It’s very rare that I find a book that I actively dislike, but Steinbeck’s Of Mice & Men made the list. It was assigned reading in my freshman English class.

I should probably go back and re-read this one, because when I first read it, I was still hypersensitive to profanity (having just come out of a very protected environment for the first time). So, the constant cursing and crude language used by the men in the story was grating and made it hard for me to sympathize with or respect any of them.

The only character I really liked was Lennie (probably because he cursed the least and was kind). I felt bad for him because he was slow and was glad that he had a friend who could protect him in Greorge (though I didn’t really like George himself  – I found him to be too hard and cynical).

The scene where Lennie accidentally kills a puppy upset me for multiple reasons – first, I felt so horrible for Lennie because I knew he did it accidentally. Second, I didn’t understand the point of writing that scene; it just seemed needlessly cruel. I know now that it foreshadowed the accidental murder of Curly’s Wife, but it still troubled me at the time.

Finally, in the end, when George shoots Lennie in the back of the head, I threw the book across the couch. I know it was a poignant scene that shows the depths of George’s love for his friend, but I was so frustrated with everyone in that novel by that point that I just looked at it as one more horrible thing.

My overall impression of Of Mice & Men is that it’s a depressing slog full of desperate and unkind people only out for themselves. I know that it’s supposed to show the depths that people will sink to in order to survive, especially in that era, but the absolute lack of hope really ate at my fourteen year-old mind.

In this case, I think immaturity and naivete colored my reading of this book. Maybe now that I’m older and have been exposed to similar literature and more history, I’d get more out of the story than needless, endless suffering. Maybe.

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