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Of Mice and Men

The book that I have read that has really stayed with me is "Of Mice and Men" by John Steinbeck. I really enjoyed reading it which is unusual because I usually don't enjoy reading too much. There was something about George and Lennie's friendship that really made me think. Seeing how they were and how they shared life was really interesting. George didn't have to bother with Lennie, he could have abandoned him and gone on his own way. But he did not do that, he stayed with Lennie watching over him almost like a parent to a child. Even though Lennie always got George in trouble, George never stopped loving him and always stood by him. The friendship they shared went beyond what was not really there they each shared a dream and both knew they meant the world to each other. I felt that if these totally different people could get along and look out for each other, why can't we get along with people who are different than us. They made me realize that I could learn something from them on how to treat people who are different than me. What I also liked about it was the way they never stopped trying to reach their dream. This made me think that if they could work hard for their dream why can't I ?! It showed me that it does not matter where you come from or what you do, it is okay to dream and work as hard as you can to reach it. For all it shows for friendship and loyalty it also shows how sometimes you have to do things you never thought you would do. For example in the end when George is forced to shoot Lennie in the head you would never have thought he would do that, but you can see that under the circumstances he had no other choice. He only had two choices: let the other people get to him first and watch them torture Lennie while he died a long horrible death or do it himself and get it over quickly where Lennie did not know what hit him. This is also true in life, many times we are faced with tough choices and even though they may be the hardest you will have to go through, you know that that is the only way. You come to the realization that everything you thought you were about, can all change with a blink of the eye.

Each and every morning when I wake up, I roll out of bed, attempt to do my hair perfectly, and then put on my uniform. Now,for some people this may be a fairly easy decision, but for others, it's a painstaking, mind-boggling,headache-causing thing that they are forced to go through every day of their existence. Unlucky for me, I happen to be the latter. But there are so many decisions that need to be made by each one of us every day, and some are harder than others. Like the decision whether to kill your best-friend or to let somebody else do it. It may sound absurd, but that's the decision George is forced to make in the end of "Of Mice and Men" . At the end of the book when Lennie is being searched for, there are three choices George had. He could run away with Lennie, not do anything and let the others kill Lennie, or kill Lennie himself. He chose to kill his best-friend, Lennie, himself and he made the right decision. If George had told Lennie that they were going to run away when they met down in the brush, they might've had a small chance of survival. But this chance was made almost non-existent by the fact that they were being chased by dogs and a bunch of angry men with shot guns. They never would've made it. What most likely would've happened would be that both Lennie and George would've gotten shot because it would've looked like they were running because they both helped to kill Curley's wife. There were no ties between Curley and anyone on the ranch, especially these two, so nothing would've stopped him from putting a bullet in both of their heads. George obviously didn't want to die, so he couldn't choose to run. He just would've wound up dead too. George also could've stayed at the ranch with Candy and done nothing, or just followed the rest of the guys looking for Lennie. He knew what was going to happen, and he knew it from the moment he saw Curley's wife's body lying dead in the barn. It was clear to him that there was no way Lennie could make it out of this one alive. But George also knew that he couldn't live with himself if he let the man he was responsible for be killed by Curley out of revenge. Lennie didn't know what he was doing and it wasn't fair that he should be killed out of hate. George had learned a lot from Candy when he said, "I ought to of shot that dog myself, George. I shouldn't ought to of let no stranger shoot my dog." Candy had taught him that if Lennie's death was inevitable, it might as well be done by someone who knows the him and cares about him. Lennie had to be killed out of love. That revelation was the driving force that led George to kill his best friend in the world. This was probably the hardest decision George ever had to make, and after he made it, he had even a harder time carrying it out. "And George raised the gun and steadied it, and he brought the muzzle of it close to the back of Lennie's head. The hand shook violently, but his face set and his hand steadied. He pulled the trigger.......George shivered and looked at the gun, and then he threw it from him, back up on the bank, near the pile of old ashes." Even though this was a difficult, heart-wrenching thing for him to do, he knew he had done nothing wrong. It was the only way the 'problem' that Lennie had with hurting people could be resolved with no loose ends and no guilty consciences. George may have been sad about it, but he had done the right thing. To many people, the ending of this book may seem sad and kinda screwed up, and they wish the book had a 'happy' ending. But Lennie ending up dead was the only way that the book could end believably and happily. It was a much "happier" ending then George and Lennie ending up in their little ranch, because that wouldn't have been believable. Lennie had always gotten himself into trouble before and that wouldn't have changed just because they owned their own house. He would've screwed it up somehow. George killing Lennie may have been sad, but it was also believable and right. If you had to make a decision, would you rather have a 'happy' ending, or one you could really understand that would keep you thinking?

In "Of Mice And Men", by John Steinbeck,the social power group is the white, male workers on the farm. They are younger men, still useful, sort of intelligent, and average-sized. They exclude people who do not fit their norm, such as Curley for being short, Lennie for being retarded, Candy for being old, Crooks for being black, and Curley's wife for being a woman. Between themselves, they expect strength, distance and independence, and are uncomfortable with emotions. This intolerance and isolation cause loneliness for all the characters in this novel. This social power group oppresses and isolates Curley, Lennie and Candy because they are different, even though they are white. Lennie is very strong and big but his mind is like a child's, so the men don't respect him as an equal. For example, George explains to Slim that he, "Used to play jokes on [Lennie] cause he was too dumb to take care of 'imself" Lennie does not take part in the activities the workers do in their spare time. Lennie does not go to town with the men. In Weed, Lennie gets in trouble because the people don't understand his problem. They react with anger instead of understanding. George explains to Slim, "Cause he ain't mean....like what happened in Weed-" Candy is afraid that he will have nowhere to go soon because he is old: "I won't have no place to go, an' I can't get no jobs." Candy knows that society doesn't value or care about people who can't work. Society rejects them because they are no longer useful. Carlson shows this when he says about Candy's dog, " He ain't no good to you, Candy. An' he ain't no good himself. Why'n't you shoot him, Candy? Candy knows he is like his dog; an old man is almost useless. He knows how they will discard them. He's no longer useful: "They says he wasn't no good to himself nor nobody else. When they came here I wish't somebody shoot me." Curley feels excluded from society because he is too short. He hates big men because big men automatically get into the social & powerful group. Candy comments to George that "Curley's like a lot of little guys. He hates big guys. He's all the time picking scraps with big guys. Kind of like he's mad at them because he ain't a big guy" Curley shows this about himself when he is upset and angry when he meets Lennie for the first time. Curley shows his extreme insecurity in the bunkhouse as Slim and Carlson are not afraid of him. Curley is afraid losing his power of intimidation. He notices that Lennie is weak and afraid, and turns his anger on Lennie. The reader sees Curley is insecure because Curley continues to attack Lennie even though Lennie doesn't even protect himself or fight back. Each man is rejected by the norm, and is lonely. Black men are not the only people who are victims of intolerance and the loneliness it causes. The social power group oppresses Crooks because he is black. The boss gets angry at Crooks anytime the boss is upset. Candy explains, " The boss gives him hell when he's mad." Only at Christmas Crooks is allowed into the bunkhouse. When he is, Smitty starts a fight with him, even though Crooks is crippled. Crooks knows he is not important in society because he is black. He explains this to Lennie by calling himself a negro. Crooks promises if he had a chance to work for something, he would, such as sharing the little farm with George, Lennie, and Candy: " I ain't so cripped I can't work like a dog if I want to" Crooks remembers how little power he has when Curley's wife warns him,"Well, you keep your place then, Negro. I could get you strung up on a tree so easy it ain't even funny" As a black man, Crooks has no chance against the social power group. The white men would kill Crooks because he is black. The reader sees this as, "Crooks had reduced himself to nothing" Because the white people require Crooks to stay in his own group, he is lonely. Women are also victims of intolerance and loneliness. Curley's wife dreamed of being a movie star, but the man who promised he would help her never wrote to her . As a woman, during the depression, she has no choice but to marry someone who can support her. Society gives jobs and independence to men, and women have no power. She is on the bottom of society. Her marriage to Curley is a disaster because he only cares about himself. He isn't interested in her at all, "Swell guy, ain't he? Spends all his time saying what he's gonna do to guys he don't like, and he don't like nobody" Curley's wife understands that all men think she is an object. She uses her beauty to attract men so they will talk to her: "She put her hands behind her back and leaned against the door frame so that her body was thrown forward" Curley's wife needs friends and people to talk to. She tries to find friends, but everyone turns her away. Curley is jealous and treats he like a possession to be guarded, but his wife is frustrated: "'What's the matter with me?' she cried. 'Ain't I got right to talk to nobody?'" Curley's wife is isolated because she is the only woman on the farm, and is kept out of the social power group, so she is terribly lonely. Even the normal white workers on the farm are lonely because they isolate themselves from each other. Slim explains that all the men are afraid to show their feelings and be close to others: "Ain't many guys travel around together. I don't know why. Maybe ever'body in the whole darn world is scared of each other". Slim describes how the workers choose to be lonely: "I hardly never seen two guys together. You know how the hands are, they just come in and get their bunk and work a month, and then they quit and go out alone. Never seem to give a darn about nobody" George and Lennie know that they are lonely like most workers: "Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world. They got no family. They don't belong no place .... they ain't got nothing to look ahead to" At the end of the novel, Carlson shows how men shut themselves off and hide their feelings, when he doesn't even know George is sad: "Now, what the heck you suppose is eatin' them two guys?" The white men in the society power group choose loneliness because they are afraid of showing their feelings and fears. Intolerance and fear exist everywhere in the world, which leads to loneliness in "Of Mice and Men". Loneliness has many causes. The workers fear showing their feelings to each other. They cast out people who are different or weak, such as Curley, Candy, Lennie, Crooks and Curley's wife. The author shows the reader that everyone causes loneliness in society. Maybe when people understand this about real life , they will be able to end loneliness.

Word Count: 2413

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