The literary power of Of Mice and Men rest firmly on the relationship between the two central characters, their friendship and their shared dream. These two men are so very different, but they come together, stay together, and support each other in a world full of people who are destitute and alone. Their brotherhood and fellowship is an achievement of enormous humanity.
They sincerely believe in their dream. All they want is a small piece of land that they can call their own. They want to grow their own crops, and they want to breed rabbits. That dream cements their relationship and strikes a chord so convincingly for the reader. George and Lennie's dream is the American dream. Their desires are both very particular to the 1930's but also universal.
This play-like structure allowed the work to be quickly adapted to the stage, with the first production mounted on Broadway in 1937, the year of the novel's publication. This production was quite successful, and was directed by the famous playwright George S. Kaufman. The play was revived in 1974 with James Earl Jones in the role of Lennie. Of Mice and Men has also been frequently adapted into cinema - first in 1939, in a production directed by Lewis Milestone (who regularly and skillfully directed adaptations of literary works, including All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)), with Lon Chaney, Jr. and Lennie and Burgess Merideth as George. Most recently the novel was adapted in 1992, with Gary Sinise playing George and John Malkovich in the role of Lennie. This version was well-received by critics and regularly supplements high school English class units on the novel.