The film and book Of Mice and Men are both memorable works of fiction. While they share many similarities, there are also some key differences.
One of the biggest differences is in the character of Lennie. In the book, Lennie is rather simple-minded and childlike. He doesn’t understand much, but he is gentle and good-natured. In the film, however, Lennie is played as more feral and dangerous. He’s still not entirely in control of himself, but he’s far more menacing than in the book.
Another big difference is the ending. In the book, George kills Lennie to spare him from a painful death at the hands of others. It’s a mercy killing, and George does it out of love. In the film, however, Lennie is killed by Curley – and it’s far from merciful. Curley sadistically tortures and kills Lennie for fun, leaving George to watch in horror.
These are just some of the ways that the book and film Of Mice and Men differ from each other. Both are well worth a read or a view, but they offer different experiences.
When a book becomes so popular that it is turned into a film, it’s common for the script to be altered. The filmmakers are frequently allowed to take liberties. There are numerous significant modifications in Gary Sinise’s adaptation of John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. Despite the fact that both versions feature similar symbols, audiences miss out on the foreshadowing of the red and the thematic significance of solitaire.
Curley’s wife is given a name and back story, which allows the audience to develop empathy for her. Of Mice and Men is set in the time of the Great Depression and follows two men, Lennie Small who has mental disabilities, and George Milton, his caretaker. They travel around working at different ranches hoping to one day have their own land.
Along the way they meet Candy, an old man who works on the ranch and dreams of owning his own land as well; Crooks, a black stable buck who deals with racist remarks; Curley, the boss’ son who likes to pick fights; and finally Curley’s wife. Steinbeck uses symbols such as red to foreshadow events that are going to happen later in the book.
The use of red is first seen when Lennie is talking to George about his dream. He describes the farm they are going to have with “alfalfa for the rabbits… and a big vegetable patch and a rabbit hutch and chickens. An’ down that way there’ll be a cow pasture, an’ some pigs an’ maybe we can have a milk cow. Can we, George? Can we, huh? Say we can, George. Please say we can” (Steinbeck 17).
The color red is not just used here but also appears when Curley’s wife is first introduced into Of Mice and Men. Steinbeck describes her as wearing “a red cotton house dress and red mules, on the insteps of which were little bouquets of red ostrich feathers” (Steinbeck 67). The color red is significant because it is often associated with danger or death. In Of Mice and Men, the color red foreshadows Curley’s wife’s death.
Sinise changes Of Mice and Men by not including the foreshadowing that Steinbeck put in his book. He does this by having Curley’s wife wear a blue dress when she is first introduced in the film.
While reading Of Mice and Men, Candy comes into George and Lennie’s room to talk to them about their farm. In the book, Steinbeck has Candy playing solitaire by himself, which is a symbol for loneliness. He does this to show how even though Candy is with other people, he is still lonely. This is significant because it foreshadows that Curley’s wife will die a lonely death.
Sinise changes the scene so that when Candy first comes into George and Lennie’s room he is talking to Crooks. By having Crooks in the scene, Sinise takes away the symbolic aspect of Candy being alone.
When Steinbeck wrote Of Mice and Men, he wanted to communicate the theme of loneliness to his readers. He does this by having many of his characters be lonely. Curley’s wife is one of the loneliest characters in Of Mice and Men. Even though she is married, she is always left alone on the ranch.
This is seen when Lennie first meets her and she says, “I get lonely… I got nobody to talk to… You gotta talk to somebody” (Steinbeck 68). Curley’s wife is so lonely that she talks to Lennie even though he has mental disabilities and can’t have a conversation with her.
Sinise changes the scene between Lennie and Curley’s wife by having her talk about how her husband never pays attention to her. In the book, Steinbeck has her talk about how she gets lonely and how nobody ever talks to her. By having her talk about her husband, Sinise changes the theme of loneliness to the theme of being trapped.
Of Mice and Men is a book that is full of symbols and themes. Sinise changes some of these symbols and themes when he creates his film version. Although the film is a good adaptation, it lacks some of the important aspects that Steinbeck includes in his book.
The lack of foreshadowing regarding the color red transforms the sign’s meaning. A woman running down a hillside in a crimson dress appears in the film’s opening scene, Weed. In the book, George recounts what happened as he says, “Well, he noticed this girl… So he stretched out to touch her red dress and she let out a squawk.”
”She’d been runnin’, an’ that red dress flapped like it was tryin’ to fly away.” (Steinbeck 43) The description of the dress by George in the book lets the reader know that there is more to just a pretty dress, but the book does not give much more information.
In Of Mice and Men film, however, during Curley’s wife funeral Lennie is seen placing his hand on her hair which is covering her face. this is a big contrast from what Steinbeck wrote in the book: ”Curley’s wife never looked at him. Her eyes were red and swollen from crying, and she held a folded handkerchief in one hand.”(Steinbeck 107).
From the way, Steinbeck described Curley’s wife it is safe to say that she was not attractive in any way. Lennie touching her hair could be seen as him being attracted to her, but it is more likely that he was just curious about the softness of her hair. This event is not in the book Of Mice and Men, but it is a key element in the film that changes the viewers opinion on Curley’s wife.
When George shoots Lennie at the end of Of Mice and Men, it is done out of mercy. In the book, Steinbeck writes: ”And then he did what he had wanted to do so badly–for himself and for Lennie–what he had thought about so often”. (Steinbeck 107) From this quote, it is clear that George shooting Lennie was something that he had thought about before and it was not a rash decision.
In the film, however, George’s decision to shoot Lennie is much more impulsive. George shoots Lennie after Curley has beaten him unconscious and it seems like George does not even hesitate before pulling the trigger. This change from the book to the film makes George seem like less of a sympathetic character because his decision to kill his friend seems very callous.