Continuing my American Literature binge, I recently finished another Steinbeck novel. I say novel, but the style that Steinbeck adopted in Of Mice and Men makes it hard to assert that the work can be classified as a novel at all.
Not only is the work’s length and narrative range more akin to a piece of theatre, but the few descriptive passages that are present can easily be compared to the sort of descriptions one might find in stage directions.
Unlike in The Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck does not provide a broader cultural backdrop against which his protagonists (George and Lennie) can be observed. The narrative eye is focused on the characters themselves and the space that they occupy.
This allows the author to concentrate more fully on the characters; the hopes and dreams they refer to being one of the only ways the reader can glean any sense of context.
However, like in The Grapes of Wrath, the reader is provided with an apparently objective perspective on events. It is interesting to note how brilliantly Steinbeck portrays Lennie and George’s tender relationship through the use of such an objective style.
The book really explores the enormous importance of company and human friendship during times of hardship, a theme which appears to have been of great interest to the author. The understated love of one’s fellow man and the lengths to which one is willing to go for that love appears to be the central theme of this tragic tale.