Review Of Mice and Men: Sebuah Impian Lennie

Senin, 09 April 2012





Of Mice and Men: Sebuah Impian Lennie

by John Steinbeck

George yang bertubuh kecil dan temannya, Lennie, yang jauh lebih besar dan berotak sangat sederhana, adalah pengelana. Mereka tak punya apa-apa di dunia ini selain diri mereka sendiri dan sebuah impian. Suatu saat nanti mereka ingin punya sebidang tanah di suatu daerah sehingga mereka bisa hidup dengan damai. Mereka mencari pekerjaan di sebuah peternakan di California, di Lembah Salinas, dengan harapan akan tinggal cukup lama di sana dan mengumpulkan uang bersama. Tetapi, Lennie, yang baik hati dan bersifat seperti anak-anak, sering mendapat masalah—tak mampu mengendalikan diri, baik emosi maupun kekuatannya yang luar biasa, sehingga ia menjadi sasaran kekejaman orang lain. Suatu saat ia mendapat masalah besar lagi. Tidak seperti sebelumnya, tampaknya kali ini George tak akan dapat menyelamatkan sahabat sejatinya.

Sepenggal kisah yang sangat mengharukan tentang orang-orang yang kesepian dan sendirian, Of Mice and Men merupakan salah satu buku karya John Steinbeck yang terkenal dan paling populer.

Ufuk Press 2006

Annisa: Setelah ditimbun dari kapan tahun akhirnya kebaca juga buku tipis ini. Buku yang bikin saya kaget dan sedih dengan endingnya. Ngga nyangka kalo buku setipis ini bisa menyebabkan efek sebegitunya. John Steinbeck ternyata ahli membangun emosi dan “panggung” dari ending yang sudah dia siapkan.

Tema besar dari buku kecil ini (menurut saya) adalah rasa kesepian dan persahabatan. Persahabatan antara Lennie, seorang pria berbadan dan bertenaga besar namun bermental seperti anak-anak dan George, seorang pria kecil yang (lumayan) pintar. Rasanya dalam buku tidak ditulis secara eksplisit tentang tahun latar cerita ini. Namun dari sumber-sumber yang saya baca cerita dalam buku ini berlatar ketika Amerika mengalami krisis ekonomi pada tahun 1920an.

George dan Lennie berpindah-pindah kerja dari suatu tempat kerja ke tempat kerja lainnya. Kebanyakan penyebab mereka harus berpindah adalah Lennie yang (secara tidak sengaja) menimbulkan masalah. Lennie adalah lelaki besar bermental anak-anak yang sangat suka mengelus2 hewan peliharaan atau apapun yang menarik minatnya.

Kali terakhir mereka bekerja, mereka harus melarikan diri karena Lennie ingin memegang baju dari seorang perempuan yang menurut Lennie kainnya bagus dan menarik. Perempuan tersebut ketakutan dan menjerit-jerit, karena panik Lennie tidak sengaja memegang tangan perempuan tersebut keras-keras. Lennie pun dituduh berbuat tidak senonoh dan mereka berdua harus kabur untuk menyelamatkan jiwa Lennie dari aksi “main hakim sendiri”.

Cerita dibuka dengan adegan dimana George dan Lennie sedang beristirahat di tepi danau dekat tempat baru dimana mereka akan bekerja. George memaksa Lennie untuk menyerahkan benda yang ada dalam sakunya yang ternyata adalah sebuah tikus mati. Lennie tidak bermaksud untuk membunuh tikus itu, bahkan dia ingin memeliharanya. Namun karena tenaganya yang terlalu kuat, Lennie tidak sengaja membuat tikus tersebut mati.

George marah dengan kelakuan Lennie. Namun pada akhirnya hatinya luluh. Dan saya terharu ketika dengan polos seperti anak kecil Lennie minta George untuk menceritakan ulang mimpi mereka berdua. Mereka berdua bermimpi memiliki sepetak lahan dan rumah lengkap dengan kebun kecil. Mereka juga ingin memelihara binatang seperti sapi, ayam dan spesial pesanan Lennie, mereka harus memelihara kelinci. Lennie sangat ingin memelihara kelinci sampai bisa dibilang nyaris terobsesi.

Sepanjang awal cerita saya terus-terusan mencari ulterior motif kenapa George mau bersusah payah mengurusi dan menjaga Lennie. Memastikan bahwa Lennie tetap aman dan tidak mendapatkan masalah. Tidak ada pertalian darah antara mereka. Mereka dua orang yang simply menjalani hidup berdua. Awalnya pikiran skeptis saya menduga pasti ada penyebab lain, hutang budi atau latar belakang sejarah lain yang menyebabkan Lennie sangat menghormati dan menyayangi George dan George juga sangat perduli dengan Lennie, walau terkadang tidak dipungkiri George pun merasa terbebani. Jawabannya ada dalam quotes ini yang dilontarkan oleh seorang tokoh di ¾ terakhir buku.

“A guy goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody. Don’t make no difference who the guy is, long’s he’s with you.”

Mereka bersabahat, pure bersahabat karena memiliki seseorang jauh lebih baik dari kesepian sendirian. Tidak perduli seperti apa dan siapa orang itu, jika mereka sudah saling membantu dalam waktu yang begitu lama mereka akan begitu terbiasa satu sama lain dan menerima apa adanya.

Mengingatkan saya teori karangan saya sendiri tentang kaos bekas. Kaos yang sudah lama kita pakai di rumah semakin lama akan semakin nyaman, tidak perduli warnanya semakin pudar atau ada bolong kecil di sana sini, kita akan semakin nyaman memakai kaos tersebut karena sudah sangat terbiasa dengannya. Dan tidak mungkin kita dengan mudahnya membuang rasa nyaman tersebut. Metafora yang saya ciptakan sendiri tentang suatu bentuk hubungan yang ideal.

Anyway, George dan Lennie akhirnya tiba di tempat kerja mereka yang baru. Disana mereka bertemu dengan tokoh-tokoh tambahan yang juga sarat dengan rasa kesepian. Candy, Slim, Curley, Istri Curley dan Crooks.

Saya tidak akan menceritakan kelanjutannya ah. Nanti jadi spoiler. Yang jelas, saya berharap cerita ini memiliki ending yang berbeda. Karena ketika menutup buku saya dilingkupi dengan perasaan sedih dan muram. Seperti menonton film dengan ending yang menyesakkan.

Another great classics story yang simpel, sarat makna dan menurut saya wajib dibaca.

Posting review terakhir di tahun 2011. Mudah-mudahan di tahun 2012 lebih rajin baca dari pada rajin beli buku *lirik timbunan* hehehe..

Cindy: Sebuah kisah yang sangat menyentuh... tapi pada akhirnya, hanya bisa dikatakan, kesabaran manusia ada batasnya???!!

Ace: As happens sometimes, a moment settled and hovered and remained for much more than a moment. And sound stopped and movement stopped for much, much more than a moment.

Why I Read This

One of my 2012 resolutions is to read more classic literature. However, I’m a bit out of practice (the last ‘classic literature’ I read was in college six years ago), so I wasn’t sure where to start. Goodreads “Quote of the Day” for 02/06/12 was a line from Of Mice and Men. I had a copy sitting on my shelf (it has been there for a couple years), and I figured it was as good a place as any to start.

A small note: I actually have no idea how to review a classic, as this was an entirely different reading experience than I have with my young adult titles. Still, I believe all fiction—regardless of the genre—should be held to the same standards. That said, let’s get this show on the road.

Main Characters

Of Mice and Men follows George Milton and Lennie Small as they try to work up enough money to buy an acre of land they can call their own.

As described in the text, George is “…small and quick, dark of face, with restless eyes and sharp, strong features.” Though George comes off as gruff and impatient with Lennie, he actually has a big heart, and I found him to be very sympathetic. He does what he can with the lot he’s been handed in life, and he doesn’t turn his back on the people who need him, even when it threatens to ruin his life. He’s a strong, loyal character, though he’s certainly not without his flaws.
George’s counterpart, Lennie, is described as “… a huge man, shapeless of face, with large, pale eyes, with wide, sloping shoulders…” From the moment I met Lennie, I couldn’t help being drawn to him. He has this childlike innocence and naivety that makes him seem very approachable despite his hulking size. He is a kind soul who puts so much trust in others, specifically George, that I found it impossible not to like him.

Supporting Characters

There are two supporting characters who stand out more in my mind than the others: Slim and Candy.

Slim is the unofficial leader of the group. He has a voice that “invites confidence”, and he is kind to others, even when he doesn’t have any connection to them. I really liked Slim’s interactions with George and Lennie.

Candy is a swamper who works with George, Lennie, and Slim. He has big dreams born from unshakeable fears. He is incredibly likable and sympathetic.

A little side note: All through school, everyone called me Candy (the unfortunate nickname derived from Candace), and I have never seen a character by that name in a book before. I never expected that the first time I’d see that name, it would belong to a male character.

Plot

At its core, Of Mice and Men is a tale of two men trying to escape a dark past and make something of themselves in California, but it is the characters who make this story something more than it appears on the surface.

Writing

I have never been fond of written accents, but Steinbeck uses this style well throughout the dialogue, and it never overwhelms the scenes. The pacing is steady, building to a climax that, while suspenseful in its own right, is also a bit predictable. However, the characters and the writing overshadow the predictability.

Rating

It’s difficult to know how to rate a literary classic. Did I enjoy Of Mice and Men? Yes, I read it in one sitting and found myself flipping back to a few scenes. However, I can’t give it five stars because while the writing, characters, and pacing are really wonderful, I wanted more from the story. I want to know what happened after the final scene. Maybe I’m a little story-greedy, but I felt there could have been more. Still, I really enjoyed this story, and I would recommend it to those wanting to try some classic literature.

4 out of 5

Andy: "Crooks, the negro stable buck, had his bunk in the harness room; a little shed that leaned off the wall of the barn. On one side of the little room there was a square four-paned window, and on the other, a narrow plank door leading into the barn. Crooks' bunk was a long box filled with straw, on which his blankets were flung. On the wall by the window there were pegs on which hung broken harness in process of being mended; strips of new leather; and under the window itself a little bench for leather-working tools, curved knives and needles and balls of linen thread, and a small hand riveter. On pegs were also pieces of harness, a split collar with the horsehair stuffing sticking out, a broken hame, and a trace chain with its leather covering split. Crooks had his apple box over his bunk, and in it a range of medicine bottles, both for himself and for the horses. There were cans of saddle soap and a drippy can of tar with its paint brush sticking over the edge. And scattered about the floor were a number of personal possessions; for, being alone, Crooks could leave his things about, ad being a stable buck and a cripple, he was more permanent than the other men, and he had accumulated more possessions than he could carry on his back."
None of this is relevant to the story, and yet a middle chapter opens up with this vivid scene. Steinbeck succeeds because the characters he paints in your head are exact. The first time I saw the movie that was made out of this story, it was just as I had envisioned it. Though the story great itself, the reason I will come back to this book is for the little things, the very things that have made me love Steinbeck so much.

I first read Of Mice And Men my sophomore year of high school, when it was a required reading in Mrs. Beeler's class. I recall disliking almost all required school readings up to this point (though admittedly I had skipped out on the summer reading project of "The Grapes Of Wrath"). When this book was assigned, I knew it was different. I blew through it, reading it in a day or two, even though I wasn't supposed to. For once there was a school book that I enjoyed. And all the credit in the world to my teacher, who chose other good books the rest of the year. So it's been 6-7 years since I've read this, and now, reading it for the second time, it's just as memorable as I remember. The story sticks with you, the imagery sticks. The characters are among Steinbeck's best, painted in such a crystal clear vision of the time.

It's a near perfect short story, and one that I will surely revisit throughout my life.

K.D: This is my 2nd novel by John Steinbeck and I am not disappointed. I normally first read the said known masterpiece of an certain author before reading his or her other works. I got disappointed twice already: Virginia Woolf's To The Lighthouse which I enjoyed tremendously but when I read her Mrs. Dalloway, it was just not the same. Few years back, that also happened with Sebastian Faulks and his Birdsong. His other novels are just not at par with his masterpiece.
With Mr. Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men is definitely at par with The Grapes of Wrath. What makes this interesting is that this was written a couple of years ahead than Grapes, but it has the same strengths: gripping, poignant and sad. The setting is still the same: the Great Depression in California during the 1920's. The characters are also poor and marginalized. The only new character, which provides the difference here, is the nutty Lennie Small. But oh boy, what a big impact this dude brought to the plot.

I am not sure about who among the two main characters, Lennie Small and George Milton, is mouse and man. The descriptions at the start of the novel do not perfectly fit into the physical characteristics of man and mouse. Lennie is big (man) but with paws (mouse) but George is small (mouse) but strong hands (man). If Wikipedia is correct, the original title of the novel was Something That Happened until Mr. Steinbeck read a Burns poem.

I also did not see the series of killings that Lennie did would eventually result to killing a human being. He killed a mouse, then a puppy. He had not killed a rabbit yet when he accidentally killed a human being.

I did not like the talking rabbit towards the end of the story. Those dialogues could just have been mouthed by Lennie's Aunt Clara.

But the killing scene in the end is just brilliant. It is one of the most sad scenes in any modern classic novels I've read so far. It is disturbing but beautifully written. One that will stay in my mind for a long, long time.

Kudos to Mr. Steinbeck for another brilliant novel. Mr. Steinbeck, I am your big, big fan!