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`Of Mice and Men' presents a microcosm
of the hardship faced by sections of
American society in California during the
1930s. Steinbeck offers a critique of social
conditions and describes the destructive
effects of suffering and brutality on
people's hopes. In this way many
characters can be seen as representative
of sections of society.…read more

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· George ­ is a father figure, a friend and a protector to Lennie. The
paternal archetype that George adopts is cautious and responsible
· George's character is really defined by his relationship with Lennie. Their
friendship is cemented by the shared dream.
· When he no longer has Lennie, George is demoted to the same position
as everyone else on the ranch
· Features of presentation ­ he uses expletives (swear words) to show his
frustration and irritation.
· He confides in Slim about his relationship with Lennie and how he has
evolved from playing tricks on him to make himself look smart, showing
his capacity for moral growth.
· He shows compassion in his relationship with Lennie, repeating the
`dream' when he begs to hear it, and showing his co-dependence on
Lennie when Lennie threatens to "go off and live in a cave" conveyed
through his gentler manner of speech.…read more

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Lennie ­ Key passages. The opening section, killing
of Curley's wife and ending
· Lennie is a harmless giant, a huge, bear-like man whose hands are
described as "paws" ­ strong, slow-witted, loyal and innocent.
· Along with the childish innocence, Lennie can also be devious and
manipulative. We see him using emotional blackmail with George
for instance in the opening scene by the pool.
· A lot of the action involves Lennie in the novella, but he is only
partly aware of his role in it.
· His behaviour tends to be instinctive
· Features of presentation: Symbolism, foreshadowing and animal
imagery. He is compared to a "bear" and a "horse". He crushes
mice just by "pettin `em too hard" and his attempt to feel a girl's
dress in Weed foreshadows his killing of Curley's wife.…read more

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Crooks ­ Key passage: opening of Section 4
· A victim of casual racism showing the prevalence of discrimination
on the ranch
· He is treated as sub-human, sleeping in the harness room,
segregated from the other ranch hands
· He has become hardened and embittered by the way he is routinely
· He emerges from his protective shell momentarily when he is
persuaded to share in George and Lennie's dream but quickly
retreats when subjected to Curley's wife's racist taunts
· Features of presentation: A developed description of his room
which reflects both his isolation, loneliness, education and
awareness of his rights as well as his racist treatment by the other
· His monosyllabic language, including use of double negatives,
which conveys his grim resignation and cynicism.…read more

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Curley's wife ­ Key passages. The first description
of her, the encounter with Crooks (in his room) and
later Lennie (in the barn) and her death.
· Like many of the characters in the novel. Curley's wife reveals many times that
she is lonely
· She is anonymous, a possession of Curley's, and objectified by the ranch men.
She has no independent identity.
· Despite being married they do not appear together until the end of the novel,
after she is dead. He does not even touch her although one of the first things we
hear about Curley is the rumour that he wears a "glove fulla vaseline" to keep
his hand soft for his wife.
· Features of presentation: Steinbeck carefully shapes our response to her. We
hear about her from Candy and the other men before we see her. She at first
appears flirtatious and dresses provocatively appearing to confirm their
derogatory view.
· We gain sympathy through her due to revelation of her thwarted dream, her
exchange with Lennie when she confides her frustrations and the presentation
of her death.
· She is the catalyst for destruction; Lennie's killing of Curley's wife results in
Lennie's death and shatters George, Lennie and Candy's shared dream…read more

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