Course: ENG 2150
Professor: Matt Lombardi
Differences between the Book and the Film
Inspired by the line, “The best laid schemes of mice and men/Go often awry,” in Robert Burns’ poem” To a mouse”, the famous writer John Steinbeck had his masterpiece Of Mice and Men published in 1937. The tragic novella is such a hit that it brought him the Nobel Award. In 1992, Gary Sinise adapted the novella into a film. Although based on the same story, Steinbeck and Sinise express their different intentions by portraying some characters with different perspectives. I think the book arouses more sadness and is darker than the film because Steinbeck focuses on revealing the cruelty and hopelessness in the Great Depression in multiple ways including the discrimination against women and blacks and the twisted interpersonal relationship while Sinise cuts down these gloomy aspects and pays more attention to sympathizing with the characters.
The book is darker because it contains the gender and racial discrimination while the film omits them and gives more sympathy to Curley’s wife and Crooks.
As for Curley’s wife, the only but important woman in the story, she is different in the eyes of Steinbeck and Sinise. In the book, she is a flat character and Steinbeck almost reveals her bad qualities through a bias lens of sexual discrimination. In the film, she is a pure dreamer, lively, more emotional and pathetic. For example, above all, she is regarded as a tart and a trouble maker in the book for she makes up her face heavily and always flirts with other ranch hands. Candy says “I seen her give Slim the eye. Curley never seen it. An’ I seen her give Carlson the eye.”( Pag.14) And he judges that” Curley’s wife can move quiet. I guess she had a lot of practice.”(Pag.39) Besides, Whit thinks Curley’s wife” even gives the stable buck the eye” and she “[s]eems like she can’t keep away from guys.” (Pag.25) George also describes her as “a jail bait all set on the trigger”(Pag.25) and always asks Lennie not to talk to her. What’s more, Curley’s wife is kind of evil when she looks down on Candy and threatens Crooks in the harness room relying on her destiny of Curley’s wife. She says something aggressive such as the complaint of “[s]tandin’ here talkin’ to a bunch of bindle stiffs.”(Pag.35) And when Crooks says coldly he had enough of her, she cows Crooks in scorn, ”Listen, Nigger. You know what I can do to you if you open your trap”,(Pag.35) which means Curley’s wife can get the three men canned a bit cruelly and oppresses the weaker men. (Pag.38) However, in the movie, Sinise omits these “bad” sections and adds more scenes to reflect Curley’s wife’s loneliness. She is very upset when she tries to talk to George and Lennie but is repelled by them. She cries when she says she will go to the town someday like Curley. And there is one more scene in the movie: Curley’s wife encounters George in the horse stable, but later when Curley comes in and asks her to return to their house angrily, Curley’s wife rebels and cries,” Why I cannot talk to others except for you!” The direct conflicts with Curley serve as a foil to her tragedy full of loneliness and limits as a woman and audience’s sympathy for her follows.
A little the same as Curley’s wife, Crooks is also a representative of despised groups and is also different in the two versions of the story. In the book, Crooks is more humble and has more loneliness under the idea of white superiority. In the film, he is just a minor character who should be sympathized with. For instance, in the book, Steinbeck uses a whole chapter to portray Crooks’ loneliness. Crooks repeats his lonely feelings to Lennie again and again. Especially, he initially doubts Lennie, George and Candy’s dream because he works with little wages and thinks it’s just an illusion. But when Candy says that they will have enough money, Crooks wants to get involved. However,…