Books Similar to Of Mice and Men

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  • 0:03 Of Mice and Men
  • 0:38 Tone
  • 1:23 Themes
  • 3:35 Content
  • 4:27 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Erin Carroll

Erin has taught English and History. She has a bachelor's degree in History, and a master's degree in International Relations

In this lesson, you'll get a brief overview of books similar to 'Of Mice and Men.' First, you'll learn about a book with a similar tone, then three books that explore similar themes, and finally two books that have a similar setting and content to Steinbeck's novella.

Of Mice and Men

John Steinbeck's novella, Of Mice and Men, tells the story of two men working on farms in Central California hoping to save enough for their own place one day. Its ending is so sad and violent, it's a story that will stick with you forever. Set during the Great Depression, it's a short and heartbreaking study of loneliness, friendship, and the impossibility of achieving the American Dream. Perhaps you want to read some other books similar to Of Mice and Men. In that case, whether it's the tone, themes, or the subject matter that you're drawn to there are many books like Of Mice and Men to explore.


First, we will look at books with a similar tone. The tone of Of Mice and Men is fatalistic, meaning you can tell from the beginning that the characters are doomed, and that their fate is already sealed. Steinbeck uses a kind of sad and sympathetic tone throughout the novella. He feels deeply for these men who are at the mercy of an unfair and unfeeling society.

Another book with this kind of sympathetic, fatalistic tone is The Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemingway. Published in 1952, it tells the story of an old, unlucky Cuban fisherman struggling to catch a fish. There's a sympathy and tenderness in Hemingway's tone as he describes the fisherman's lonely struggle. Like Steinbeck's writing, Hemingway's is straightforward, and the book is a short read.


Of Mice and Men deals with many different themes, but two of the most important are the futile pursuit of the American Dream and loneliness. There are many different books that deal with the impossibility of achieving the American Dream, that is, of working hard and achieving wealth and happiness. As Crooks observes in Of Mice and Men': Just like heaven. Ever'body wants a little piece of lan'. I read plenty of books out here. Nobody never gets to heaven, and nobody gets no land'.

Of Mice and Men describes the impossibility of the American Dream in a time of deprivation during the Great Depression. F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby examines the impossibility of the American Dream in a time of excess in the prosperous Roaring Twenties. Jay Gatsby, a reclusive millionaire, throws lavish parties for the rich and well-to-do in New York. His dream is to win back the woman he loves who is married to another man. Fitzgerald looks at the loss of innocence and corruption of American society in this book. Many of the characters throw money around trying to achieve happiness and the American Dream, yet they always elude them.

For a more recent critique of the American dream, you might read 1996's Fight Club written by Chuck Palahniuk. Fight Club follows a man suffering from insomnia and dissatisfaction with his boring life and job. He starts a fight club where weary men like him meet and fight one another. They're all searching for purpose and feeling in their lives. As one of the characters observes, 'We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off.'

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