Of Mice and Men themes


everyone is lonely

"ranchers are the loneliest guys in the world"- George
"guys get lonely" - Crooks (segregated because black)
"awful lonely" - Curly's wife (not proper name, discrimination)

looking for a companion ends badly

George and Lennie - Lennie dies
Curly's wife - she dies
Candy - dog dies
Lennie - dream dies with Lennie

animals are seen as a temporary solution -

Lennie's mice and rabbits 
Candy's dog

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disabled- needed to be fit to work, not useful otherwise. Candy "i aint much good with one hand"

age- can't look after themselves. Candy

racism- Crooks segregated; given "hell" by the boss and threatened by Curly's wife; likes the idea of the dream and being equal but realises he can't be part of it when Curly's wife threatens him

women- Curly's wife the only woman in the book, uses looks for attention, considered a tart. men and women don't understand eachother, people thinks Curly's wife is a tart when she is lonely, Curly thinks a hand full of vaseline is enough, Curly's wife thinks men are useless.

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George and Lennie want a better life, the dream keeps them going, George wants to be his own boss but only really believes in it when candy offers money.
when George tells Lennie the dream he often sounds bored or other times he sounds "entranced"
at the end "I knowd we'd never do her"

Whit and Carlson don't have dreams- they survive

Curly's wife wanted to be in the "pitchers"- trapped with Curly instead. finally gets attention when dead. death is the only escape from loneliness

Crooks wants equal rights, has his worn out law book, never reaches his dream

nobody achieves their dream in the novel. 1930's pessimistic outlook, the American dream could never exist.

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many of the events are foreshadowed - we know the book will end badly as Lennie's violence gets worse, mice, puppy, human, himself.

shooting of Candy's dog is foreshadowing of Lennie's death

the characters have little control over their own destinies:

Lennie dependent on George
Curly's wife dependent on mother, Curly and director- mother hide letters or director not write, died because nobody was watching her
Slim can control small things (Godlike)- decided Candy's dogs death, stops Curly from sacking George and Lennie. Can't stop Lennie or Curly's wife's deaths
 The best laid schemes o' mice and men
often go wrong
and leave us nought but grief and pain
for promised joy 

                          -  Robert Burns

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death in nearly every chapter

death is a part of life on the ranch and nobody can stop it.

there are different reactions to death-
Lennie- no difference between killing a human and animal
George- concerned about Lennie's death and not Curly's wife
Curley- only cares about revenge from his wife's death, no remorse
Candy- devastated about Curley's wife as he lost his dream
Slim- treats Curley's wife with respect in death (respectful of death, doesn't die)

death ends everyones dreams

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Chapter 1- by the pond

foreshadowing- natural and peaceful scene, fish "mysteriously" sinks in the water (ominious)

Lennie- drinks water like an animal/ child, bear-like characteristics (dangerous)

George- smart, "restless eyes", George talks about dream (red and green rabbits make it seem unreal, not rational, doesn't believe it but goes along with it for George. 
George loses temper and says he wishes he was alone, then looks ashamed 

foreshadowing- both run from weed, the "beaten hard" track shows they are one of many to go there (nothing special) and that they won't be there long. 

"hide in the brush" if there's trouble- George expects it

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Chapter 2- arrive at the ranch

meet candy- broken by life and depression
Lennie forgets promise of not speaking- foreshadows trouble later on
boss see's unusual friendship- not normal in 1930's 
Curley quick to show superiori

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