The brevity of Steinbeck’s short work, Of Mice and Men, can be misleading. Easily tucked into a pocket or subsumed by heavy course books in a backpack, the text is often underestimated by students at first glance. True, the first fifteen pages can be a laborious task to trudge through, with lengthy descriptions of the Salinas Valley and play by plays of the unlikely dynamic between Lennie and George. But, as one student described, the ending truly punches you in the stomach and forces you to open your eyes a little wider to the intricacies of the American Dream. Suddenly, seemingly random descriptions are revealed as foreshadowing.
Students were asked to study the themes in Of Mice and Men and concoct a poem of their own design. Two outstanding student samples are printed below.
An Everyday Metamorphosis
By Dieter Brehm
We work hard to get to the next day,
dreaming of the future
planning our next moves
preparing our tools
prettying our faces.
We turn into cold hard lumps
deadly if woken.
We carry our bodies through the day
expending our energy
our plans come to fruition
Adaptation is key: we cannot be trapped
we cannot be crushed and mangled
by the hands of disappointment.
The First Recoil
By Calvin Bates
We did not account for the human mind
Our plans, disgraced by it.
If not for it, we would be riding atop the highest clouds,
Fans roaring like waves breaking against a rocky beach.
For we toiled for weeks, grinding
the defensive structure into our minds
A shifting, rotating machine,
each one of us a cog or an axle.
But O, did we know the woe of defeat
When a chink in our armor he did find.
Arcing through the air like a finch in flight
And then fast, we watch the abrupt recoil.
While the dreams of victory scatter from our minds
Our plans, though laid with care,
fell victim to the uncertainty held by time.