At 48 years of age, finally read Of Mice and Men on the recommendation of daughter L. In short, loved it. Like so many of the classics, it made me think, and did it in less than 100 pages.
The book follows giant but simple Lenny and small but cynical George, two drifters who have signed on to work on a farm. We learn that Lenny is a good person but has a long history of hurting things, and there is foreshadowing by the way he inadvertantly kills mice, how the two men are on the run after Lennie inappropriate touched and scared a woman, and how George tells Lennie where they’ll meet if anything bad happens.
We gradually meet the work men on the farm, all down-and-out and flawed men (and the new bride) in the early 20th century who are essentially alone and scared in the world, and cautious with each other. GEorge more or less befriends one of the men, and they plan to buy a farm together, with the three men living and working on the land. We also get a taste of foreshadowing when a beloved dog who was once a great sheep herder (just like Lennie is a great farm worker) but now too old to be of use is shot in the back of the head.
Later, Lennie — like he has done before — inadvertently kills the young bride of the boss’s pugnacious son and flees into the hills. The three men’s dream of owning a farm is now over, and George concludes that Lennie will always be a risk to people of the world. George finds him in their previously agreed upon hiding spot, and shoots Lennie in the back of the head, like the old dog earlier in the story.
It is a heartbreaking story that seems to capture friendship, pity, loneliness and the life of a poor working class American 100+ years ago. It is a story worth reading.