Introduction to Of Mice and Men

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Lives of Farm Workers

  • About 2 farm workers and their dream of owning their own farm
  • Title of the novel comes from the poem "To a Mouse" by Robert Burns. A line in this poem was - "The best laid schemes o' mice an' men / Gang aft agley" - this  means that even really well planned out operations often go wrong.
  • Novel is fictional but it shows what life was like during the Great Depression - American stock market crashed so thousands of people lost their money, many banks shut down, no one could afford to buy things, millions ended up unemployed
  • Partly based on John Steinbeck's own experience
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Background Information

  • Weed and Soledad are both real places in California
  • Great Depression in 1930s hit farmers badly - forced to leave homes to find work
  • Some had borrowed money to buy machinery for the farm, this led to overpoduction which made prices fall
  • Huge areas of farmland became like a desert as the drought (combined with over farming) happened in the 1930s creating the 'Dust Bowl'
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Who Is Who?

  • George - small, fairly intelligent, travels with Lennie
  • Lennie - big, strong, slow-witted, travles with George, likes stroking soft things
  • Candy - old, one - handed rancher, sweeps bunk house, has an old dog
  • Crooks - crippled, picked on because he's black, very bitter about life
  • Slim - most respected man on the ranch, looks up to him
  • Curley - small, aggressive, boss's son, no one likes him
  • Curley's Wife - young, pretty, bit of a flirt, hates life, lonely
  • Carlson - insensitive, aggressive rancher, always complaining, stirs up trouble
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Chapter One

  • George & Lennie spend the night by a pool before starting work at a new ranch
  • George is annoyed with Lennie as they had to leave in a hurry from their least job. 
  • Lennie perusades George to tell him about their dream farm
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Chapter Two

  • G&L arrive at ranch late so boss is angry
  • Candy explains to G&L what life there is like
  • G&L meet all the main people including Curley, Wife and Slim
  • Curley tries to pick a fight with L
  • Curley's wife flirts with the ranches and catches Lennie's attention
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Chapter Three

  • G talks to Slim. Find out what happened in Weed
  • Carlson wants to shoot Candy's dog and eventually he lets him
  • G&L start to talk about dream farm. Candy hears and asks to join them; he offers them money
  • Lennie crushes Curley's hand but Slim convinces Curley to say he got it caught a machine
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Chapter Four

  • Crooks eventually lets L stay in his room
  • Candy joins them, feeling uncomfortable to begin with, then starts talking about dream farm
  • CW comes in and spoils it. Candy stands up to her but she starts to undermine their dreams
  • G tells L off for going to Crook's room and telling other people about the farm
  • Crooks claims his disinterest
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Chapter Five

  • L accidently kills his puppy
  • L finds out that CW wants to be a movie star
  • CW lets L stroke her hair, but gets angry when he does it too hard. This makes L panic, breaking her neck
  • L runs away
  • Candy finds CW in the barn, dead, other men decide to hunt L down
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Chapter Six

  • L goes back to where G and him stayed before they arrived at the ranch
  • Lennie 'sees' his Aunt Clara who start to lecture about his faults
  • G finds L and calms him by telling him about the dream
  • G shoots L himself before Curley kills him in a really painful way
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