We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

Of Mice and Men revision

The whole doc is available only for registered users

A limited time offer! Get a custom sample essay written according to your requirements urgent 3h delivery guaranteed

Order Now

Of Mice and Men is written against the backdrop of a troubled America The Great Depression began in 1929 – lasted 10 years. Severe economic slump. Businesses lost everything meaning mass unemployment. (25% of population unemployed.) Terrible drought lasting 10 years hit 27 states and meant farmland became a dustbowl. Many farmers lost their land or had to sell it cheaply.

Farmers had to travel to look for work (economic migrants)
As there were lots of desperate workers, employers at ranches exploited them by offering very low wages. Workers slept in barns known as bunkhouses.
Mechanisation meant fewer jobs.
Racial segregation a fact of life.

The American Dream

“The American Dream is that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement.” It basically was the belief that every (white person) in America had the right to: Property

In ‘Of Mice and Men’, this idea of the ‘American Dream’ is questioned and scrutinised. Is it really the land of opportunity and freedom for everyone, or is this all a lie or dream that will never happen?

George and Lennie’s American Dream:

Unlike others on the ranch, George and Lennie dream of escape and a different future. Lennie enjoys George telling him about ‘how it will be’, even though he has heard it many times before. George does this both in the opening chapter and the final chapter, which shows how important it is.

To “live off the fatta the lan”
To own and their own farm, living of the produce
To be their own boss
To have control over what they do and when they do it
To have somewhere they can call home.
To be free to have rabbits

Their dream represents hope of a better life. During the novel, other characters begin to believe in this dream. But does the author ultimately believe that their dream is achievable?

Chapter summary
Chapter 1 – The pool and George and Lennie
Thursday night
Opening description of George and Lennie, economic migrants who are making their way to a new job on a ranch. They pause a pool, surrounded by sycamore trees and stay the night. We learn that George looks after Lennie, stopping him from drinking the dirty water and insisting that he puts down the dead mouse he is petting. Lennie is childlike and looks up to George, who can get frustrated about his responsibility. There are hints at why the pair had to leave Weed, the last town they were in, and that Lennie’s behaviour is to blame. There is also the first mention of George and Lennie’s dream: to run their own farm and “live off the fatta the lan”. George instructs Lennie to return to this place if they get into trouble and not to speak to the Boss the next day.

Chapter 2 – The bunkhouse and the other characters
Arrive Friday morning
George and Lennie arrive on the ranch and there is a description of the bunkhouse where the workers must sleep. The first person they meet is Candy (the old Swamper), an old, gossipy cleaner with only one hand and an old smelly dog, who tells them a bit about the running of the ranch. The Boss then speaks to them. He is angry that they did not arrive earlier and suspicious about George speaking for Lennie, thinking he might have a “stake” in him. Curley, the boss’ aggressive son is then introduced. He is looking for his wife and takes an instant dislike to Lennie because of his size. Candy tells them that Curley is a boxer and “pretty handy” and that his wife is “purty” and has “got the eye”, flirting with the other workers.

George is worried that these people might cause problems for them and warns Lennie to stay away from them and remind him to run away to the “brush by the river.” Next Curley’s wife comes in. True to Candy’s description, she is flirtatious and attention seeking in her dress. She leaves when she finds out her husband is looking for her. Slim, the jerkline skinner, is then described. The opposite of Curley, he is clam, friendly and well respected, the “prince of the ranch” with natural authority and George immediately opens up to him. Finally, Carlson, another worker is introduced. Chatty but insensitive, he suggests that Candy’s dog be replaced with one of Slim’s puppies. Lennie hopes that Slim might give him one too.

Chapter 3 – Shooting Candy’s dog and Lennie’s fight
Friday evening
George tells Slim about his and Lennie’s friendship and how they came to travel together. He shares the reason they left Weed: that Lennie had been accused of attacking a girl whose dress he had touched, that he had panicked when she started screaming and wouldn’t let go. Lennie pets the puppy Slim has given him and George warns him to be gentle. Carlson complains about Candy’s dog and suggests they shoot it, much to Candy’s distress. Whit, another worker shows an article published in a magazine by a man they used to work with. They are all impressed that his ‘dream’ of having a letter published has been realised. Carlson, intent on getting rid of the smell, gains permission form Slim and a reluctant Candy to shoot his dog.

As the men play cards, the shot is heard. Whit gossips about Curley and his wife, saying she is “jail bait”. He suggests they go visit the brothel – Susy’s – the next night. George says he will go for a drink, but is trying to save. George and Lennie discuss their ‘dream’ and the farm they will build with their savings. Candy, silent since the death of his dog asks if he could join them if he gives them his savings too. Excitedly, they discuss the freedom this would bring. Slim returns to the bunkhouse, followed by an angry Curley, who immediately picks a fight with Lennie. On George’s orders, Lennie fights back, crushing Curley’s hand. Slim tells Curley, that to save his reputation and Lennie’s job, they will say his hand got caught in a machine.

Chapter 4 – Crooks, and Curley’s Wife’s threats
Saturday evening
Crooks, the black stable buck, and his living quarters in the barn is described. Lennie interrupts him when visiting his puppy. Crooks is initially defensive and aggressive telling him to leave. He then delights in teasing Lennie, suggesting that George – who has gone to Susy’ with the others – will not come back. When Lennie gets angry, Crooks backs down. Lennie tells Crooks about the dream. Crooks dismisses it at first, but when Candy enters and insists it will happen, he realises they are serious and asks if he could be a part of it too. As they discuss their future, Curley’s wife comes in. When they ask her to leave, she turns on Crooks, warning him that he should know his place and that she could get him “strung up” or lynched. Defeated, Crooks tells Lennie and Candy to forget about including him in their plans.

Chapter 5 – Lennie kills Curley’s wife
Sunday afternoon
In the barn, Lennie sits with his puppy who he has accidentally killed. He feels both angry with the puppy for dying and guilty that he has done another “bad thing”. Curley’s wife enters the barn. Craving attention and company, she flirts with Lennie and tells him all about herself: her feelings about her marriage, her regrets and her past. She invites him to stroke her hair, which he does. However, unhappy about his roughness she pulls away. Like in Weed, Lennie panics and grabs hold of her and ends up killing her. He half buries her in the hay and remembering George’s instructions, runs off to the brush. Candy discovers the body and rushes to tell George. George realises what has happened and takes Carlson’s Lugar (gun). The others arrive and, led by Curley, organise a party to hunt Lennie down. Candy is distraught that the dream is now over.

Chapter 6 – George shoots Lennie
Lennie hides in the ‘brush’ by the pool. He imagines he is speaking to his Aunt Clara and that she is telling him off and lecturing him on how he has let George down. He then imagines a gigantic rabbit is talking to him, teasing him about how he is not fit to look after rabbits and that George will leave him. George arrives in a solemn mood. He speaks quietly to Lennie and asks him to remove his hat. He asks him to face away and look out over the pool as he tells him, for the final time about the dream. Hearing Curley’s gang approaching, George shoots Lennie. When the others arrive, Slim is sympathetic and understanding towards George. Carlson however cannot understand why they are upset.

George and Lennie’s American Dream:

Unlike others on the ranch, George and Lennie dream of escape and a different future. Lennie enjoys George telling him about ‘how it will be’, even though he has heard it many times before. George does this both in the opening chapter and the final chapter, which shows how important it is.

To “live off the fatta the lan”
To own and their own farm, living of the produce
To be their own boss
To have control over what they do and when they do it
To have somewhere they can call home.
To be free to have rabbits

Their dream represents hope of a better life. During the novel, other characters begin to believe in this dream. But does the author ultimately believe that their dream is achievable?

Significant locations

The Ranch and the bunkhouse
-A very male dominated and physical environment.
Bare, uncomfortable, sparse, lacks privacy, basic accommodation, unhygienic, bunkhouse is dark, no curtains, dusty, functional rather than homely, temporary, communal. -The workers, on the whole, are not treated well. Remember, the Great Depression meant that there was little spare cash and employers had the upper hand as jobs were hard to come by. Workers, like George and Lennie, had to put up with poor conditions as they had few alternatives for employment. -It is often insensitive and hostile.

For example, Candy worries that he will be sacked soon due to his age, even though he has been on the ranch a long time; Curley’s wife threatens Crooks with lynching; Lennie worries about the threat of physical violence from Curley; Carlson is unsympathetic when he shoots Candy’s dog; they organise a lynch mob to catch Lennie. -It is a divided environment too: Crooks sleeps separately in the stable because he is black; Curley’s wife is not expected to socialise with the men; Lennie, Candy and Crooks get left behind when the others go for a drink in town; Curley has more power as he is the bosses son. It is also divided as George and Lennie are their own unit; they care for each other and look out for each other whilst the others look after themselves. -In the ranch environment, relationships are temporary and can be superficial, rarely based on respect or love. Consider Curley’s unstable relationship with his wife; the way the workers go to a brothel rather than engage in a meaningful relationship and characters’ surprise that George and Lennie look out for each other.

The pool in the brush

-This is where the novel starts and where it ends. Surrounded by sycamore trees and formed by the Salinas river, this is a private and peaceful haven away from the pressures and problems of ranch life. It is a place that, although used by man (“there is an ash pile made by many fires”), has not been taken over by man. There are “tracks of deer”, and “’coons”, “rabbits”, “deer”, wild “dogs” and a “heron”. -George tells Lennie to come here and hide if something bad happens, which in chapter 6 he does. The start of the last chapter mirrors the opening of the first chapter. This creates a cyclical pattern (a cycle). This might suggest that Lennie’s fate was unavoidable; that what happened was inevitable and that this cycle could not have been broken (even by their hopes and dreams). This could also be the author’s way of saying that workers in George and Lennie’s position will never escape their place at the bottom of the heap. (Another example of this cyclical pattern is in chapter 5, where Lennie kills Curley’s wife. It starts and ends with a description of the stable, again, suggesting that perhaps events are inevitable)

Key pages: 19-35, 66-7, 84-5, 131, 144-149,

Small, sharp, quick, clever.
Looks after and out for Lennie, almost fatherly.
Suspicious and private
Can be frustrated and impatient with Lennie; cruel almost. Stifled by having to be his ‘keeper’. Has a temper. Reads situations well. Understands dangers and a quick judge of character.

Key pages: 19-35, 69, 84-5, 91-4, 100-105, 120-128, 141-147

Big, heavy, strong. Physically and mentally the opposite of George. Childlike and ‘simple’.
Doesn’t understand the world very well – this, and his strength can get him into trouble. Looks up to George – follows his every word and tries to mimic his behaviour. Often compared to an animal.

Dream is to live on own farm with George, looking after the rabbits. Loves: keeping mice, bunnies, puppies, pretty women.
Panics when in trouble

The Boss
Key pages: 41-44,

Dresses differently from the ranch hands to show his position (hat, spurred
boots) Candy says he was angry when George and Lennie didn’t arrive on time, but also that he is fair and can be quite generous (whiskey for the workers at Christmas) Suspicious of George and Lennie – puts them on the spot

Firm and doesn’t take any nonsense – knows he has power

The Old Swamper / Candy
Key pages: 38 -41, 45-6, 75-6, 87-9, 107-116, 131-2

Old, weak, does the cleaning as not strong enough to work on fields, loves his dog (which Carlson shoots), is not equal to the other ranch hands due to age. Takes an interest in George and Lennie when they arrive, friendly, lets them in on ranch ‘gossip’, seems to know everything that’s going on. Wants to be included in George and Lennie’s dream as knows that ‘time is up’ on ranch for him and he may be sacked, has savings to help him pay his way.

Key pages: 46-7, 59, 90-2,133-135

The Boss’ son, recently married, differently dressed from other ranch hands to show his status. Highly strung and very aggressive, takes an instant dislike o Lennie as he is big (Curley is small), boxes well, rude and throws his weight around on the ranch, disliked by the other ranch hands (who joke about how he is with his wife), not respected Paranoid and jealous about his wife (rightly so)

Curley’s Wife
Key pages: 49, 53-4, 78,109-115,122-128

Tarty, flirty, inappropriate
Nervous about Curley finding her in the bunkhouse, has an unhappy marriage The only woman on the ranch; isolated and lonely, craves (male) attention Can be cruel and ruthless (eg with Crooks)
Had dreams of being an actress; married Curley to escape paraents Tragic figure?

Key pages: 55-6, 64-68, 133-135, 148

Respected, wise, trustworthy
Head of the team on the ranch (looked up to as a natural leader, unlike Curley) Welcoming to newcomers, fair, good judge of character and situation Calm, patient, measured, good listener

Key pages: 57, 58, 70-5, 149

Worker on the ranch
Can lack sensitivity and understanding (the way he handles Candy’s dog issue) A product of his environment

The Stable Buck / Crooks
Key pages: 98-116,

Black ( a victim of racial segregation on the ranch, though had grown up in a mixed race community on his father’s own farm) Crippled
Proud, educated, protective of himself and his room (doesn’t sleep in the bunkhouse with the others) Job is to look after the horses
Can be cruel, bitter and callous (eg his torment of Lennie)
At first, doesn’t believe in George and Lennie’s dream, then overcomes his pride and fear of rejection by asking to be part of it.

Essay questions
*Refer closely to the text (short quotes, specific details)
*Plan carefully so it will be structured
*Make sure you focus your answer on the question (WWF) and, if applicable, the right character / chapter

1 What contribution does Crooks make to the novel? (Substitute any characters name for revision)
2 How does the author show that the ranch can be a difficult place?
3 Lennie is the character that most deserves our sympathy. Discuss.
4 How does the author show that Curley is an unsympathetic character?
5 Discuss the importance of dreams in the novel.
6 Of Mice and Men is a novel about broken hope and a broken America. To what extent do you agree?
7 Which character do you think most deserves our sympathy?
8 Lennie’s fate is inevitable. How far do you agree with this statement?
9 Is George the hero of the novel?
10 Discuss the theme of friendship in the novel.
11 Curley’s Wife is treated unfairly by both the other characters and the author. How far would you agree.
12 Lennie is a tragic figure. Discuss.
13 How is power an important theme in the novel?
14 Write about the theme of prejudice, saying how it is presented in the ways different characters behave.

Diary ‘essays’
*Write as if you are the character
*Include details of the events, and your thoughts and feelings *Try to use words/expressions they would use

15 Imagine you are George. Write a diary entry reflecting on events that have happened.
16 Imagine you are Crooks. Write a diary entry reflecting on the events of chapter 4.
17 Imagine you are Slim. Write a diary entry reflecting your first impressions of George and Lennie after they arrive at the ranch.
18 Imagine you are Curley’s wife. Write a diary entry reflecting your experience of life at the ranch.
19 Imagine you are Candy. Write a diary entry reflecting on the events of chapter 3.
20 Imagine you are Lennie at the end of chapter 3. Write a diary entry giving your thoughts on life at the ranch and your feeling about the other characters.

Related Topics

We can write a custom essay

According to Your Specific Requirements

Order an essay
Materials Daily
100,000+ Subjects
2000+ Topics
Free Plagiarism
All Materials
are Cataloged Well

Sorry, but copying text is forbidden on this website. If you need this or any other sample, we can send it to you via email.

By clicking "SEND", you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy. We'll occasionally send you account related and promo emails.
Sorry, but only registered users have full access

How about getting this access

Your Answer Is Very Helpful For Us
Thank You A Lot!


Emma Taylor


Hi there!
Would you like to get such a paper?
How about getting a customized one?

Can't find What you were Looking for?

Get access to our huge, continuously updated knowledge base

The next update will be in:
14 : 59 : 59