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Of Mice and Men
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this classic short novel, often required reading in middle school or high school, is one of the most affecting portraits of America during the Great Depression. It offers a glimpse of men attempting to hold onto their dreams of a better life when the odds of their success are miniscule. You may want to check out the 1992 film version on DVD, as well.
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What's the story?
George and Lennie are two itinerant ranch hands who arrive in California's Salinas Valley during the Great Depression, after being run off from their last assignment up north. Lennie possesses great physical strength but has the intellectual capacity of a child. George is the more calculating of the pair, but even he gets caught up in Lennie's dreams of owning a farm. As they find work and try to build a stake that will bring them closer to their dream, George and Lennie discover how easily Fate can upset their best-laid plans.
Is it any good?
OF MICE AND MEN is justifiably considered a classic of American literature: a short, direct meditation on friendship, loneliness, and unfulfilled dreams in trying times. Its plot and prose are straightforward and unadorned, but the impact of the final chapters is unforgettable. Lennie and George are iconic characters, and Steinbeck's presentation of their interactions with the hands at the Salinas ranch is pitch-perfect.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the values of friendship and loyalty and how they can be tested in times of economic hardship.
As a child, Lennie suffered some kind brain injury that impeded his intellectual development. How has society's treatment of the mentally disabled changed over the decades?
Lennie and George dream of owning a farm of their own, one where Lennie can take care of the rabbits. What kinds of dreams of the future do people have today? What are some of the obstacles they might encounter in trying to achieve them?
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