Of Mice and Men

English OCR Notes for Of Mice and Men

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John Steinbeck & The Depression

  • born in Salinas, California in 1902.
  • from a wealthy family but was interested in the lives of labourers and so spent time working with them.
  • wrote other books such as 'The Grapes of Wrath' about people who dreamed of better lives.

The Depression

  • October 1929 = Wall Street Crash.
  • It crippled the country from 1930-1936.
  • food shortages throughout the country.
  • settlements known as hoovervilles.
  • droughts in the South.
  • Ranch hands got paid less.
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George & Lennie

George

  • Loyal to lennie 1) tells him to behave 2) makes him have food and water
  • Doesn't always be gentle to him
  • No problem of his own 
  • - smart so can get work.
  • - believes in the dream farm.
  • Realistic character 1) normal guy 2) sympathy ofr him 
  • Dream keeps him going 1) dream dies with lennie 

Lennie

  • Huge grown man 1) childlike 2) condition not expalained 3) soft things
  • Animalistic 1) eats/drinks 2) 'drags his paws' 3) follows George around.
  • Depends on George 1) can't survive on his own. 2) good worker
  • Cunning 1) gets George to talk about dream farm
  • Killer 1) nicest 2) attacks Curley's wife 3) fear into anger.
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Slim & Candy & Curley

Slim

  • lead-mule driver.
  • natural leader and everyone looks up to him.
  • he has quiet dignity, doesn't need to assert himself to have authority.
  • "His authority was so great that his word was taken on any subject, be it politics or love."

Candy

  • seems harmless but gets angry when plans ae ruined.
  • weak/disabled and gets left behind and believs in dream farm.
  • old/useless like dog.

Curley

  • small - hates big guys - he is a prize fighter and looks to fight.
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Crooks and Curleys Wife

Crooks

  • has his own room (small, basic) and has his own privacy.
  • only black man in the book.
  • he is lonely - jealous of George & Lennie and offers to work for them for free and then is part of something.

Curley's Wife

  • Main woman
  • men worry because she is flirty.
  • called 'rattrap' because she is a threat.
  • wears a lot of make up and red lips which is like the red dress in Weed.
  • she is lonely.
  • pretends to be looking for Curley but she's looking for attention.
  • Sympathy felt towards her.
  • Typical life of a woman in the 1930's.
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Themes (1)

Loneliness

  • George says that ranchers are the loneliest people in the world.
  • lonely by race and by gender.
  • friendship ends in disaster.
  • Curley's wife tries to be friends with the ranches but leads to her death.
  • Animals are temporary friends : the dog, mice.

Quotes :

  • ' I get awful lonely' (Page 122)
  • 'can't talk to nobody but Curley' (Page 123)
  • = he holds her back.
  • = married to escape life she had but she is trapped again
  • ' He gets mad'
  • = asserts authority
  • = no love from him.
  • ' Guy goes nuts' (Page 105) 
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Themes (2)

Race 

  • Crooks shows black society, use of '******' which is a derogitory term.
  • lives in barn = animalistic rights.

Quotes :

  • ' Nobody ain't got any rights' (Page 100) 
  • 'difficult to conceal pleasure with anger.." (Page 107)
  • 'thin-lipped' (Page 99) - suppressed and little opportunity to speak.
  • 'Crooks spoke irritably' (Page 107) = adverbs (scornfully, daring)

Gender

  • Curley's wife = main character who's female.
  • no name - possession, no individuality.
  • socially/financially dependent and is trapped.
  • 'couldn't get no-where' (Page 124) 'full rouged lips' (Page 53)
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Themes (3)

Dreams

  • American Dream : not attainable.
  • All their dreams are doomed.

Quotes :

  • ' Baloney! ' (Page 112) to the dream.
  • ' It's just like heaven - nobody gets to heave, nobody gets land' (Page 106)
  • 'I think....' (Page 131 - George said it would have not worked, referring to the dream.

Age

  • mentality in this society is, if you are old, you have no use.
  • 'old, candy'= derived by age.
  • 'dog is old' = like Candy (Page 80)
  • 'looks hopelessly' (Page 72) = not as important as younger. 
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