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John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men

Despite George's warnings, Lennie has a run-in with Curley and, eventually, accidentally kills the girl when he becomes frightened by her struggles. George recognizes that he cannot protect his friend from a lynching or a life in a mental hospital. Back at the riverbank where the story began, George distracts the big man by reciting Lennie's favorite bedtime story of the place that George now realizes they will never be able to have, where "ever'body's gonna be nice to you. Ain't gonna be no more trouble" (Steinbeck 161). With a shaking hand, he shoots Lennie in the back of the head.

Steinbeck builds foreshadowing into the structure of his story. The dead mouse that George forces Lennie to surrender at the start of the story, for example, prefigures the puppy and the woman that Lennie's strength will later kill. The riverbank that, at the start of the story, provides a haven for the two men, ultimately becomes the scene of the story's tragic ending. The simple story and highly theatrical presentation helped make it an instant bestseller and obvious material for a play.

Shortly after the book was published and the stage version opened on Broadway, both in 1937, Hollywood began considering making a movie of Steinbeck's touching story. James Cagney convinced Warner Brothers to buy the rights with an eye toward playing George on film (Parini 197). Director Lewis Milestone, who had won an Oscar for All Quiet on the Western Front, began to work on a screenplay with writer Eugene Solow. Eventually, he cast Burgess Meredith as George and Lon Chaney, Jr., as Lennie, one of the best possible pieces of casting available at the time. Brian St. Pierre observes, "The film established Burgess Meredith as a movie star, if an offbeat one, and gave brief respectability to the acting career of Lon Chaney, Jr." (103). The two created a believably touching relationship onscreen that was largely responsible for the film's success at the ti...

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John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 17:54, August 18, 2017, from
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