-the story is set in calafornia in the 1930s during the great depression and it's main characters are two wandering farm workers called george and lennie.
- george is small , quick and intelligent
-by contrast lennie is slow and simple-minded
-they travel around together in search of work.
-they have a dream of a place of thier own - a small ranch where they can live and work on thier own.
- they are on the run from the town of weed where lennie caused trouble by innocenly fondling a girls a dress.
-they arrive at a ranch in soledad where they meet cndy , an old , crippled worker.
-curley is the son of the boss and is aggressive and threatening man who is always searching for his wife.
-george decides they will stay on the ranch because they need the work and money.
-lennie tells the black , harshly treat stable buck, crokoks about thier dream farm and he too expresses a wish to be involved
-curleys wife meets lennie in the barn when she finds out he has accidentaly killed the puppy.
-she invites him to stoke her hair but becomes upset upset by his roughness.
-unnerved by her screaming lennie tries to quieten her, accdentally breaking her nec and killing her.
-he runs away and the other ranch-hands set out in pursuit , but george knowing where to find him, forces himself to kill lennie.
about the author
-much of mice and men is based upon steinbecks life and experiences.
-in the years after he failed at univeristy he had many casual jobs, varying from newspaper work to ranch work.
-in the novel steinbeck highlights many of the problems of which he experiences at first hand.
-the great financial collapses of 1929 increased unemployment and poverty throughout the united states.
-george is quick -witted and intelligent
-he has a good working knowledge of farming and ranching
-he is very keen to change to monotony of his present situation
-george has taken on responsiblity for lennie partly out of pity, partly out of affection and partly companionship.
-in many ways george and lennie are the two incomplete halves of one whole person
-george repersents the intelligence and lennie the physical strength.
-george understands that lennie is both a hindrance and an advantage to him
-george is very practical also we are prevented from seeing a sentimental side to him.
- george is entierly blameless for the disasterous end which befails lennie. he knows how lennie tends to behave and could predict danger from the moment they arrived on the ranch however, he ignores these signals as his need for a 'stake' outweighs his natural caution.
-for one night he even leaves the vulnerable lennie behind , in spite of the problems at the ranch, and this leads to lennies downfall.
- although lennie is very child-like , he also shows signs of adult maturity.
-despite his terror of violence he is a man of great physical strength
- he is frequently described in terms of an animal, suggesting not only of his bear like tendency to hold onto his prey and inflict great damage but also a kind of animal innocence.
-lennie has no awareness of any kind of morality -whiich means the ordinary values of 'good' and 'bad' are difficult to understand.
-lennies obsessions for 'petting' shows that he has deep-rooted emotional needs which he himself may not understand.
- there is a dreadful progression in his victims from dead mouse to dead girl.
-lennie's irresistible urge to 'pet' coliders with the desiers and sexuality of curley's wife.
- at the start of the novel lennie is characterised as innocent and naive; by the end he has fallen from grace (committed murder) and by this act has deprived himself from the paradise of the 'dream farm'
- crooks is a bloack cripple who tends horses on the ranch
-he has long been the victim of opressive violence and prejudice and is now aloof and reserved
-he keeps himself to himself and dislikes company, possibly because he has been let down so many times before.
-his natural personality has been has been supprssed by years of antagonism.
-he has an intelligent awareness of lfe , as he has thought hard during his long hours of solitude.
- he feels more confident after speaking to lennie
-hisnew found confidence allows him to stand up to curleys wife but he is humilated by her vicious threats
-his new optimism is finally defeated by georges dismissive attitude to the suggestion that he might participate in the running of the 'dream farm'
-curley is a small man and seems to have developed an iferiority complex as a result.
-he is continually aggressive.
- he is humiliated by his wife's apparent dissatisfation and unhappiness
-he takes adavantages of those who he thinks are weak.
-curley takespleasure in inflicting the maximium amount of damage and pain possible , to dispel his anger ad frustation and maintain his authority.
-even his apprach to intimacy is crude, symbolises by his gloves which, according to candy, is full of vaseline.
-curleys wife is never named in the novel.
- the way she is reffers to as 'curleys wife' makes hersound like curleys property .
- she is bitter because sheis not treated as an induvidual
-she flaunts herself around the ranch
-she pretends she is always looking for curley so she can flirt with the workers
-she dreams of a better life but her dreams are not realistic as they are based on glossy film magazines.
-she has a wish to be admired
- this wish is partly rooted in vanity and partly in insecurity and loneliness, much of which is brought about by her husbands fault finding behaviour
-although her panic at lennies petting of her hair leads to her death , this could have been caused just as easily by lennies unthinking rougness as by any desicion on her part that things had gone too far.
-dignified and charismatic
-gentle and friendly
-intulitve sence and justice
-acts almost as a 'conscinece' to other characters
-steinbecks attaches images of royalty to him he is described as 'majesty' , 'prince' and 'authority'.
-near to the end of his useful on the farm
-has lilttle to look forward to
-he has lost his hand in aan accident
-he also loses his dog (his only companion)
-he is given strength and self-respect at the prospect of a part-ownership of the dream farm.
-stands up to curley
-at the end he has not understanding of the feelings of george and slim have on the death of lennie.
-only appears once
- needs to show he is better than the ranch workers
- treatment of george and lennie seems fair.
themes in 'of mice of men'
themes are important ideas that run through the book. you will come across them lots of times. they connect the story, the characters and the different secenes in the book
-natural, god like authority of slim
-ineffectual bullying of curley
-the bosses authority is based on explotiation
-lennie does have authority, particualry when he threatens to run away
-some characters use violenece as financial power
-others seem to gain it because they avoid exploitation.
-hopes or ambitions
-often kept secret to begin with
-george is annoyed when he finds out lennie and candy have told crooks about the 'dream farm '
-whereas curleys wife is almost desperate to tell lennie about the dreams(ironic that she tells lennie as he has no interest or understandng)
-the 'dream farm' repersents ambition and the possiblity of escape from the workers' lonelines and poverty
-many of the characters are lonely
-continually searching without knowing what they are really looking for.
-different characters seek comfort in different things -for candys it is his dog , for george and lennie it is each other, for crooks it is hs pride.
-lennie is descrbed as a bear
-lenie himself is very natural and has animal like simplicity
-the ranch workers are like men a drift in a wilderness
-used to reinforce the theme of violence (death of lennie, just like curleys dog)
-the boss premits fighting
-curleys is irrational and aggressive
-carlson thrives on violence
-it is carlson that provides george with the means of killing lennie
-it is very likely you will be asked about one of the characters
- you may be given an extract of the story(which you should know already) and be asked to comment on that particular part of the story
-you will need to do so reffering to the themes we have discussed
-remember keep it analytical! do not just retell the stroy.