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Friday, December 19, 2014

Selfie Book Club: Of Mice and Men

I have not been handy in the kitchen lately.

In fact, everything seems to go to crap when I try to get dinner started. The utensil drawer broke. I reached for a bowl along the top of the cabinet and the entire shelf came crashing down on me. I tried to make a mascarpone-egg cream for fettuccini and it curdled on contact. I went to get the food processor out of the closet and it fell and shattered -- on the carpet. THE PLASTIC SHATTERED ON CARPET! How is that even possible?

A wise woman put it in perspective and told me "maybe part of you is rebelling against this homemaker stuff you're trying to force on yourself."

I took her words to heart. I'm not the person to greet people at the door with a perfect cake in hand. I'm not going to have a home-cooked dinner on the table when my husband gets home because I WORK TOO! And he gets home when I get home, because I'm the driver, too! I guess I'm trying to pigeonhole myself into something I'm not. But when a city girl gets stuck in a place like Pullman, what else should I do to satisfy the needs of time passing, entertainment and creativity?

I suppose reading books answers some of those questions. Maybe writing about reading takes care of the rest of it.

I've been devouring old classics that I never had a chance to read. Last night I finished the quick novella Of Mice and Men, since I loved Steinbeck's epic East of Eden so much.

"Take a real smart guy and he ain't hardly ever a nice fella."

This line about sums up the text. Big dumb Lennie and smaller, slightly smarter George are off to find the American dream, working together on farms in an attempt to save up and buy their own house on a small plot and live off the "fatta the lan'."

I never knew that this funny cartoon was a parody of this classic. I kept picturing these two knuckleheads out trying to make a living together.


I think this is the right image. I don't know.

Anyway, finishing this book made me sit there and stare at that last Penguin publishing page and try to gather my thoughts. The kind of stewing in your mind that makes you jump when you get caught.

The plotline is so simple, but the themes that lay below the surface are numerous: race, inequality, marriage, friendship/companionship, too much love, not enough love. And dreams. I guess dreams and wishes and wants are the big ones.

Poor Lennie has so much love in his heart that he can't properly express without squishing animals to death. Mice, dogs. Plus one woman. Poor Curley's wife, who didn't even have a name that we knew. She was always looking for attention, and she finally got by getting her neck snapped. Her crime was letting Lennie pet her hair, lovingly brushed to silky perfection.

George did what he felt was right and decent for his friend. Lennie was off looking in the distance repeating the long-repeated dream about a farm with rabbits that will be fed plenty of alfalfa when (spoiler alert) George fixes him the way that stranger fixed 'ol Candy's dog. He aimed that rifle right at the back of the head, where he won't feel nothin'. And so Curley can't come after him.

The dream, the friendship, the giant heart of love! All blown to bits for the poor guy's own good. Lennie dies. Mean Curley lives on. Maybe Steinbeck was saying that Darwinism isn't always on our side. 

"(Lennie) subsided, grumbling to himself, threatening the future cats which might dare to disturb the future rabbits."

Poor Lennie. He might have been a pretty good rabbit-keeper.

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