CHAPTER 1 ANALYSIS
- denim clothing - poor ranch workers.
- single file way of walking - reveals dynamics of relationship, George is the leader
- Lennie lacks common sense (drinks from river) - hints to mental disability
- Lennie petting mouse - shows innocence and unintended consequences of strength
- George thinks life will be easier without Lennie - we question why he is still with him?
- behind George's frustration and hate is love and pity
- Lennie's history with mice - foreshadows him destroying things he loves
- Aunt Clara's death - shows lack of family and community in ranch workers lives
- George and Lennie's farm dream - links to American Dream, fullest expression of their friendship
CHAPTER 2 ANALYSIS
- meeting with Candy - a man broken by life and the Depression
- Lennie's mental weakness made him forget his promise not to speak - foreshadows more trouble ahead
- the boss see's the friendship - the idea of lasting male friendship is foreign on the ranch
- Curley is quick to show superiority - boots and picking fights
- mention of curleys wife - shows men's fear of women and the effects of women on men
- Curley's wife flaunts good looks - George foresees that Lennie's attraction to feminine softness will again cause trouble and threaten their 'dream'
- Slim admires George and Lennie's friendship - shows rarity of friendship on the ranch
- Slim says he had to kill 9 puppies - during the Depression men believe that killing the weak protects them from suffering and is seen as mercy
- Curley's wariness about his wife - George foresees trouble with Curly
CHAPTER 3 ANALYSIS
- Slim praises Lennie's work - George feels pride and shows heartfelt affection
- George describes his past with Lennie - description of his moral development, he once took advantage of Lennie like all the men on the ranch take advantage of eachother but realised he valued his friendship too much
- their previous trouble stems from Lennie's love of soft things and a woman's false accusal of ****
- 'mercy' killing of Candy's dog - shows how the strong destroy the weak, foreshadows future events
- Curley's wife is a threat even to Curley - he keeps track of her in fear of her humiliating him by cheating on him
- Candy lost his dog - sense of losing community, attracted to farm dream because it seems like a new community
- Curley's insecurity about his wife leads to a fight between him and Lennie - wants to prove he is no match by showing his strength but it backfires
CHAPTER 4 ANALYSIS
- Crooks and Lennie are outcasts - this brings them together because each is 'weak' and suffer consequences of mental disability or race, they seem trapped and alone
- Crooks has suffered too much to believe in dreams
- Crooks makes himself feel stronger and advantaged by making Lennie feel weaker
- in fear, Lennie nearly attacks Crooks - Crook's fear is a reminder of Lennie's strength
- Crook's sudden interest in the plan - show's how powerful the dream can be to hope-starved ranchers
- Curley's wife asserts her power by making men feel weak
- Curley's wife reveals her failed dreams of fame - despite the mens hate for Curley, they side with him rather than a woman and don't confess that Curly hurt his hand in a fight
- after showing weakness, Curley's wife shows dominance by crushing their dream - Crook's sudden claim he doesn't want anything to do with it shows impact of Curleys wife's verbal assault
CHAPTER 5 ANALYSIS
- dead puppy - ominous sign that Lennie's strength creates accidental tragedy
- Curley's wife lacks love and attention - regrets sacrificing her dreams for Curley
- Lennie kills Curley's wife - kills his dream, kills her dream
- Lennie believed in the dream so much so in the end George did too - now he is doomed to live a lonely rancher's life
- Candy mourns for the death of the dream - he viewed it as a comfort and a hope for him now it is over and he feels hopeless again
- Curley finds his wife and is angry, not sorrowful - a parallel to Carlson killing the dog
CHAPTER 6 ANALYSIS
- Lennie understand the destructive consequence of his actions - things he holds most condemn him (friendship and dream)
- Lennie wants to pretend everything is normal - he wants it to be normal so desperately and wants to forget his terrible actions, George plays along
- men like Carlson and Curley don't understand friendship whereas George and Slim do - this is the legacy of Lennie's dream
When the stock market crashed in 1929, an already awful situation for farmer and farm workers got considerably worse. Following World War 1, crop prices plunged, forcing famers to expand their farms and buy more equipment to make up for the shortfall. This situation was exacerbated when a severe drought crippled much of the American West. So when the market crashed, farmers could not pay back the debts they had built up in buying more land and equipment. As a result, many farmers and farm workers migrated to California in hopes of finding enough work to live.
Broken Dreams: title comes from 'To a Mouse', the line 'the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry' - links to how the dreams of George, Lennie, Candy and Curley's wife never came true due to forces beyond their control destroying them. In the bleak economic outlook of the Great Depression, people had to come to terms with dreams broken by out-of-control economic forces.
The American Dream: 'life, liberty and the persuit of happiness.' Lennie and George's dream of living off the 'fatta the lan' symbolizes this dream, while the dream never actually comes true, the novel suggests that in order for life to be full and meaningful, it must contain dreams, the dream is real because in their imaginations it's real, the dream gives them life even if life doesn't give them the dream.
Friendship: usually ranchers have no family and friends and a bleak future, George and Lennie's friendship is odd due to this. Although most of the men in the novel are alone, they crave companionship - eg Crooks - 'A guy needs somebody - to be near him'
The Weak and the Strong: the shooting of Carlsons dog shows that the weak are inevitably destroyed as the strong had to fight for survival, everyone on the ranch tries to look strong even if they feel weak, like Curley standing up to big guys. Each character tries to appear strong by asserting power over eachother. This is why nobody can comprehend the friendship because it is devoid of power dynamics. Survival of the fittest.
Women: two different visions of women in the novel. The men on the ranch view them as 'tarts' and sexual temptresses, they use derogatory language. On the other hand Curley's wife is sometimes seen as the lonely victim, and Aunt Clara as a vision of wholesome femininity.
The Dream Farm: symbolizes the American Dream, the characters indulge in the dream of living off of the land, the description also seems like a symbol of paradise
Rabbits: Lennie's dream of tending the rabbits establishes his complete innocence, his innocent love of soft things leads to his downfall, the rabbits therefore symbolize innocence and the downfall of the innocent in a harsh world
Candy's Dog: Carlsons killing of the dog symbolizes that in the harsh economic climate, only the strong can survive and the weak must be destroyed. The way the dog was killed, gunshot to the back of the head, foreshadows Lennie's death and likens Lennie to the dog, both powerless, innocent and doomed
Lennie's Puppy: just as Lennie depends on George, the puppy is completely dependent on Lennie, also like Lennie, the puppy symbolizes the fate of the weak in the face of the strong