Since I already used To Kill A Mockingbird, far and away my favorite classic book, I will have to use my second favorite.
Is there an American over the age of eighteen who doesn’t know what Of Mice and Men is about? The novella is a potent piece of Americana following itinerant ranch workers and traveling companions Lennie and George. The pair flee a rape accusation in Weed, California (caused by Lennie’s fondness for touching soft things, he stroked a girl’s dress), finding employment on a ranch in Salinas. While at the ranch George and Lennie find kindred spirits as well as social obstacles, and begin to believe that their dream of owning a small piece of land on which Lennie can raise soft bunnies may one day come true.
If you’ve read any Steinbeck at all you know that disappointed hopes are only a turn of the page away, and this story is no different. The relationship between Lennie and George becomes ever clearer as the story rumbles toward a heartbreaking conclusion. It’s a sad one, no doubt, but California is my home state (working my home class) and even the tiniest bits of description ring true. The life, the hopes, the men, women, and the environment depicted in this novella are deeply familiar to me as the story is affecting. No matter how many times I read it, I still hope for the best.
Fun fact: I once made a diorama of the bunk house in Of Mice and Men using Lego people, paper towels, and toothpicks. It was pretty awesome.