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Of Mice and Men
Of Mice and Men, written by John Steinbeck, is the story of two simple farm hands,
Lennie Small, who incidentally, really isn’t very small, and his better half, George Milton, on
their quest to have "a place of their own," with plenty of furry bunnies, of course. Sound
strange? Read on to get clued in.
The book opens along the banks of the Salinas River a few miles south of Soledad,
California. Everything is calm and beautiful, and nature is alive. The trees are green and fresh,
lizards are skittering along, rabbits sit on the sand. There are no people in the scene. Suddenly,
the calm is broken. Trouble is in the air. Animals begin to scatter. Two men have arrived on
the scene, and the environment seems troubled by their presence. For a moment the scene
becomes "lifeless." Then in walk George and Lennie.
Lennie, a large, retarded, big man who has the mind of a little child, and who loves to pet
soft, pretty things, and George, a little man, who has assumed the responsibility of taking care of
his simpleminded friend Lennie, are walking on their way to apply for a harvesting job on a
nearby farm. The two had been traveling together for quite some time now, which was very rare,
because most farm workers rarely have companions, but George and Lennie have been together
ever since Lennie’s Aunt had passed away, and Lennie began to follow George around
Instead of hurrying to the farm that night, they stop by a stream to camp in the open, and
they’ll arrive at work the next morning. Why? Well, Lennie isn’t very bright. George didn’t want
him to blow the job opportunity. The logic between waiting until morning until going to work was,
that way, all the other farm hands would be out working, thus they’d have a better chance of
getting the job, since Lennie wouldn’t have to confront to many
people, which can easily make him "confused."
During that evening, George had to take a dead mouse away from Lennie, who had been
hoarding it because he liked to pet it. George tried to teach simpleminded Lennie that you don’t
pet dead things, but Lennie had a hard time remembering.
George is aware that Lennie has difficulty remembering things, so he has to remind him
every time that they went for a job not to say anything, and to let him do the talking. He also
stresses the importance that Lennie returns to the particular place and hide in the stream or
bushes if gets in any trouble, which plays an important role later on in the story. Also in the
forest, we here the story of living "off the fatta’ the land," for the first time. They dreamed of one
day having a place of their very own, in which Lennie could tend to as many bunnies as he would
like. Lennie was apparently obsessed with this dream, because all throughout the book, he nags
George to repeat the story over and over, like a child.
The next morning during the job interview, the boss of the farm becomes suspicous
when George answers every question for Lennie. George told him of the situation, how he isn’t
very smart, but he makes sure the boss realizes that he is an excellent worker. The boss is a
little suspicious, and believes that George is taking advantage of Lennie, so he had to lie,
and he told the boss that they were cousins, in order to get rid of any suspicion. Then they were
That night in the bunkhouse, which is were Lennie and George were staying, there is a
conflict over whether or not the old dog which Candy, an old crippled farm hand, owned should
be killed or not, because it smelled so terrible. After much argument, Candy agrees to let
Carlson, another farm hand, kill the old dog. After making sure that the dog had his head turned,
Carlson shot him. Candy later regrets letting someone else shoot his own dog like that, and
wishes he would have put him out of his misery himself. This is foreshadowing an event that
takes place with Lennie and George later in the book…
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