Mice and Men: Necessity to Provide Age Restriction
Of Mice and Men was written and published during the Great Depression. It is about 2 migrant workers, George and Lennie who are suffering from the effects of the Great Depression. They are polar opposites, George is a small, smart person who shows leadership, while Lennie is a big, less intelligent person who follows George’s lead. They are traveling from ranch to ranch looking for work just to survive. Between their trips to ranches, they always talked about their dream of one day owning a farm of their own, with white fences, and some rabbits for Lennie to take care of. The book “Of Mice and Men” should not be banned, but have an age restriction. It has values that are important in today’s society and portrays an important message, but it is not suitable for all ages.
There are some aspects of the book that are not suitable for some ages and even society as a whole. For example, there are parts of the book that promote things such as racism. John Ernst Steinbeck Jr. was born on February 28, 1902 in Salinas, CA. He was the only son of John Ernst Steinbeck Sr. and Olive Hamilton. He had 3 siblings, all girls. His father was a hard worker who tried many different occupations just to keep food on their families table. He owned a feed-and-grain store, managed a flour plant and served as treasurer of Monterey County. His mother, Olive Hamilton Steinbeck, was a former schoolteacher. Steinbeck grew up with his three sisters, being quiet and writing a lot. He decided by the age of 14 that he wanted to become a writer. He would lock himself in his bedroom and write stories and poems. In 1919, Steinbeck enrolled in Stanford University. However, he did not find much of a need for college and a degree. He enrolled more for his parent rather than himself. His attendance in college was inconsistent for 6 years until he decided to drop out officially in 1925. After dropping out, he moved to New York and worked as a construction worker while he pursued his dream of being a writer. He then started publishing books. Some of which are Of Mice and Men, The Grapes of Wrath, East of Eden, and Cannery Row.
His most famous book is either Of Mice and Men, or The Grapes of Wrath. “He was not the most popular writer of his era, not by a long shot, but he was considered in his own time to be one of the finest writers in America” (Quora). This quote from Quora explains how great of an author Steinbeck was in his time and even now. His book Of Mice and Men was chosen for the “New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Of Mice and Men,” and his other bestseller The Grapes of Wrath was “Pulitzer Prize for Fiction” and “National Book Award for Fiction” (sjsu.edu). This shows that steinbeck has won many awards for his great literary work. In order to receive these awards, a writer must make their works interesting and creative. Author’s do this by creating a story that leads the reader to not want to stop reading. Steinbeck’s literary works have these qualities. The novel, Of Mice and Men, was published in 1937. It takes place in California, and it’s about two migrant workers named George Milton and Lennie Small, who are just looking for work to keep themselves alive.
The novel starts with George and Lennie traveling to a ranch for work. They spend the night on a peaceful river bank. They begin to talk about their dream of one day owning a ranch, with white fences surrounding their land, and rabbits running along it and Lennie can pet and tend them however much he wants. The next day comes and they finally reach the ranch. They get hired, and meet the workers. Candy, an old crippled man, and Curley, the boss’ arrogant son who is always looking for a fight, Slim who was the ranch house leader, and Carlson who is just another worker on the ranch. Candy had a dog, that resembled Candy a lot. The dog was old, crippled, and suffering. Carlson suggested to kill the dog to end its suffering, and Candy agreed on it. However, Candy regretted it immediately regretted it because he let a stranger kill his dog. After working on the ranch for a couple days, Lennie meets Curley’s wife, who is beautiful and flirtatious. She begins flirting with Lennie and Lennie accidentally kills her when trying to comb her hair. Everyone on the ranch finds out and wants Lennie killed on sight. He goes back to the river where George told him to hide if there was ever any trouble. George finds him there and starts talking about their dream of living on the ranch together to calm him down. In the middle of his story, George decides to kill Lennie, to prevent him from being tortured and suffering later on when the ranch workers found him. He also wanted him to die at peace and happily, and not in pain and fear. Some people wonder what inspired John Steinbeck’s award winning book. Steinbeck was inspired by his childhood observations of the poor migrant workers scratching out a meager living traveling from one ranch or farm to another. Where he lived as a child, was dependent on cheap labor. Similar to Of Mice and Men.
Steinbeck himself worked on ranches during the Great Depression and used the many people he met experiences in his novel. “Steinbeck would grow up to tell stories that many area Salinas Valley ranchers and farmers would rather not be told” (Steinbeck.org). Steinbeck wanted to send a message to all the readers that finish the book. He wanted them to realize many things. Some of these life lessons are to not judge a book by its cover. At the beginning of the story, Lennie is seen as a big, menacing guy while george is seen as a small, fragile guy. However, by the end of the story, the readers realize that it is the other way around. It also shows the reader about tough love. An example of this was when George had to shoot Lennie to prevent him from suffering and dying in fear. It was hard for George to do, but had to be done. Most people who read the book enjoyed the concept and idea of it. People appreciated the moral message and life lessons it taught us. However, parents, critics and some teachers believe it is not appropriate for children. After its publication, many critics were skeptical about the book. The book promoted themes that are not appropriate for society. Some critics and parents believed that their children were not ready for this material. For example, in some schools the book is challenged. “Challenged in the Normal (IL) Community High Schools because the book contains racial slurs, profanity, violence and does not represent traditional values” (Marshall University). This controversy was started because of the age and time in life that kids were reading this book. Kids between the ages of 12-16 were reading this book. Parents believe students are too young to hear about stories like this. However, the book was very successful and sold many copies to this day.
However, through the controversy, ban and more, the book is still relevant and still being read today. Of Mice and Men was banned due to the prominent themes throughout the novel. These themes are racism, profanity, euthanasia and more. These factors led to the banning of the book because parents, and critics feel it is not suitable for everyone. “Banned for using offensive language, racism, violence, and being unsuited to age group” (Marshall University). The reasoning behind this restriction was that since the books uses racism, offensive language, violence, etc. it is not suited for all ages. Many parents believe their kids should not be exposed to this type of environment. I believe that there should be objections to this because most critics are right. This book does teach good moral values and life lessons. For this reason, I feel that the book should be banned for certain ages. I believe once a student enters 10th grade, they should be allowed to read this book and teachers should be allowed to have it apart of their curriculum. The book has been used to expose students to real life situations that can occur in their life. Although most critics say that the book should be ban in schools, some critics say that “It tackles moral and ethical issues within the structure of a story. “The students really relate to the characters” (Pbs.org). This helps support the idea that the book should not be completely banned in schools. While reading this book, some people believe that it contains life lessons that are crucial for the youth to learn while their young. It claims prepares the youth by showing them what can happen in the future. These lessons are believed to show the people who read it the negative aspects of society. However, I believe that Of Mice and Men should not be banned.
This book is more beneficial to society than not. “John Steinbeck wrote of lessons of the heart, lessons that teach children what it is to be a human being with compassion for his fellow humans and a social conscience’ (BBC.com). Another reason is because the themes of the book relate to students and teaching very well. “Van Kirk believes the theme of bullying is of great relevance to teaching children in society today” (BBC.com). Some people wonder, what qualifies a book to be banned, or what is the criteria needed for a book to be banned. For a book to be banned, it must contain material that is not appropriate for the public. “Racial Issues: About and/or encouraging racism towards one or more group of people or Encouragement of ‘Damaging’ Lifestyles: Content of book encourages lifestyle choices that are not of the norm or could be considered dangerous or damaging” (libguides.butler.edu). I believe that books should not be banned. Books have valuable information in them that can benefit people more than hurt them. Age banning does not protect people from explicit content, it prevents them from expanding their interests, and discovering new information. “launched a campaign headed up by Philip Pullman disavowing publicly any link to age banding and describing it as ‘ill-conceived and damaging to the interests of young readers’. So far over 800 authors are supporting the campaign, including JK Rowling, Terry Pratchett and children’s laureate Michael Rosen” (theguardian.com). By banning books, it might even make people want to read the book even more.
The book “Of Mice and Men” should not be banned.It has values that are important in today’s society and portrays an important message. Even though there are parts to the book that promote things such as racism and other negative themes, the book still is relatable to students and teaching.
- Ott, Bill. ‘More classics we hate.’ Booklist, 15 Apr. 2013, p. 72. General OneFile, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A327988594/GPS?u=nysl_me_27_ms202&sid=GPS&xid=3a310a92. Accessed 17 Dec. 2018.
I chose this as one of my sources because it explains the reasons why the book is banned. It states that “Of Mice and Men” is “the world’s most depressing book” and it promotes murder by showing “ Lennie the Accidental Woman Killer or George the Best Friend Killer.” However, these only demonstrate the terrible times of the great depression and bring up the horrors of these times. Scales, Jodie. “BANNED: Of Mice and Men.” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, Sept. 2017, www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/banned-of-mice-and-men/. I chose this article as one of my sources because parents believe that their children aren’t ready to read this book at the time that they do. This is because of the profanity, morbid and depressing themes, and anti-business attitude. The book is also derogatory towards African Americans, women and the mentally disabled. These are an example of why the book should be banned. These reasons show that the book is not suitable for all ages and should be banned because it contains material that isn’t appropriate in society such as murder and discrimination.
- Young, Toby. ‘Gove killed neither mice nor mockingbirds.’ Spectator, 31 May 2014, p. 67. General OneFile, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A375699009/GPS?u=nysl_me_27_ms202&sid=GPS&xid=baec8d45. Accessed 17 Dec. 2018.
I chose this article as one of my sources because it explains why the book should not be read by children. It also explains how the book should be rejected in the name of more nationally centered syllabus’. This means that the book should be banned because it does not promote what the nation wants it to. For example, the book promotes violence, and racism and that is not what a nation would want their citizens to be reading. So, it is banned to prevent people from being influenced by it.
- Titus, Ron. “Marshall University Libraries.” Womens Center, Marshall University, 28 July 2016, www.marshall.edu/library/bannedbooks/books/miceandmen.asp.
I chose this article as one of my sources because it cites the reasons why the book was banned in certain areas on certain dates. For example, it shows that “Of Mice and Men” was banned because of its negative mood in 2016 in 9th-grade English classes in Coeur d’Alene.
- Brown, Nate. “On John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men.” PEN America, 15 Oct. 2012, https://pen.org/on-john-steinbecks-of-mice-and-men/
I chose this as one of my sources because this article shows that the book attempts to promote euthanasia in the youth of our society. This idea is prominent when Carlson kills Candy’s dog. His dog was going to die of old age; it had a painful disease. By killing it, Carlson ended its misery and saved it from any more suffering. The second time was when George kills Lennie. After Lennie kills Curley’s wife, he goes into hiding. George finds him and shoots him, instead of him suffering for killing Curley’s wife.
- Admin. “Banned & Challenged Classics.” United for Libraries, 17 Oct. 2017, www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks/frequentlychallengedbooks/classics.
I chose this article as one of my sources because this article shows the locations which banned the book and cites the reason why. The reasons why the book was banned helps prove why the book should be banned because it shows how the book is unsuitable for some ages and should not be ready as early as middle school.
- “Biography.” National Steinbeck Center, www.steinbeck.org/about-john/biography/.
I chose this article because the article gives a great background on Steinbeck and helps us understand his past and what made him write his great works.
- Flood, Alison. “Librarians Oppose Age Recommendations for Books.” The Guardian, Guardian News, and Media, 27 Oct. 2008, www.theguardian.com/books/2008/oct/27/age-banding-childrens-books.
I chose this article because it shows how librarians don’t even follow the age restrictions of some books and also shows how the authors of the banned books feel that banning the book is worse than letting all ages and people read it.
- “Who, What, Why: Why Do Children Study Of Mice and Men?” BBC News, BBC, 25 Mar. 2011, www.bbc.com/news/magazine-12829392.
I chose this as one of my sources because it helps describe how Of Mice and Men is beneficial and why it should not be banned.
- “LibGuides: Banned Books: Reasons for Banning Books.” Reasons for Banning Books – Banned Books – LibGuides at Butler University, 15 Sept. 2017, libguides.butler.edu/bannedbooks?p=217686.
I chose this as one of my sources because it helps us understand the reasons for Of Mice and Men being banned.