Fifth Form Book Club Review: Of Mice and Men

  • Post Category:English

Set during the Great Depression in 1930s America, this former GCSE set-text follows two friends, Lenny and George, as they move to work on a new ranch after Lenny is falsely accused of rape in their previous place of work. Lenny is a fun, gentle character with a love for anything soft, while George is a much more cynical character who, in many ways, is harder to like. However, George is wildly protective of Lenny, who has an unspecified neurodivergence that means he often misjudges situations and struggles with understanding personal space. George does not have the physical stature of Lenny, however, he is intelligent and sharp; this makes the two of them quite an enjoyable duo. It is heart-warming to see Lenny help support George at work, often unknowingly, and George using his wit to protect Lenny from invasive questions and disrespect from other characters.

The ranch that George and Lenny come to work at represents the American working class and the different hopes, dreams, and beliefs of these workers as a result of the Great Depression. This is not the only metaphor in the book though, there are plenty of carefully-woven in metaphors and foreshadowing to spot along the way. Lenny and George hope to one day own a ranch of their own, including rabbits, upon Lenny’s particular request. This shared hope is what really brings them together, but also makes the book feel relatable and helps it to still resonate today, even with very little knowledge of the Great Depression or 1930s America.

It is, however, well worth understanding a bit of the context of American attitudes during this time, particularly in relation to travelling workers and people with any form of neurodivergence, as this will help you to empathise with the characters and their actions. At times Of Mice and Men can be a difficult read, it is a very powerful criticism of the racism, sexism, and ableism many faced during Depression-era America, but it also contains scenes that will have you giggling along and tender, gentle moments to warm your heart.

By Annabelle (UV – Year 11)