Of Mice and Men
Of Mice and Men, Written by John Steinbeck is the story of George and Lennie, two impoverished American migrant workers, working on a farm in California during the depression Era. George is a small man with sharp, strong, features and an intellect one could utilize the same adjectives for. Lennie is the opposite: a huge man with a small brain. As the two first converse it is plainly obvious that Lennie has a slight mental disability; but like a big, loyal dog, Lenny is dedicated and deeply connected to George, on whom he often depends for protection and guidance. George constantly complains that his life would be much easier without Lennie, but it is easily understood that that is just part of the man’s character and that their friendship and devotion is mutual. George and Lennie share a dream of buying their own land, well, Lennie mostly just likes to talk about the rabbits they’ll breed and how he’ll hold them and pet them (Lennie really likes to pet soft things). George is often compelled by Lennie to tell him the story of what life will be like in their own place, but much like a child, the only thing he really wants to hear about is the rabbits, as he oft interrupts with: “ Tell me about them rabbits George” whenever George begins to relate the story.
When they show up to their first day of work George insists on doing all the talking. He explains to the new boss that they travel together because they are cousins and that a horse kicked Lennie in the head when he was a child. At the farm working alongside them is Candy, an old handyman, with a missing hand and an old dog. Curley, the son of the ranch owner is an arrogant young man who is newly married, and extremely possessive of his wife. Once George and Lennie are alone in their new living arrangements on the ranch, Curley’s cute wife appears and starts to flirt with them. Lennie thinks that she is cute, but George immediately detects the trouble that this woman and her husband could bring upon them, so he immediately and authoritatively warns Lennie to keep away. Then George and Lennie meet Slim, a mule driver who exerts great authority at the Ranch. Carlson, another ranch-hand, suggests that Slim should offer one of his new pups to Candy (as Slim’s dog just gave birth to a new litter), and then they should shoot Candy’s old dog, who he says is useless.
The next day, George tells Slim that he and Lennie are not really cousins, but have been friends since childhood. He confides to Slim that Lennie has often gotten them into a lot of trouble. They were forced to flee from their last job because Lennie tried to touch a woman’s dress (again, he really likes soft things) and Lennie was accused of rape. Slim, therefore, commits to giving Lennie one of his new pups.
Curley, who is a bit paranoid, is searching for his wife, and goes to the barn to harass Slim. Candy hears George and Lennie discuss their plans to buy land and offers up his own life savings, because he no longer wishes to live there (earlier they convinced him the best thing to do was to put down his dog, which of course made him sad). The trio make a pact to keep their plan to move in together a secret. Slim returns to the shack, Curley is trying to pick a fight because of his suspicions of infidelity, finding Lennie to be an easy target of his wrath, he instead picks a fight with him. Lennie, possessing enormous strength, crushes Curley’s hand in the altercation. Slim warns Curley that if he tries to get George and Lennie fired, he’ll tell what really happened and be the laughing stock of the farm.
The next night, the ranch hands go to the local brothel. Lennie is left alone with Crooks, a stable-hand. Curley’s wife comes in and starts to flirt with them
The next day, Lennie accidentally kills the puppy Slim had just given him. Curley’s wife comes in to comfort him. Lennie tells her that he loves stroking soft things, so she offers up her soft hair for him to touch. When he grabs her hair too tightly, she cries out and in an attempt to muffle out her voice, Lennie accidentally breaks her neck. This signals the beginning of the end for Lennie, but will George be able to get out of trouble again? John Steinbeck’s of Mice and Men is a short, easy read, but the lessons to be learned from it are not.