Of mice and men characters

Lennie Small continued...

  • Lennie's  strength and his lack of intelligence makes him dangerous; "I didn’t kill it. Honest! I found it. I found it dead.", "I done a bad thing. I done another bad thing.", "I didn't wanta...I didn't wanta hurt him."
  • He is a big man, in contrast to his name. 'Lennie SMALL'
  • He can be forgetful. George continually has to remind him about important things. "So you forgot that awready, did you? I gotta tell you again, do I? Jesus Christ, you're a crazy *******!"
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  • Candy is the oldest ranch hand. He lost his right hand in an accident at work.
  • Candy is "a tall, stoop-shouldered old man … . He was dressed in blue jeans and carried a big push-broom in his left hand." 
  • He is the 'swamper' - the man who cleans the bunkhouse. He knows he will be thrown out and put 'on the county' when he is too old to work.
  • Because of this, he accepts what goes on and doesn't challenge anything: he can't afford to lose his job.
  • He has a very old dog, which he has had from a pup. It is his only friend and companion. "The old man came slowly into the room. He had his broom in his hand. And at his heels there walked a drag-footed sheep dog, gray of muzzle, and with pale, blind old eyes."
  • Carlson insists on shooting the dog because he claims it is too old and ill to be of any use. Candy is devastated.
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George Milton continued...

  • Only when Candy offers the stake does George actually begin to see that this dream could come true. But, realist that he is, George tells Candy over the lifeless body of Curley's wife, "I think I knowed from the very first. I think I know'd we'd never do her. He usta like to hear about it so much I got to thinking maybe we would [be able to have the farm.]" In the end, George Milton is man alone once again.
  • He shoots Lennie in the back of the head save Lennie from being tortured by the pursuing lynch mob. Which connotes friendship and links to his promise to Aunt Clara in keeping him safe.
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Slim continued...

  • Slim is present at every crucial juncture in the story: the death of Candy's dog, the smashing of Curley's hand, finding the body of Curley's wife, at the pool after George has shot Lennie. In each case, there is violence or the threat of it. Each time Slim helps make the assessment to do what is merciful or what is right.
  • He understands the relationship between George and Lennie. He helps George at the end and reassures George that he did the right thing.
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Candy continued...

  • He is lonely and isolated, but makes friends with George and Lennie and offers his compensation money to help them all to buy a ranch together and achieve their dream.
  • When he finds Curley's wife dead, he is furious, as he knows instantly that Lennie was involved and that they have lost their chance of achieving their dream.
  • He tells George later that he should have shot his dog himself, foreshadowing George's decision to take responsibility for Lennie's death and "be his brother's keeper."- links to friendship.
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Crooks continued...

  • The only time he mixes with the ranch hands socially is when they pitch horseshoes - and then he beats everyone!
  • He has his own room near the stables and has a few possessions. He has books, which show he is intelligent and an old copy of the California Civil Code, which suggests he is concerned about his rights.
  • He has seen many men come and go, all dreaming of buying a piece of land, but is now cynical, as no one has ever achieved it.
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  • Crooks is the black stable hand or buck.
  • He is the only permanent employee at the ranch, since he injured his back in an accident. His back gives him constant pain. He is named 'Crooks' because of his crippled back.
  • He is the only black man around and is made to be isolated by his colour - he can't go into the bunk-house or socialise with the men.
  • He is always called the '******' by the men, which shows how racism is taken for granted. The men don't mean to insult Crooks every time they call him this, but they never think to use his name.  Interestingly, only Lennie, the flawed human, does not see the color of Crooks' skin.
  • All this has made him proud and aloof.
  • He is lonely. "S'pose you didn't have nobody. S'pose you couldn't go into the bunk house and play rummy 'cause you were black... A guy needs somebody - to be near him... I tell ya a guy gets too lonely an' he gets sick."
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Curley's wife (or possession)

  • She is only woman in the plot and, she is defined by her role: Curley's wife 
  • George and Candy call her by other names such as "tart." She wears too much makeup and dresses like a "whore" with red fingernails and red shoes with ostrich feathers.
  •  Lennie is fascinated by her and cannot take his eyes off her.  George, realizing Lennie's fascination, warns him to stay away from her.
  • She is lonely - there are no other women to talk to and Curley is not really interested in her. "What kinda harm am I doin' to you? Seems like they ain't none of them cares how I gotta live. I tell you I ain't used to livin' like this. I coulda made somethin' of myself."
  • She doesn't like Curley. She tells Lennie that she only married him when she didn't receive a letter she'd been promised to get into Hollywood. This also shows how naive she is.
  • She seems flirtatious and is always hanging around the bunk-house. But she is not a tart.
  • Her dreams make her more human and vulnerable. Steinbeck reiterates this impression by portraying her innocence in death: ''Curley's wife lay with a half-covering of yellow hay. And the meanness and the plannings and the discontent and the ache for attention were all gone from her face. She was very pretty and simple, and her face was sweet and young. Now her rouged cheeks and her reddened lips made her seem alive and sleeping very lightly. The curls, tiny little sausages, were spread on the hay behind her head, and her lips were parted.''
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George Milton

  • George is described as physically small with very sharp features; ''The first man was small and quick, dark of face, with restless eyes and sharp, strong features. Every part of him was defined: small, strong hands, slender arms, a thin and bony nose.''
  • He has been a good friend to Lennie, ever since he promised Lennie's Aunt Clara that he would care for him. ''I knowed his Aunt Clara. She took him when he was a baby and raised him up. When his Aunt Clara died, Lennie just come along with me out workin'. Got kinda used to each other after a little while."
  • He looks after all Lennie's affairs, such as carrying his work card, and tries to steer him out of potential trouble. ''"You never had none, you crazy *******. I got both of 'em here. Think I'd let you carry your own work card?"'
  • He needs Lennie as a friend, not only because Lennie's strength helps to get them both jobs, but so as not to be lonely. ''Guys like us that work on ranches are the loneliest guys in the world. They ain't got no family and they don't belong no place. They got nothin' to look ahead to...well, we ain't like that. We got a future. We got somebody to talk to that gives a damn about us. If them other guys gets in jail they can rot for all anybody cares.''
  • He shares a dream with Lennie to own a piece of land 
  • He is honest with people he trusts. For example, he tells Slim that he used to play tricks on Lennie when they were young, but now feels guilty about it as Lennie nearly drowned.
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Lennie Small continued...

  • He likes to pet soft things, like puppies and dead mice. We know this got him into trouble in Weed when he tried to feel a girl's soft red dress: she thought he was going to attack her. ''I like to pet nice things with my fingers, sof' things." , ''I like to feel silk an' velvet. Do you like to feel velvet?" Lennie chuckled with pleasure. "You bet, by God," he cried''
  • He is very gentle and kind, and would never harm anyone or anything deliberately “I can still tend the rabbits, George? I didn't mean no harm, George.” 
  • He is Georges opposite "Behind him (George) walked his opposite, a huge man, shapeless of face, with large, pale eyes, with wide, sloping shoulders; and he walked heavily, dragging his feet a little, the way a bear drags his paws. His arms did not swing at his sides, but hung loosely."
  • He shares a dream with George to own a piece of land. Lennie's special job would be to tend the rabbits.  “Lennie begged, "Le's do it now. Le's get that place now."'' ''''The rabbits we're gonna get and I, I get to tend 'em''''
  • He has limited intelligence, so he relies on George to look after him. He copies George in everything George does and trusts George completely. ''Lennie, who had been watching, imitated George exactly.''
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George Milton continued...

  • George has given up alot to live the way he does; ''"God, you're a lot of trouble," said George. "I could get along so easy and so nice if I didn't have you on my tail. I could live so easy and maybe have a girl."''
  • George can be very rational and thoughtful, he also gets frustrated and angry with Lennie because the big man cannot control his strength or actions. George repeatedly gets angry, so much so that Lennie knows by heart what it means when George "gives him hell." But George's anger quickly fades when he remembers Lennie's innocence and his inability to remember or think clearly.
  • At the ranch, George often plays solitaire, a game for one.
  •  Unlike Lennie, George does not see their dream in terms of rabbits; instead, he sees it in a practical way.
  • Only when Candy offers the stake does George actually begin to see that this dream could come true. But, realist that he is, George tells Candy over the lifeless body of Curley's wife, "I think I knowed from the very first. I think I know'd we'd never do her. He usta like to hear about it so much I got to thinking maybe we would [be able to have the farm.]" In the end, George Milton is man alone once again.
  • He shoots Lennie in the back of the head save Lennie from being tortured by the pursuing lynch mob. Which connotes friendship and links to his promise to Aunt Clara in keeping him safe.
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  • Slim is described always in terms of dignity and majesty. When he first comes into the bunkhouse, he moves "with a majesty achieved only by royalty and master craftsmen. He was a jerk-line skinner, the prince of the ranch, capable of driving ten, sixteen, even twenty mules with a single line to the leaders." 
  • He is the natural leader at the ranch. Everyone respects his views and looks up to him. Slim is so respected and admired on the ranch that even Curley listens to him. "there was a gravity in his manner and a quiet so profound that all talked stopped when he spoke. His authority was so great that his word was taken on any subject, be it politics or love."
  •  Slim is the only one on the ranch who appreciates the difficulty of George's position. He understands the constant oversight George must exercise in watching Lennie and keeping him out of trouble. It is Slim, in the end, who suggests that George did the right thing in killing Lennie mercifully. He explains the alternative: "An s'pose they lock him up an' strap him down and put him in a cage. That ain't no good, George."
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  • Curley is the boss's son, so he doesn't need to work like the ordinary ranch hands, and he has time to kill. "You the new guys the old man was waitin’ for?"
  • He's little - so he hates big guys. "Well . . . tell you what. Curley's like a lot of little guys. He hates big guys. He's alla time picking scraps with big guys.
  • He is a prize-fighter and he tries to prove this and his masculinity by picking fights "He glanced coldly at George and then at Lennie. His arms gradually bent at the elbows and his hands closed into fists. He stiffened and went into a slight crouch. His glance was at once calculating and pugnacious."
  • He is newly-married and is very possessive of his wife - but he still visits brothels.
  • There is a rumour that he wears a glove filled with Vaseline to keep his hand soft for his wife.
  • When Lennie kills Curley's wife, Curley sees this as his opportunity for revenge. In his meanness, he tells Carlson to aim for Lennie's gut so that Lennie will suffer. This, in turn, causes George to make the decision to kill Lennie mercifully.
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Lennie Small

  • Lennie is a very childlike character. He is amused by the smallest things, what he remembers/forgets and, his fears; ''Lennie dabbled his big paw in the water and wiggled his fingers so the water arose in little splashes; rings widened across the pool to the other side and came back again. Lennie watched them go. "Look, George. Look what I done."'', "I remember about the rabbits, George." "You ain't gonna leave me, are ya George?"
  • He is described as being an animal throughout the poem which has been used to show his simpleness, strength and, his loyalty. "...and he walked heavily, dragging his feet a little, the way a bear drags his paws.", ''Slowly, like a terrier who doesn't want to bring a ball to his master, Lennie approached, drew back, approached again.'', ''Lennie covered his face with huge paws and bleated with terror.'' 
  • Lennie is devoted to George, like a dog to his master.'"Give you what, George?""You know God damn well what. I want that mouse." Lennie reluctantly reached into his pocket.'' , "George is going to give me hell"
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