Despite the relatively small group, we had an interesting discussion of Steinbeck’s classic book. “A lovely little book for how small it is,” said one member. Another commented that ‘the gentle giant’ was a familiar Hollywood stereotype. It was also reminiscent of the Frankenstein story, where the ‘monster’ was much misunderstood.
We had a long discussion about whether Lennie’s death constituted a mercy killing, the group fairly splitting down the middle.
Other areas discussed were: the foreshadowing of Lennie’s fate; the repetition of a great deal of material in the novel, suggesting the repetitiveness of the lives of many people; whether the novel would be better as a play or as a movie (it having been made into both); the use of modern vocabulary such as ‘special needs’ or ‘developmentally delayed’ to describe Lennie.
I am amazed at each session how very much the men are actively enjoying the book. It is the first book we’ve read together where they stop of their own accord to comment.
It’s still a bit of a struggle to control the ebullient J. He reads far better than the rest… telling the others what the word is that they are struggling over.
S still struggles with elision of words (I’ll for I will; I’d for I would), and tries to skate over the problem with a fudge. We’ve agreed that when he reaches an elision he accentuates the word to show he’s recognised it and isn’t fudging. This has turned into a game and causes some merriment throughout the group.
A… is still not reading aloud, but seems to be following the words with his finger as the others read. He tells me he is now having help on the wing, and is settling into the group as a passive member. I’m hoping soon to persuade him to read just a line or two, or a chapter head, which might promote a bit of confidence.
A good session, with a little learning and a lot of pleasure.
‘Slow to start, but once the plot starts to move faster is picks you up and it’s hard to put down. Plenty of topics and questions to ask in the group talk. Gives great insight into the ingrained racism and sexism of 1920s America.’
‘Really enjoyable. Found the start a little slow but definitely picked up. Enjoyed the writing style and the book flowed well. Good personalities put into the characters and likes the perspective that the author wrote the book from.’
This was the first book that G has read the entire way through for a year and a half. He found the end a bit confusing. He also seemed to find the group work challenging and preferred to only stay for the beginning of the session.