Special thanks to Laura for reporting a little mistake ;)
Today I am going to tell you about the third meeting of The Brno Book Club in May 2015 (sorry for the delay). This time we read and discussed Of mice and men by John Steinbeck. Please be aware of the spoilers.
Firstly, I would like to mention that the meeting was a wonderful evening in a different place and with old and new members ;). Yes, the club is growing :D.
Secondly, each one of us had a very different idea from the book and that’s why I really enjoyed the meeting.
So let´s start. As always the administrator was guiding the discussion with her questions.
- General impression of the book
All the members that attended the meeting had different impression of the book but, in general, everybody liked the book. Some of them found the book sad and not optimistic. For others it was simple and the only good part was the end. Somebody also mentioned that the book was not deep enough because we don’t get to know the characters. However, for me the book was a little bit sad but full of hope as the characters were dreaming about a better life during such a difficult period in the history.
Somebody highlighted the way Steinbeck wrote this book. It looks like a play because every chapter is taking place in a specific scene and because of the presence of short descriptions and a lot of dialogs.
- Characters: George
This character brought different opinions from the members. Some members thought he was sympathetic and focused in the aim of earning money and buying a land with Lennie. They also thought that this character was admirable and that he was taking care of Lennie in an altruist way. Other felt like George was kind of a parent because he was looking for a safe environment for Lennie as a long term place to stay.
However, for others George was constantly changing between believing and not believing in their dream. For others, George was a barking dog never bites: he was talking and talking but not doing anything to achieve his dream.
- Characters: Lennie
The book doesn’t say which illness Lennie suffers but some of the members tried to guess: down syndrome or even schizophrenia because of the hallucinations at the end of the story. We all agreed that it was unusual to find a person like this so old (we guessed he was around 40 years old) during this particular period of the history.
Regarding his nature, a member described him as a bomb, but with good heart. Lennie was not aware of his strength and that caused him some problems. If he was dangerous, it was just a reaction of fear.
- Other characters
We all mentioned Crooks, the African American worker, as he caught our attention because of the way he lived and the way was treated by the other workers.
Regarding the rest of the characters, we mentioned that they looked quite simple as we cannot get to know them properly. Only Slim looked more developed that the others, trying to be the peacemaker of the group.
- The end
We all saw the similarity between the death of Lennie and the death of the dog. According to some members, that was the only way to do it because George didn’t want him to suffer more.
- Social life of the period
In the book we can see how was the life of a worker during the Great Depression, working hard, spending the time with your colleagues and spending our money and your nights in a pub.
We also can see how disabled people, African American people and women were treated during this period. Specially women, reflected by Curley’s wife and whose name is not mentioned in the book. We can see how this woman struggles to get a little of attention and conversation by the rest of the workers.
One of the members mentioned that the book was proposed to be censored in the USA. We highlighted how brave the author was to write a novel where you can see and openly read about the taboos of the period: disabled people, African American people, women and prostitutes. That’s why we think it shouldn’t be censored as it is a clear reflection of the reality of that period.
And that’s all regarding Of mice and men. We strongly recommend this book, especially if you are studying the Great Depression. Please let us know what you think about the book if you already read it. Do not hesitate to recommend us another book of this author or another book about his period of the history; we are open to any suggestion.
Next meeting was about A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin. You will have the post about it soon, so stay tuned for more posts about our wonderful book club ;).
Header image: thanks to Wikipedia. First edition of the book.