Well, somehow I've managed to read close to 800 books by now, and none of those had been Of Mice and Men. That has been remedied now, and I'm feeling emotionally drained by it. So yeah.I suppose pretty much everyone knows the heartbreaking story of Lennie and George. I was relatively 'unspoiled' and still knew what happened in the end. I just did not know how or why, but figured out those pretty quickly into the book. And still that did not help the sense of impending doom that was like one protracted gut punch. I think that says something about the masterful writing - where the story takes over so much that you keep reading despite the clear sense of where it is going, without having to rely on suspense or twists - instead, going forward just on the impact of the story itself"I ought to of shot that dog myself, George. I shouldn't ought to of let no stranger shoot my dog."I used to work with Special Education kids some time ago. And I have seen first-hand what Steinbeck describes in Of Mice and Men - the childlike vulnerability and innocence often combined with physical strength, just waiting for something bad to happen. The children we took care of - some of which topped my 5'3'' frame by a foot or so and outweighed me by a good hundred pounds (but despite that a few times I had to physically put myself on between them and a smaller child) - had, unlike Lennie, the society that is determined to protect them. They were luckier than poor George's charge. But I could not help but picture some of them, who have forever secured spots in my heart, in place of Lennie Small, feeling nothing but dread and sadness. Lennie, who is as innocent as one gets, and yet as much of a unwilling menace as one can be. And it was soul-crushing.I think the impact of this story was that it did not have me taking sides. I felt bad for Lennie. I felt awful for Curley's wife who does not even have a NAME in this story. I felt sad for George and what he had to do. And I felt bad for the whole bunch of men who had names and stories, and a woman who got one but not the other."You God damn tramp," be said viciously. "You done it, di'n't you? I s'pose you're glad. Ever'body knowed you'd mess things up. You wasn't no good. You ain't no good now, you lousy tart."And that's where this book lost stars for me. Curley's wife, the unwilling almost-antagonist/victim of this story. The woman who had no name except for the possessive one of her husband whose property - and therefore trouble for everyone else - she was viewed as. It seemed that she was the one getting the blame, not as much the crazy volatile husband of hers. After all, she *asked* for trouble, didn't she? At least that's the nagging feeling I got from this story, from the way her character was handled, from the way it was repeatedly stated that a 'tart' like her meant trouble for a man. Blame-the-victim mentality does not sit well with me, and I can't help but think that Steinbeck did that. And the words, 'Poor bastard' that George utters over her corpse, thinking of Lennie - not about the young woman who was brutally murdered, but of Lennie, the murderer - those made me so sad for the victim that did not get her share of sadness. This book is definitely a classic with a profound impact on the reader, a short read that is in no way easy. It deserves the fame and recognition that it has enjoyed for quite a few years. 3.5 stars from me (it would have been 4.5 stars, but for the literary treatment of Curley's wife).