Of mice and men
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Of mice and men

Of Mice and Men

By John Steinback

Veronica Barone

Tyler Nelson

Annie Nigra


OF MICE AND MEN

MAJOR CHARACTERS

Lennie

Lennie is an extremely strong individual who has a slight mental disability. Because of this disability, he completely relies on his best friend George. Lennie loves to pet soft things. But due to his lack of understanding of his own strength, these small things tend to be crushed. Evidence being the rat, the puppy, Curley’s hand, and Curley’s wife. Lennie creates the climax in this novel by breaking Curley’s wife’s neck. Due to his disability, his best friend is forced to kill him.

George

George is a small man who possess a large intellect and a rather short temper. However, he cares deeply for his friend Lennie and tries to care for him as best as he can. Although he doesn’t always show it, George is always striving for and believing in his and Lennie’s dream to own a farm and be safe from the outside world. George is forced to shoot his best friend to save him from a painful and embarrassing death (lynching).


OF MICE AND MEN

PLOT SUMMARY

Two small town laborers , George and Lennie, are found walking to their next job. These two seem to be best friends, both benefitting from the other’s strengths. While the two talk, it appears that Lennie has a slight mental disability and depends on George as a child would depend on a father. They both aspire to one day own and tend their own farm, with rabbits for Lennie.

After camping out in the woods, the two find their worksite the next day. George tells Lennie that he will do all the talking because he is afraid of what the boss might say. As their day continues, they meet Candy and Curley, who both reside at the farm. When the two are alone, Curley’s wife starts to flirt with them, which is very dangerous because Curley is overprotective of his wife. George warns Lennie to stay away from her or else there will be trouble.

After this encounter, they meet Slim who is treated as a higher up due to his experience. After their first day, George lets Slim know that Lennie and him are childhood friends and that Lennie often gets into trouble. The reader learns that Lennie was accused of rape at their last job, but he was only trying to touch a woman’s dress. After some conversing, Slim gives Lennie a newborn puppy. After overhearing George and Lennie’s dream to own land and build a farm, Candy offers his entire life savings if he can live with them. After losing an argument, Curly starts a fight with Lennie. Not knowing his own strength, Lennie breaks Curley’s hand.


PLOT SUMMARY

continued

  • The next day, Lennie kills his new puppy on accident. Curley’s wife tries to comfort him. After some conversation, the wife lets Lennie know that she is disappointed in her marriage and tells him she always wanted to act. Lennie lets her know that he likes soft objects and she lets him feel her hair. He strokes her too hard and she screams. Trying to quiet her down, Lennie accidentally breaks her neck.

  • Scared, Lennie goes to the meeting place he is supposed to go to if he gets into trouble. George meets him there after he hears about the bad news. George does not seem to be angry at Lennie. To calm Lennie down, George tells him the story of the farm they will have. Hearing the angry mob get closer, George has no choice but to shoot his best friend in the head. When the mob finds them, George tells them that he fought the gun out of Lennie’s hands and shot him. Slim, being the only intelligent one, understands what really happens and leads George away.


Major themes
Major Themes

The American Dream-

Throughout the novel, George and Lennie cling to the dream of one day owning a small farm where they can be self-sufficient and free from harsh labor. When Candy and Crooks hear of this dream, they’re immediately drawn to it. All of these characters want to be self-sufficient and find brotherly companionship. This dream ends when Lennie dies.

Companionship and Friendship-

Candy, Crooks, Carlson, Slim, Curly, and Curly’s wife are all lonely characters. George and Lennie have the only real bond of friendship. Curly’s wife, Candy, and Crooks all talk about how lonely and empty their lives are. Crooks and Candy are drawn to the dream about the farm partially because they wish to create friendship. This dream ends with the farm when Lennie dies. By killing him, George proves that there is no way friendship and companionship can last in their world.


Major themes1
Major Themes

Discrimination-

Women are viewed as evil temptresses in this book. Curly’s wife is painted as a taboo tramp, while she is really only reaching out for friendship because she is so lonely. The only other women mentioned in the book are prostitutes, who waste the men’s hard earned money. Women are seen here as corrupting, tricky, and evil. There is also a great deal of racism towards Crooks, the only black man on the farm, who is not allowed to enter the barracks because of his skin color. Both Crooks and Candy are singled out for being cripple.

Weak vs. Strong

Crooks and Candy know that they are disposable because they are cripples. They worry that one day the boss will fire them and they’ll have no place to go. Lennie displays this theme the best. He is unable to control his brute strength, killing mice, his puppy, and eventually Curly’s wife. While he means no harm, his physical strength continually beats his very weak mind. Even Candy’s dog, when he become weak and old, is killed because he is disposable and useless.


Social historical relevance
Social/Historical Relevance

  • The book took place in the 1930’s in California. Its relevance to history is that it was during the Great Depression when Americans were struggling to find and keep jobs. That is why it is so important that George and Lennie keep this job at the farm. The Great Depression influences the characters by not making them financially stable enough to own the land that they dream about.


Literary devices style
Literary Devices/Style

  • Symbols:

    • The land that George and Lennie want to buy- The American Dream, what keeps the two together

    • The clearing in the woods- A familiar, comfortable place removed from main action. The beginning and end of the story occur here.

    • Curley’s wife- sin, temptation, and death

    • Mice- false hope, the fact that Lennie will end up killing something he enjoys

    • George and Lennie’s bean dinner in the woods – communion showing their bond

  • Climax- when Lennie is in the barn with Curely’s wife and accidentally kills her

  • Foreshadowing- Lennie killing the mouse in his pocket, the killing of Candy’s dog by being shot in the head, when Lennie kills the puppy because he doesn’t know his own strength, George and Lennie running way form their previous town because they trouble Lennie got in.

  • Falling action- when the men discover the dead body and go looking for Lennie

    George is the first to find him and kills him himself

Style of writing:

Simple, omniscient, and colloquial Ex: George went on. “With us it ain’t like that. We got a future.”


Evaluation of novel
Evaluation of novel

  • This novel was an entertaining short story. The major themes and symbols were easy to pick up on because they were repeated a lot throughout the story. Because the story was written in an omniscient, colloquial style, the story was easy to read and comprehend. Unlike Heart of Darkness which was full of difficult vocabulary and complex syntax, Of Mice and Men had very simple syntax that made the book enjoyable. Because it was not difficult to comprehend the plot, picking out themes, symbols, and literary devices was easy and actually kind of fun.


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