Of Mice and Men


Context - Card 1

1930s America

  • Economic Depression - Wall Street Crash
  • High levels of unemployment, poverty and homelessness
  • Increasing mechanisation - Taking over jobs
  • Refugee camps
  • Drought
  • Bankruptcy
  • Banks collapsing

Frank D Roosevelt - New deal

Main Aims

  • Relief - Improve lives
  • Recovery - Rebuild US industry
  • Reform - Change conditions to ensure future progress
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Context - Card 2

Workers lost their jobs

Dustbowl - Land wasn't fertile for crops

Hollywood was on the rise

Racism was a big thing - Crooks - Although racist, very typical

Prejudice is a major theme 

American Dream - Major Theme

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Chapter 1 Analysis - By the Pool

Lennie - Animal

  • 'Like a horse' - drinking from the pool
  • 'Like a terrier' - Holding on to the mouse
  • 'Looked wildly into the brush line as though he contemplated running for his freedom' - like an animal, Lennie's instinct is to escape when feeling threatened

Lennie and George = Long Term companions - almost like a dog and his owner

Main Theme - Symbolism and Destiny

George has a range of emotions

Lennie starts wanting to tend the rabbits in the chapter


  • On the run from a 'bad thing' - "In trouble like always done before"
  • Pinches the head of the mice, killing them - Doesn't know his strength - Curley's Wife
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Chapter 2 Analysis - Settling in on the Ranch

Boss and Curley create a tense atmosphere

We meet Curley's wife - Provocative

Start of everyone's problems

George is restless because of it

Main Themes - Prejudice and Loneliness

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Chapter 3 Analysis - The Dream and a Fight

George opens up to Slim about Lennie -

  • Aunt Clara
  • George says Lennie "can't do anything to himself"
  • Slim says he is "jes' like a kid"
  • Problems in Weed
  • Lennie grabbed the woman's red dress - foreshadowing of Curley's Wife

Whit finds a letter from Bill Tenner in a magazine - He is proud to know him and gets very excited - suggests his life is very boring

Candy's dog gets killed - Ageism

Chance that the dream could become a reality

Lennie fights with Curley - Can't fight - Needs George 

Animal - "paws"

Grim atmosphere - Everyone knows what Lennie is capable of, accidentally

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Chapter 4 Analysis - In Crooks's Room

Lennie doesn't see Crooks as a different skin colour


Crooks is not used to having white people in his room - protective

Crooks has a lot of medicine bottles - "both for himself and for the horses" - shows he is no different to the animals

Dreaming happens again - "fatta the lan'"

Curley's Wife breaks everything up and shows how much power she has over Crooks by saying "I could get you strung up on a tree so easy it ain't even funny" - Theme of segregation and racism

By the end of the chapter, everything is normal again

Crooks returns to putting liniment on his aching back - events are cyclic - recurring - dream with never happen

Themes - Prejudice, Women, Loneliness, Destiny

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Chapter 5 Analysis - Lennie Kills Curley's Wife

Lennie is in the barn again - "done a bad thing" - Killed the puppy

Curley's Wife arrives - talks about dreams

Lennie strokes her hair, she panics, he holds on, he breaks her neck - "flopped like a fish" - similar to Curley's hand - "Flopping like a fish on a line"

Everyone's dreams are over - Curley's Wife becomes more beautiful after she is dead

Curley wants revenge - doesn't care for his wife- first time they are seen together - Slim cares for her

George plans to kill Lennie - Lennie has a gun

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Chapter 6 Analysis - George Shoots Lennie

Lennie goes back to the pool

He has visions/hallucinations of Aunt Clara and a giant rabbit - In Lennie's voice - shows he knows he has done a "bad thing"

Giant Rabbit threatens that Lennie will never change - mentally unstable - Lennie understands he has messed up his and George's lives

George kills Lennie - talks to him and then shoots him

Carlson doesn't understand why they are so sad - he has no dreams

Curley is glad he is dead

The man with no dreams or hopes ends the novel, foreshadowing what George might become without Lennie

Themes - Death, Dreams, Destiny

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Character Analysis - George

  • George is loyal - Lennie's minder/instructor - almost like an owner to a dog
  • Lennie relies on him - things like getting a job or food
  • Geroge isn't always nice to Lennie - "Crazy *******"
  • George is smart and he could "live so easy" if he was alone
  • Feels responsible for Lennie
  • Realistic character - Steinbeck wants readers to feel sympathetic for George 
  • Ordinary man in an ordinary situation but he is shrouded by everyone else's problems
  • Aggressive - Candy tries to get into their dream - "You got nothing to do with us"
  • Dislikes Curley
  • Often aggressive towards Lennie
  • Good at reading people - knows that Curley is bad, Curley's wife is dangerous "I seen 'em poison before", trusts Slim
  • Dream is keeping him going 
  • Lonely without his friend
  • Carrying emotional baggage - depressed and defensive
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Character Analysis - Lennie

  • Childlike - "He's jes' like a kid"
  • Strong - "Strong as a bull"
  • Like an animal - "Lennie covered his face with his huge paws", "Like a bear", Eats and drinks like a hungry animal, Possessive over his animals, Lennie is like George's pet, George shoots Lennie in the head like Candy's dog
  • Dependant on George - Looked after Lennie since Aunt Clara died, couldn't survive on his own, George has the brains and Lennie has the strength
  • Lennie has moments of intelligence - He knows George would feel Lennie would feel guilty about leaving him
  • When he hallucinates, he realises how much George does for him
  • Lennie is a killer - dangerous
  • Steinbeck makes the reader feel sorry for him - Lennie isn't malicious, doesn't want to cause pain
  • Lennie was "jus' scairt" when Curley attacked Lennie
  • Slim knows he "ain't a bit mean" and he is the most intelligent on the ranch
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Character Analysis - Slim and Whit

  • Respected worker 
  • "Jerkline skinner" - skillful job
  • "The prince of the ranch"
  • Has "authority"
  • He isn't intimidated by Curley's Wife- he has authority over her
  • Slim is there in the key moments - Candy's dog being killed, Gives Lennie the puppy, Organises Curley's hospital trip when Lennie breaks his hand, He knows Lennie needs to be killed "I guess we gotta get 'im", comforts George when he kills Lennie
  • Spiritual leader - almost Jesus
  • The first character to call Crooks by his name
  • Respected - "His word is taken on any subject"
  • Mysterious - "Understanding beyond thought"
  • Godlike - "Calm, Godlike eyes"
  • Destined for a life on the ranch
  • Has no dreams
  • Lonely - As soon as George talks, he is "not interested" in their card game
  • Gets excited that he knew Bill Tenner - Shows loneliness
  • Recommends "Old Susy's" - wastes his money on girls and drinks - no ambition
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Character Analysis - Crooks and Carlson

  • Has his own room - full of possessions that he can call his own
  • Privacy is one of the few rights he has
  • Victim of racism - usually called "******" 
  • Loneliness makes you better
  • Little amount of power on the ranch - the lowest in the class system of the ranch
  • The best at the horseshoe game
  • Cannot hope for power
  • The dream gives Crooks courage - gives him the courage to stand up to Curley's wife, who threatens him - He "reduced himself to nothing"
  • Mr Insensitive - doesn't consider anyone's feelings
  • Doesn't understand why George and Slim are upset about Lennie dying
  • Aggressive - "You come for me an' I'll kick your God damn head off"
  • Insensitive - "Now what the hell ya suppose is eatin' them two guys?"
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Character Analysis - Curley

  • No one likes Curley
  • He is the bosses son - has a lot of power over a lot of people
  • Wears "high-heeled boots" like the boss because he is small and it shows he is in charge
  • Looks like a small boxer - very jumpy
  • Fighting is the one thing he is good at
  • Isn't happily married - The only time the two of them are together is when she is dead
  • Curley wants revenge on Lennie rather than staying with his wife - unhealthy relationship
  • Insecure - "You seen a girl around here?"
  • Aggressive - "He's alla time picking scraps with big guys"
  • Disliked - "This guy Curley sounds like a son-of-a-***** to me. I don't like mean little guys"
  • Sexism towards Curley's wife - wants to keep her in the house
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Character Analysis - Curley's Wife

  • She faces sexism - links to the context of the time
  • Very attractive - trying to lead everyone on with her make-up and hair 
  • Lennie loves her looks
  • Wears red - links to love, but also danger
  • "********"
  • She isn't happy - always searching for Curley but they always miss each other
  • A victim of an abusive relationship - only married him to get away from her mum
  • Pretty - "She's purty"
  • Lonely - "I get awful lonely"
  • Flirtatious - "She got the eye goin' all the time on everybody"
  • Horrible to Crooks - shows she has power because she is married to Curley
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Themes Analysis - Loneliness, Prejudice and Dreams

  • Everyone on the ranch is lonely
  • "They got no family"
  • No one can think of an answer to being lonely - Dreams are the only way forward
  • Looking for companionship can be dangerous - Lennie and George, Curley and Curley's Wife
  • Crooks is treated badly - Racism, Everyone gives him "hell", Makes Crooks bitter 
  • People on the ranch are going nowhere - "ain't got nothing to look ahead to"
  • George dreams of life a lot - dreams of having a girl
  • A better life - American Dream
  • Dreams get physically crushed by Lennie in the story
  • Characters have different dreams -Curley's Wife - Movie star
  • Carlson and Whit - have enough for whisky and sex but have no ambitions - they just exist
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Themes Analysis - Women

  • Three important women:
  • Curley's wife
  • Aunt Clara
  • Susy
  • Curley's Wife - Very lonely and isolated - uses her sexuality to her advantage - Haunts the farm - Has her own impossible dream of being a movie star
  • Aunt Clara - Lennie doesn't remember her very much - "The lady" - Aunt Clara wanted George to look after Lennie
  • Susy - Runs a "whore house" - Whit ways it is one of the best because the girls are "clean", doesn't pressure on the men
  • Assumes Curley's Wife is a "tart"
  • Curley doesn't understand his wife's needs - thinks being there is covering his hand in Vaseline
  • Women stereotype men, Men stereotype women
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Themes Analysis - Destiny and Death

  • Lennie thinks George is in charge of destiny
  • George doesn't have all the answers
  • Destined to go wrong - Robert Burns poem and title link - Gang aft agley
  • Foreshadowing throughout
  • Death is part of life
  • Big part of novel
  • Lennie kills a mouse, a puppy, and Curley's Wife - unintentionally
  • Death is inevitable 
  • Lennie doesn't see a difference in killing a puppy and killing Curley's Wife
  • Death ends everyone's dreams - mainly George and Lennie's
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Relating to the Mark Scheme

  • You need to remain close to the question; You need to include as many quotations as possible from the text; You need to analyse language; You need to offer your own ideas and interpretations; You need to mention the effect on the reader
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