“Of Mice and Men” is a classic work of literature that was adapted for the stage by John Steinbeck, who worked with playwright George S. Kaufman. It was first performed on Broadway in New York City on November 23, 1937. It starred Wallace Ford as George and Broderick Crawford as Lennie. It ran for 207 performances and won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award. The story follows two migrant farmhands, George and Lennie Small. They share a dream to own a farm.
This novel is often misattributed as a critique of a certain class of society. Its original title, “Something That Happened,” was intended to de-personalize the characters and avoid assigning blame to individuals. While many readers may think that this is a critique of a specific class, the story is actually a critique of a whole class of people.
John Steinbeck began working on this novella in 1936. His intention was to write a realistic parable about life for migrant farmhands in the Salinas Valley. His work became popular during the years before World War II. As a bindlestiff himself, Steinbeck had lived through the hardships of the migrant workers. Steinbeck was not a political commentator, instead he saw himself as an artist who created works of art with universal meaning.
The main characters in “Of Mice and Men” are Lennie and George. Lennie is a simple character with a big dream, but he lives in a small world, so his dream can never come true. The characters are flawed, but they are noble. The story makes the reader think about why “the best laid plans” often go awry.