Summary: The book, Of Mice and Men, begins with the story of a troublesome duo, George and mentally challenged Lennie, traveling to look for work in California. Author, John Steinbeck, places this novel in the 1930s where migrant workers were a prevalent class in society. The ultimate goal of this duo is to own their own ranch one day. After George and Lennie narrowly escaped there last destination in Weed, they set up work at another ranch where they become acquainted to many of the ranch hands. Lennie has an obsession with soft items and often those items end up dead. They range from mice to dogs to hair to dresses. Upon meeting Curley's wife, George tells Lennie she is a tart and not to associate with him. Lennie follows his orders well, until one day in the barn, she shows up to give him company. They begin talking, and Lennie starts petting Curley's wife's hair. She tells him to let go, and he panics causing her to violently shake her, breaking her neck, and causing her death. Unfortunately, Curley or the other ranch hands will hear none of this murder. They set out to find Lennie and kill him. George, his only friend and companion feels it to be his duty to keep his innocence and kill Lennie while describing their dream ranch.

Description of Major Characters

George: George is Lennie best friend and only companion. His ultimate dream is to own his own ranch one day. He sometimes feels that the responsibilities of taking care of Lennie hurt his goal. He is a good man to Lennie and sticks up for him when he needs it. He sadly ends up killing Lennie instead of letting Curley get to him.

Lennie: Lennie is George's best companion. He is mentally challenged and needs George's assistance. He loves to pet soft things whether it be mice, dogs, or women's dresses. He got George and himself in trouble at the last ranch they worked at by grabbing onto a girl's dress. Lennie ends up killing Curley's wife, and in turn is shot in the back of the head by George out of an act of mercy.

Candy: Candy is an old ranch hand who feels useless because of his age. His old dog, and great companion, is shot by Carlson, who complains about the dog. He also offers to contribute to George and Lennie's dream ranch for a stake in it.

Curley: Curley is a cruel, young ranch hand whose father owns the ranch. He is unpleasant and brings trouble anywhere he goes. He picks a fight with Lennie, who ends up breaking his wrist. At the end of the novel, Curley chases after Lennie to try to kill him.

Curley's Wife: Curley's wife is not given a name. This is significant to show her place at the ranch. She is a pretty young girl who wears a lot of makeup. The ranch hands call her a tart. The audience later finds out that she is lonely and does not like her husband Curley. She flirts with Lennie at the barn and it results in her untimely death.

Slim: Slim is the most respected of the ranch hands. His advice is taken with great respect. He consoles George after he shoots Lennie.

Crooks: Crooks is a black ranch hand who is isolated from the other ranch hands. He has his own separate bunk house which Lennie stumbles into one night. Crooks talks to him about how companionships are absolutely needed in people's lives.


I liked that this book shows people that while you might have a disadvantage, there is always a disadvantage in other people. It shows that people need to look at the big picture in life, and this book does a great job subtly describing it. I also liked Steinbeck's idea that everyone needs a companion. We can all see that by looking at Crooks and George. Crooks lacks companions and George has Lennie. I also liked that this was not a "Disney ending" in which everyone lives happily ever after. It takes a more realistic approach to life. I did not like the fact that Steinbeck wrote little of Crooks. It would have been interesting to know more about Crooks' background and where he came from. Crooks was an understated character who should have received more attention.

What can we learn from reading this book?
From reading this book, we can learn many things about relationships and friendships. We learnt that no matter what, George is there for Lennie. Lennie may not know that he needs help in some situations, but George always does his best to help him out. He is a true friend to Lennie, and this is especially demonstrated when he shoots Lennie himself versus letting Curley shoot him. From Crooks, we learn that without companions and normal, everyday interactions with people, people become sad, depressed, and begin to feel useless. Crooks has a heart to heart talk with Lennie, although Lennie doesn't make many worthwhile contributions. Crooks makes a point that conversations like these are important for anyone to live a healthy life.

Answers to Essential Questions

What is meant by the American Dream? There American Dream is simply put as everyone has the same and equal opportunity to persue anything
that they desire. It is pictured as having a beautiful, happy family living in a cottage surrounded by a white picket fence.

Is the American Dream still a viable element today? The American Dream is certainly a viable element today. You see people living it everywhere. They can be the teachers who are truly satisfied with their life's work or the aspiring CEO who is content with the challenges that lie ahead.

Is the American Dream a destructive or empowering force, or a combination of both? When the ends determines the means in the American Dream, it can certainly become a destructive force. The fact that the American Dream is built around individual goals makes it empowering because there is always something to shoot for in life.

What constitutes a genuine friendship? A genuine friendship is acheived when the friends are both putting their best, genuine effort towards eachother. No matter what comes between two friends, they are always there for eachother and truly and unselfishly care about the other.