Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
George Mitton (witty, small) and Lennie Small (big man with small brain) both dreamed of acquiring a little land of their own someday. They also were in need of each other. This was in the middle of the depression years among many poor migrant workers searched for work. As low social class they got no respect in the society. Steinbeck showed his sympathy and concern for the down trodden the way we are concerned with homeless and jobless today.
Paired with both accusations and past accidents these two went to work at a Ranch. It was there the readers were introduced to some interesting characters, all seemed to evolve around rancher's son Curley. Curley is the bully, always ready to pick on those weaker people, but was an insured failure in a big way. He failed to be a respected boss #2, husband, and a man. His wife (name never mentioned) knew what was missing in life. She tried to get Lannie's attention in taking her. It led to her accidental death. There in the barn among the dark, dank smell of hay the one event after another began to unravel.
The end of the novel was worth contemplation and debate. Lennie Small hid in the brush and awaited his frightful punishment. George Mitton had to make a decision; he took matters into his own hands by ending Small's life. The tragic ending could have been averted. Some writers sometimes believe the ending of a novel to provide vicarious happy endings especially targeted for youth. Steinbeck ended it as a tragedy.
Could in the novel George Mitton run away in the novel from the crime scene with the woman? Would George have waited for justice to be meted out by a bunch of gun carrying migrant workers who were ready to shoot Lennie? To some readers true literary tragedy is distasteful. This may be one of the reasons that the novel was challenged by many parents if not banned?
I thought Steinbeck experimented with novel structured like a play. He believed the writer's duty and served as watchdog of society. To satirize its silliness, to attack its injustices, to stigmatize its faults. He achieved this goal remarkably well in this novel. In fact the book was in the form of a play (1937) and ended as an opera (1970).
In retrospect, throughout the novel there were words or vernaculars of improper conduct, vulgar language, presentation of low social class characters which can be objectionable to YA or their parents. I list some examples found from the six chapters including but not limited to:
1.Live off the fatta the lan', 2. Bustin' a gut, 3. Cat house, 4. Health issues like pants rabbits, 5. Shove out of here, 6. What the hell's he got on his shoulder, 7. Crack and flop, 8. Goo-goos.
The urge to control other's lives and restrict what they can read appears to be just below the surface. People may deny that they want to censor books and mouth platitudes about appropriate reading material, but the end results are challenges to books in schools and libraries.