The title of the book comes from a poem by Robert Burns, who wrote it after overturning the nest of a field mouse with his plough. In the penultimate stanza, Burns observes that:
The best laid schemes of Mice and Men,
Gang aft agley,
And leave us nought but grief and pain,
For promised joy!
This is an apt description of George and Lennie's situation. They have laid plans for a life of freedom and independence, working their own land instead of someone else's, and by the end of the book these schemes have come to nothing. It is fitting that they should end up physically as well as metaphorically exactly where they started.
However, in the final stanza of the poem, Burns says that the mouse is more fortunate than he is himself, since "the present only toucheth thee," while the poet is plagued by unhappy memories of the past and fears for the future. In Of Mice and Men , Steinbeck uses the idyllic, peaceful setting, similarly described at the beginning and end of the book, to emphasize the...
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