My first introduction to Steinbeck was Of Mice and Men. And I still love it. The tender story of two grown men, one taking care of the other, for no real obvious reason. Talk about friendship. George cared for Lennie. And Lennie, with his great big heart, cared too much and knew too little.
Of Mice and Men touches my heart in such a special way. I can't help but love Lennie. I can't help but wonder if I could be as strong as George, if I could care that much. At the same time, I feel so bad for both of them. Such a hard situation to be in. All they really wanted was their own farm, all to themselves. They wanted to mind their own business and live their own lives, and they just couldn't.
If you're familiar with Steinbeck's life, you'll know he had a terrible relationship with his first wife. I wonder if that impacted how Steinbeck wrote the character of the woman in Of Mice and Men and why he made her so evil, almost made her the antagonist.
Of Mice and Men also brings up the important question of how to treat those with handicaps. Do we pretend they're not different? Do we admit they're different? Do we protect them from others? I don't know. Would being upfront about Lennie and his needs have given the book a different ending? Maybe. Maybe it would have been the same.
I absolutely love Of Mice and Men, and it's so great because it's enjoyable on so many levels. It's rated about a 5th grade reading level with the Accelerated Reader Program, so younger readers can enjoy it too. It's one of my highest rated novels, and I highly recommend it!