The book is a wonderful compilation of myriad metaphors and parallels. The cheese, Cheese (with a ‘C’), maze, jogging suit & shoes, little people, mice and the incidents are very well thought about and presented. On a high level, the book deals with the various ways in which people respond to an unforeseen and unkind change introduced into their lives. The story is about different types of responses to change and what could be the result of each one of them.
The characters are metaphors to broadly two types of people. The littlepeople signify the type that are meticulous, upholding special belief and yearn for special treatment/behavior (Cheese). The other type, Mice – are those people who are the undemanding and instinctive type who do not overcomplicate things.
Both the types of people go out in the world (maze) and have created a lifestyle of their own. The world they live is similar to the real world. Both have dark and unknown corners and both have alleys that hold promises.
What happens when a significant change is introduced into their world forms the crux of the story.
I think mice are the metaphors for The proletariat/blue collared workers who respond to the things in their life instinctaneously. These are the people who usually do not crib and are not hesitant to change instantly. Before the change was introduced,
They had their skills intact and close by (jogging suit and shoes)
Frequently sniffed (checked for changes/modifications in their environment)
When they were exposed to the change,
They acknowledged the change
They decided to move on (almost instantaneously)
They did not spend time analyzing what went wrong and how to fix it
It is also noteworthy that they did not make any effort to restore their life back to normalcy. They decided to leave things as such and move on. Moreover, start new things from scratch.
I believe that littlepeople are metaphors for White collared workers/middle level managers. They are typically the people who carry a pre notion of all things. They are also the ones who are more likely to demand things in a certain way always. They are also hesitant to change their belief system even in the case of clear evidence. Before the change was introduced, these people,
Let go of their skills (Complacent)
Did not foresee the things to come
Were not prepared for any change
When the change was introduced,
They went into a denial mode
Cried foul (believed that they deserved better)
Expected the things to return back to normalcy
Hesitant/fearful to change
Suffered from inaction.
Even though the mice and littlepeople had the same lifestyle and lived in the same maze, their attitude and outlook towards change and self-adaptation yielded different results. This book, written in such a metaphoric manner will certainly have many interpretations. I think that it teaches the following lessons,
Sense your environment for changes constantly
Do not be denial of changes. They are bound to happen
Accept them and work to change yourself
Help others during the change