandering migrant agricultural workers in California, their challenges, and their quest for survival. Though the book has a simple structure, it is a landmark work on human emotions, dealing with ambition, loneliness, human dignity, and sacrifice.

Of Mice and Men Biography

Of Mice and Men Background

Of Mice and Men Characters

Of Mice and Men Summary and Analysis

Of Mice and Men Themes

Of Mice and Men Quotes

Of Mice and Men Discussion Questions

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