Dear John Steinbeck,
My Advanced English III class just finished reading Of Mice and Men. Supposedly, it is one of the greatest tear jerkers ever. A faulty title in my opinion. I didn’t cry at all, and typically I will cry when a main character in a book is killed. The plot idea for your book was interesting, it is rare to read stories about the incapable. However, I didn’t particularly enjoy reading Of Mice and Men.
Your two main characters, Lennie and George, were steadfast throughout the book. They didn’t change, learn life lessons, or develop further personality traits than what they began with. Although they began the story as well developed characters I thought there was plenty of room for them to expand within themselves. They had no favorite colors, no sense of trying new things, no new ideas besides their simplistic farm. They had no faith in what they could do. Lennie was dumb, strong, and liked soft things. George was moderately smart, constantly nettled, and loyal. That was it. Even if the book had to be a few pages longer, couldn’t they be expanded?
The plot, like the characters, was also simple. People have tried to tell me that something is always happening in the story, but the things that happen are pointless. It all builds up to what? Lennie is shot. Well, he didn’t really do anything but unknowingly molest girls and murder small creatures. Even Lennie’s death, the climax, was pointless. Lennie probably didn’t even understand what it meant to die, to never come back. The interaction of the characters within the plot never changed either. Lennie would try to smuggle a small animal like the mouse, or the puppy and George would tell him to put it back. Nothing ever changed. The other ranch hands liked and respected George enough not to make fun of Lennie. Lennie would get in trouble and they would run away. It was an endless cycle of miserable reading.
Your writing style perhaps might be the one thing I don’t rant about. The plot and characters may have showed little imagination but the story was not a pain to read. The language, inappropriate for high school, was appropriate for the characters. The descriptions were not overwhelming but were useful. For example, “Crooks scowled, but Lennie’s disarming smile defeated him.” would normally be overwhelming but it worked well surrounded by so much dialogue. Although the book was short, as most novella are, it ended precisely when I wasn’t sure if I would be able to take anymore of the nonsense. Your writing style is the one thing I cannot heavily disapprove of.
Overall, I cannot admit to enjoying any part of Of Mice and Men. However, I will congratulate you on publishing such a terrible piece of work, and having it reach the honor of a classic. I have sat in awe of how you did it. My class did not get the chance to discuss your book very much so I’m not sure if my sentiments are shared, but if they are perhaps you should stick to your tour guide job. Of Mice and Men has sparked my curiosity to read The Grapes of Wrath, so perhaps you will be hearing from me again.