I watched this Terry Pratchett documentary today (Choosing to Die):
It set me thinking about aging and getting old and god forbid, afflicted with a disease. It is a glum thought.
Switzerland and Belgium have legalized euthanasia. The documentary shows a couple live which has decided to go for assisted dying. It is terrible to see. It is tragic. Yet, at the same time, I can imagine the dread of a life in which you are nothing like yourself, where you are dependent on everyone but yourself. It is a very confusing topic – legally and emotionally.
I cannot imagine, how must the doctor reconcile with himself/herself in having assisted a person to die.
I wonder, if it comes to that, what would my choice be?
This is a novella by the nobel prize winning author John Steinbeck. The title of the book has been taken from a poem by Robert Burns called ” To the mouse” from the lines..”The best-laid plans of mice and men aft gang agly.”
And so is the story too. About two ranch workers whose dreams of having their own land and living in prosperity ends in a disappointment. There and many themes in the novel. The major ones being loneliness/solitude, dreams, friendship, euthanasia, and also about the curse of strength. The story is touching and it moves you in the heart. Set in the times of Great Depression, it is about how two friends roam from one ranch to another looking for jobs because one of them is simple minded and can’t stay away from trouble which he never intends to create. But his innocence takes him down all the time. The other friend always protects him but not this last time when he himself ends his friends and his own dreams.
There are instances of racial and gender discrimination, of class discrimination. Author has used many characters who are physically deformed and also ends up killing many of the animals in the story. All this points to the fact that this world is not perfect. There are aberrations and your even most cherished dreams may never see the light of the day. The book also seems to profess euthanasia. When a dog of a ranch worker gets old, he is suggested by others to get rid of him by killing him as he now only causing pain to himself as well as to the others. The same happens with Lennie Small who has now become nothing but a burden and should be freed, which eventually happens by the hands of his own friend. With this , the dream that they had shared together comes to its sad demise.
Other prominent theme is solitude. Curley’s wife, Crooks, Candy, all are alone in a way and try to cling to each other. They admire that Lennie and George are together as they seldom see men who are not alone. However, finally George is left alone too. They are all in need of someone to talk too. Friendship is explored well by the author who says that it goes beyond limits. Whereon one hand, George is so protective and caring for Lennie, it is he who kills him to free him of his own pain.
There are many many more allusions and concepts which are evoked as you read this beautifully written work and which I find impossible to write here all just now. It is a wonderful little book.