Of mice and men - Characters

exam notes on some of the main characters 

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He is a intelligent and quick whitted – Slim says “Smart Little Guy”

He is a ranch hand who can’t not progress to ranch owner due to economical reasons

George is kind & soft hearted. The anger & sharpness that occasionally shows is not a result of his temperament but a result of the way he is forced to live and the tension of looking after Lennie.

George looks after Lennie because he is a good loyal person but also the relationship they share gives him something he needs.

George has a good judgement of people e.g. curly and Curley’s wife – trouble and Slim – Man to be trusted

Clean living he does not go to pool rooms or brothels mainly because he is saving up for the dream farm him and Lennie are wanting and also his clean nature like when he was horrified lice was in his bed.

He is a peaceful man but can’t resist the temptation to tell Lennie to “get” Curley.

George has strong moral views as seen by his distaste for brothels. Is his morality that tells him that Lennie can’t just run away when he was murder someone.

Full of compassion and it is this that makes him prefer clean death for Lennie rather than suffering.

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Lennie is likened as a bear appropriate because he has a similar duality. At times he can be cute childish like a teddy bear, yet at the same time he can be dangerous & unrespectable like a real bear.

Lennie is a simpleton he is effectively a Childs mind in an immensely strong man’s body. Sympathy7 – he can’t learn how to control his body, he is amazed and upset when the puppy & the mice die he cannot believe his own strength or their weakness (their fault they died)

Lennie is innocent and his innocence makes the reader sympathise with him in the same way George does.

He is often described in animal like terms (River) his mind and body can’t cope with the complex modern living society & only way he can survive is to be tethered by George.

He is extremely cunning like a child; often using situation to their advantage e.g. plays on Georges feelings of guilt “if you don’t want me, you jus got to say so”

He has strong instincts “I don’t like this place George”

LIKE A CHILD FORGETS important information. “I dunno George”

His childish nature leads him to hide things he knows he shouldn’t have e.g. mouse – pg5,47,97,

He doesn’t understand complex ideas pg.11

He enjoys being told the dream although he recites every word of it he gets the childish exciting from George telling it, like a bedtime story

His limited intelligence means he doesn’t understand colloquial phrases or saying like “let him have it2- let him have what George.

He is intimidated and confused by Curley’s wife.

Lennie has no social skills 

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He is a jekline skinner – prince of the ranch

He has great authority over the other ranch hands. His voice is so quiet and his manners so grave that everyone has to stop to listen to him.

His word is taken on any subject

Slims understands the bond between Georgre and Lennie he comes to a character judgment on Lennie “he aint mean”

He is the only character who understands why George has to kill Lennie “you hadda George, I swear you hadda. 

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He is a minor character – a ranch hand

He nags and intimidates candy into getting rid of his dog Pg47 suggest dog should be shot because it is in pain but really is selfish as object to smell of dog.

Carlson represents a man turned mean by the lonely life of a ranch worker. He shows no sensitivity or regard for suffering of others suggested by his reaction to death of dog and Lennie

He doesn’t understand George grief of Lennie “now what the hell ya supposed is eatin them two guys”


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He lost his right hand in an accident now reduced to the swamper – lowest job on ranch

His function in the novel is to show the reader what happen to an old man beset by a psychical disability

He is a pathetic figure who lost control over his life.  His passers the time by gossiping

The reader is shown how little it takes to revitalise candy – ten acres and a few animals

The candy and dog story is parallel to George and Lennie story – clinging on to dog like George is with Lennie

Is it the dog’s death which indirectly brings candy in on the dream – while dog being shot him here George and Lennie talking about it?

He feels guilt that someone else is shooting his dog, he should have done it.

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He is an illustration of the way in which lonlyness can corrupt and destroy a man. He is essentially good but he is desperate 

He has a double burden a cripple and a Negro in a racist society

The true horror of his situation is revealed when Curley’s wife verbally crushes him when he tried to stand up to her (pg85) no Negro can’t stand up to white man or women

His function in the story is forewarn the reader of the imminent destruction of George and Lennie dream

He is aggressive and defensive if people invade his personal space he has been humiliated so many times his defence rate is high

He enjoys upsetting Lennie pg75 he enjoys the power which he never gets and the fact of someone else being lonely as he is. But essentially a good character and feels guilt when Lennie gets upset 

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He is a spoilt, restless young man with a grudge against the whole world “He hates big buys, He`s alla time picking scraps with big guys, kind of like he`s mad at them because he aint a big guy”

He’s had some success with amateur boxing something that become such a obsession so everybody

He meets is a possible opponent

He makes obscene allusions about his young wife, goes to brothel on Saturday, then complains when his wife seeks pleasure in a similar vein

He is obsessive about his wife and becomes laughing stock of ranch as he is constantly looking for her.

Curley is a man bordering evil he is the most unpleasant and unattractive character in the novel.

He is aggressive argumentivitve and confrontational. 

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Curleys Wife

She is a pathetic figure & victim of loneliness

She has married Curley as a result of being disapoiting about a supposed invitation to go to Hollywood

She is a “tart” but is not realty evil and her punishment outweighs any crimes she may have committed. There is even the possibility she could have been a loving wife having met the right man

She threatens crooks when he rejects her; she doesn’t like being rejected so refers to her authority

She reflects on her life during a conversation with crooks

Even though her behaviour around the ranch is not attractive, Steinbeck shows her compassion when she died in her death, her face is wiped clean of its recent experiences and she appears a beautiful young girl again; sweet and innocent. Even candies initial reponse to her is as the destroyer of the dream “you goddam tramp” yet changed when he sees her dead “poor *******” 

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