John Steinbeck's novel "Of Mice and Men" should not be banned form the grade 9
curriculum. This story of a man and his best friend is a great source for teaching in schools.
In the book a mentally challenged character is presented. This book teaches
us that people who aren't as smart as some are still good people and can do just as
much as anybody else, sometimes even more. "I ain't saying he's bright. He ain't.
But I say he's a God damn good worker. He can put up four hundred pound bale."
(Steinbeck, 22) Also Steinbeck specifies that being mentally handicapped does not make
someone crazy. "He's dumb as hell, but he ain't crazy." (Steinbeck, 39) This shows people
don't have to be smart to be hard working, caring people. "Guy don't need no sense to be a nice fella." (Steinbeck, 40)
"Of Mice and Men" is an interesting history lesson. It is a source for
learning about the mentally challenged and racism as it was dealt with in the thirties
and also the depression. The students get a chance to learn about the lifestyles of the
people who lived in this time while they are being entertained by a captivating story.
"Hardly none of the guys travel together." (Steinbeck, 39) This tells about the way tha
t people traveled in contrast with today, where it is not odd for people to travel together.
The novel gives us an idea of what people did on weekends and in their spare time, such
as play horseshoes, cards and other things "An' where's George now? In town in a whore
house" (Steinbeck, 76) as opposed to today where there are a variety of things a person
can do for fun. This "dark period", as the school board calls it, the depression, needs to be
revealed to young readers so they realize the hardships people went through so they may be
prevented for future generations.
Yes, the book deals with racism, but it is an easy way to bring up the topic
in a classroom and discuss it. It is important for young adults to be approached with the
topic now, so they will be able to deal with it in the future if a situation dealing with the
subject ever comes up. If it is taught in a classroom setting, somewhere comfortable and
familiar, students will feel that it is easier to voice their opinion and will not feel timid about
asking questions. "Of Mice and Men" educates people about racism the way it was in the thirties.
There is an African-American character present in the book, and he feels that because he is black
that no one cares about him and he says that people need someone to care about them even
if they are different, and to have compassion for others. "This is just a nigger talkin', and a
busted-back nigger. So it don't mean nothing, see?" (Steinbeck, 71) and "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" (Steinbeck, 72)
Although the committee feels that this book should be removed from the grade 9
level, it should stay because of the things people can get out of this book. It contains many
valuable lessons, such as having to show respect to minorities, and it gives a lesson on
American history. Steinbeck's novel "OF Mice and Men" is a useful to give these messages to a
grade nine student.