A couple of years ago I took a road trip through America, we enjoyed a stop near the end in Monterey. It was the perfect holiday town with sunshine, beaches, and loads of seals. There were people cycling, jogging and scuba diving, and lots of souvenir shops. Monterey’s cannery row was the location of the sardine canning industry and the signs of the old factories still remained. Cannery Row was also the setting of John Steinbeck’s novel of the same name.
Anyway, that was a long preamble to a review of a different book by Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men. It’s another classic, and its short- perfect! George and Lennie are drifters, working at ranches and in the fields and dreaming of owning their own place.
Everybody wants a little bit of land, not much. Jus’ som’thin’ that was his. Somethin’ he could live in and there couldn’t nobody throw him off of it.
Of course the title refers to the Robert Burns poem, To A Mouse.
The best laid scheme o’ mice an’ men
Gand aft agley
That means the best laid plans of mice and men often go wrong.
And when they arrive at their new ranch George is concerned that Curley, the boss’s aggressive son and his neglected and flirty wife spell trouble. Especially, when introduced to Lennie, big and strong, he’s also has learning difficulties and doesn’t understand his own strength. It all becomes an inevitable recipe for disaster, and their long held plans shown up as pie in the sky.
It’s such a short book that it all seems to kick off quite quickly and suddenly. By the end of the book it was hard to fully understand how we had got there, but the more I thought about it it all seemed destined to happen from the beginning.
I’m not sure I like that feeling. It’s a sad book. I’m glad I read it though.