Written by American author John Steinbeck
Written by American author John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men was first published in 1937. The title of the book comes from a poem by the 18th- century Scottish poet Robbie Burns. It is about a mouse which carefully builds a winter nest in a wheat field, only for it to be destroyed by a ploughman. There is a parallel here with George and Lennie’s joyful fantasy of a farm of their own and its all-too-predictable destruction at the end of the story. Perhaps these also meant to suggest to us how unpredictable our lives are, and how vulnerable to tragedy. The novel is set in a place called Soledad, (a Spanish word meaning solitude or loneliness) in California. The structure of Mice and Men is cyclical – there is a sense of things happening in a certain order and being repeated. This is reflected in the way that the book starts and ends in the same place – the brush by the Salinas River. This gives the reader the impression that the ending is inevitable and nothing can be done to stop it. The sense of repetition created through this element of the structure also creates a sense of hopelessness for the reader, reflecting the lack of choices that itinerant workers like George would have had at the time. The men’s lives are also repetitive and it is only the American dream that gives them any hope of changing this cycle, however, Steinbeck shows at the end that even this dream is pointless. Death is present throughout the novella, from the very beginning where Lennie is carrying a mouse that he has accidentally killed to the very end when he kills Curley’s wife. Lennie’s lack of awareness of his ability to cause harm is presented as being a problem straight away and this escalates: first, he kills a mouse, then a puppy, then finally Curley’s wife. His inability to control himself when panicked is also revealed at different stages (George describes when Lennie grabbed a girl’s dress in Weed and then Lennie crushes Curley’s hand when attacked), adding to the sense that he will inevitably cause destruction. The increasing violence in Of Mice and Men foreshadows the tragic events at the end. Life is not valued in the book; Lennie accidentally kills the pets and Candy’s dog is shot by Carlson when he is no longer useful. The title itself foreshadows the characters’ unhappiness at the end of the book, as it provides a warning that things will not work out for the characters as they hope. On October 29 1929, millions of dollars were wiped out in an event that became known as the Wall Street Crash. It led to the Depression in America which crippled the country from 1930 – 1936. People lost their life savings when firms and banks went bust, and 12 – 15 million men and women – one-third of America’s population – were unemployed.George Milton; He is a small man, but has brains and a quick wit. He has been a good friend to Lennie, ever since he promised Lennie’s Aunt Clara that he would care for him, He looks after all Lennie’s affairs, such as carrying his work card and tries to steer him out of potential trouble. “You gonna have trouble with that Curley guy” Tells us about his wisdom and his ability to judge people. This also foreshadows the future. Friendly advice to try to help Lennie.
“Get `I’m, Lennie” Command to Lennie. it is like a command to an animal and the shortness of the sentence also emphasizes this.
Lennie Small; He is a big man, in contrast to his name. He has limited intelligence, so he relies on George to look after him. He copies George in everything George does and trusts George completely. “Behind him (George) walked his opposite, a huge man, shapeless of face, with large, then the le the eyes, with wide, sloping shoulders; and he walked heavily, dragging his feet a little, the way a bear drags his paws. His arms did not swing at his sides, but hung loosely.” He shares a dream with George to own a piece of land. Lennie’s special job would be to tend the rabbits He likes to pet soft things, like puppies and dead mice. We know this got him into trouble in Weed when he tried to feel a girl’s soft red dress: she thought he was going to attack her. He can be forgetful – George continually has to remind him about important things. He is very gentle and kind, and would never harm anyone or anything deliberately. He is extremely strong: he can work as well as two men at bucking barley. He is often described as a child or an animal -, he, drinks from the pool like a horse and his huge hands are described as paws. “Because I got you to look after me, and you got me to look after you”
Not many people had real friends in the American West in the 1930s – it was a case of every man for himself. That is one of the reasons why the story of George and Lennie’s unusual friendship is so poignant. They have each other. No one else in the novel is so lucky. In the novel, George Melton is present as Small & quick. Strong hands and a thin, bony nose. George is a protective man, who has been caring for his friend Lennie for a long time. The two men are not related but have been friends since they were children, so as well as enjoying his company, George also feels responsible for his welfare. George often talks to Lennie about their dream. Due to Lennie’s mental disability, George has to take responsibility for him and finds this stressful and frustrating at times, due to Lennie getting into trouble. This results in outbursts of anger towards Lennie at certain points in the novel, although George regrets these quickly. George recognizes that his friendship with Lennie is special because men like George would not have had friendships due to moving around so much for work; it would have been very unusual for two men to travel around together due to work being scarce. George is a small, quick-witted man; his intelligence contrasts with Lennie’s throughout the book; as does his size. George often has to think quickly in order to cover up for Lennie’s mistakes. Who is Lennie small, well in the novel he is presented as Lennie is George’s friend and the two travel together Lennie has a mental disability, making him dependent upon George to manage the day to day life in the difficult environment in which they live and work. Lennie is physically very strong (so his name is ironic), but cannot control himself, leading to escalating acts of accidental violence through the book. He is obsessed with stroking soft things, such as animal fur. This starts with mice, which he kills, then leads to his puppy, which he also kills, before the tragic death of Curley’s wife when he strokes her hair. He does not mean to cause harm but is not aware of his own physical power. Lennie is very innocent and sweet-natured; he always means well and is focused on simple pleasures, which his dream with George reminds the reader of. He lacks awareness of social conventions and so does not feel the same racism and prejudice against women that many of the other male characters feel. Lennie only gets angry or aggressive when he feels that his friendship with George is threatened. When discussing the relationship between George and Lennie, a variety of words can be used such as familial bond, companionship and the reason is the relationship between George and Lennie is complicated, Lennie thinks of George as his companion his friend while George, on the other hand, think of Lennie as his small brother, but most importantly he needs because of his physical strength which makes him a good farmer. As friends, Lennie Small and George Milton are misfits, both physically and mentally; and, yet, each is dependent upon the other. However, this dependence creates a certain anxiety.
“I could get along so easy and so nice if I didn’t have you on my tail. I could live so easy and maybe have a girl.”
As he prepares the meal for them, Lennie asks for ketchup that George does not have. When George becomes angry, Lennie says that he will go away and live in a cave or somewhere. But of course, Lennie cannot live by himself, so George has to appease him. Of course, George is always worried that Lennie will overpower the other bindle-stiffs, so he cautions the big man about staying out of trouble. When Curley’s wife stands seductively in the doorway, George takes him by the ear exhorting him, “…She’s a rat trap if I ever saw one.” But, Lennie protests, saying he has not done anything, and he wants to leave, “I don’ like this place, George. This ain’t no good place.” When he pets the puppy given him by Slim, he accidentally kills it. Then, he is anxious about what George will say, “I done a bad thing… George ain’t gonna let me tend no rabbits now.” Later, when he inadvertently chokes Curley’s wife, Lennie becomes extremely anxious about George’s response. knowing his action is a repeat of what had happened in Weed.
George: Compelled to care for Lennie out of a sense of obligation because the man’s aunt has died, George resents Lennie at times; however, even in his irritations at Lennie’s repeatedly asking for a repetition of the dream of owning a farm of their own, George begins to believe in this dream. However, his mistrust of others and anxieties prevent him from letting Lennie really enjoy himself. Instead, he feels the need to scold the big man. When he talks with Slim about Lennie, George explains their friendship in somewhat negative terms which hides the real camaraderie they share,
“‘Course Lennie’s a god damn nuisance most of the time…But you get used to going n’ around with a guy an’ you can’t get rid of him.”
Further, George mentions how he used to tease Lennie until the man nearly drowned. Then, he stopped. Thus, in their relationship, George and Lennie both have feelings of anxiety and negativity toward each other either and Lennie stand out because of their friendship
How does Steinbeck show this?
George and Lennie are the only characters in the novel who have a meaningful relationship. This makes them unique and draws attention to the loneliness of the rest of the characters in the book.
They had walked in single file down the path, and even in the open one stayed behind the other. Both were dressed in denim trousers and in denim coats with brass buttons. Both wore black, shapeless hats and both carried tight blanket rolls slung over their shoulders. This is our first introduction to Lennie and George. On the one hand, we know right away that they’re not equals: one man is walking behind another. On the other hand, they’re dressed identically. Is this a relationship of equals? Or is inequality always a part of friendships?
“Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world. They got no family. They don’t belong to any place… With us, it ain’t like that. We got a future. We got somebody to talk to that gives a damn about us.”
By comparing their situation with others’, George demonstrates that they are very unusual. George uses the pronouns they and we to emphasise how different he and Lennie are from other men who work on ranches from disparagement or fear. This negativity often arises from their alienation and loneliness, which ironically, unites them as well by the hope that their dream of a farm affords them. On Sunday, Lennie accidentally kills a puppy that he has been given by Slim, the leader of a grain team. While he is trying to hide the puppy in the barn, Curley’s wife joins him. She talks to him and invites him to stroke her hair. While doing this, he unintentionally kills her by breaking her neck then runs away.
Curley’s wife’s body is found by Candy. He alerts the other men who go out to look for Lennie with guns, planning to shoot him. George finds him first (in the place they camped at the start of the book) and Lennie asks to repeat the American dream and Lennie tells him to look towards the corner so u can almost imagine it and then George starts to tell Lennie about their American dream and shoots him in the back of the head. For evaluating the ending it made a very big impact on George but on the other hand this was the only option he had, he was forced to kill his friend because if he didn’t Curley and the ranch workers will eventually capture and torture him, this made George very sad that he lost his friend but he was also felt comfortable that he saved from being tortured and personally , I think it’s easier to see your friend dead than being tortured specially if he is being tortured by others , I felt that George has done right thing which was saving Lennie from being tortured by Curley and the ranch workers but still Lennie didn’t achieve his American dream and Overall, I think it was a very meaningful section of the book. It was sad but it was fitting to the whole story. If it ended any other way, I wouldn’t feel that the book was as great as it is with the current ending. The feelings that it caused made it a more powerful book. I think Steinbeck chose the ending of this novel to show the sacrifices u can make for others especially for the people u love whom u care about.My overall point is that, in this novella, Steinbeck was able to show the relationship between two ranch workers in contrast to other ranch workers