John Steinbeck was born in
Salinas, California, in 1902.
He studied at Stanford University between 1919 and 1925, but left without taking a degree.
He supported himself as a labourer and journalist while at the same time writing his first novel.
Of Mice and Men was published in 1937 and is considered by many his finest work.
In 1962 Steinbeck won the
Nobel Prize in literature.
He died in 1968.
The Great Depression started in 1929 in America when the stock market crashed on, what was later called, the Black Thursday.
The severe worldwide economic depression lasted through the 30's and until the beginning of WWII.
The effect of the Great Depression in America was that many buisnesses declared bancruptcy and workers were laid of.
In 1933 unemployment peaked at 25%.
Poverty struck hard and many people lost their homes.
White middle class people were for the first time uproted and forced to seek work as day labourers and migrating workers.
Most of these workers were men who traveled from
town to town seeking short-term employment
Destitute man leans against vacant store
Down and out on New York pier
Florence Owen Thompson photographed by Dorothea Lange
George Milton and Lennie Small are two migrant field workers during the Great Depression. George is intelligent but uneducated and Lennie is strong but mentally disabled. They dream about settling down on their own piece of land and George tells Lennie he will tend to the rabbits, since Lennie loves petting soft animals.
They get hired at a farm and meets other workers there, such as Candy and Slim. The work is led by The Boss and his son Curley who immediately dislikes Lennie. Curleys wife is the only female on the farm and she is young and lonely.
Things are looking up for George and Lennie when Candy offers to pitch in money to buy a farm for the three of them to live on. But when Lennie gets in trouble everything changes.
Of Mice and Men is written in third person perspective in the same way as a playscript.
The narrative is described as from a camera and the reader never get inside the minds of the characters.
The book has previously been banned in America for allegedly "promoting euthanasia", "condoning racial slurs", being "anti-business", containing profanity, and generally containing "vulgar" and "offensive language". Many of the bans and restrictions have been lifted and it is now required reading in many high schools. As a result of being a frequent target of censors, Of Mice and Men appears on the ALA's list of the Most Challenged Books of the 21st Century