Today we pause to recognize a great American writer, John Steinbeck, who was born on Feb. 27, 1902, in Salinas, California. A rural area known for growing lettuce and other vegetables, the Salinas Valley left an impression on Steinbeck who later wrote about a downtrodden family of migrant workers in his most famous novel, The Grapes of Wrath. The book earned Steinbeck a Pulitzer Prize in 1940, and he also won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962.
One of Steinbeck’s later novels, East of Eden, was made into a classic movie starring James Dean. Another tale of migrant workers in California, Of Mice and Men, published in 1937, conveys Steinbeck’s theme of hopelessness and hard times in the depth of the Great Depression.
The following thoughts on rivalry in Of Mice and Men were contributed by Ms. Liz Browning’s class at Cathedral High School:
“This story is full of many different twists. Rivalry occurs between Lennie, George, and the boss’s son Curly. Lennie has a severe problem of wanting to pet soft things and killing them, like a mouse he kills in the beginning of the book. In addition, Lennie’s love for George and vice-versa is evident through the book, presenting death and passion as reoccurring themes. Near the end, the story line comes together and the beginning of the novel foreshadows the end.”
In February and March, Indiana Humanities is exploring the topic of “rivalry,” as part of its Spirit of Competition theme. This post was written by Nancy Conner, director of grants and coordinator of Novel Conversations. The Grapes of Wrath, Of Mice and Men and James Dean, Rebel with a Cause are all available for book groups to borrow from Novel Conversations.