OF MICE AND MEN THEME QUOTES

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  • Created on: 23-04-13 20:03

DREAMS, HOPES AND PLANS - CHAPTER 1

"I remember about the rabbits, George."

"The hell with the rabbits. That's all you can ever remember is them rabbits." (1.18-19)

All of Lennie's future is wrapped up in rabbits. On the one hand, it's nice to have a concrete goal. On the other hand, this is about as unrealistic for him as it would be if George wanted to become president. 

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DREAMS, HOPES AND PLANS - CHAPTER 1

"Well, we ain't got any," George exploded. "Whatever we ain't got, that's what you want. God a'mighty, if I was alone I could live so easy. I could go get a job an' work, an' no trouble. No mess at all, and when the end of the month come I could take my fifty bucks and go into town and get whatever I want. Why, I could stay in a cathouse all night. I could eat any place I want, hotel or any place, and order any damn thing I could think of. An' I could do all that every damn month. Get a gallon of whisky, or set in a pool room and play cards or shoot pool." Lennie knelt and looked over the fire at the angry George. And Lennie's face was drawn in with terror. "An' whatta I got," George went on furiously. "I got you! You can't keep a job and you lose me ever' job I get. Jus' keep me shovin' all over the country all the time." (1.89)

Some dreams involve a farm of one's own; some dreams involve "cathouses" and "pool rooms." Of course, George is just lashing out. All he really wants is Lennie

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DREAMS, HOPES AND PLANS - CHAPTER 1

"O.K. Someday—we're gonna get the jack together and we're gonna have a little house and a couple of acres an' a cow and some pigs and—""An' live off the fatta the lan'," Lennie shouted. "An' have rabbits. Go on, George! Tell about what we're gonna have in the garden and about the rabbits in the cages and about the rain in the winter and the stove, and how thick the cream is on the milk like you can hardly cut it. Tell about that George.""Why'n't you do it yourself? You know all of it.""No…you tell it. It ain't the same if I tell it. Go on…George. How I get to tend the rabbits." (1.119-123)

The farm might as well be Lennie's bedtime story. When we encounter the dream farm this way, we're primed to recognize that it's never going to be a reality—but at this points, it's not clear whether the characters know.

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DREAMS, HOPES AND PLANS - CHAPTER 3

"Sure," said George. "All kin's a vegetables in the garden, and if we want a little whisky we can sell a few eggs or something, or some milk. We'd jus' live there. We'd belong there. There wouldn't be no more runnin' round the country and gettin' fed by a Jap cook. No, sir, we'd have our own place where we belonged and not sleep in no bunk house." (3.202-203)

George's story about the dream farm is so detailed that it almost sounds like a plan, complete with how they're going to get whisky. So what's the difference between a dream and a plan? Just money? Or something more?

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DREAMS, HOPES AND PLANS - CHAPTER 3

When Candy spoke they both jumped as though they had been caught doing something reprehensible. (3.212)

All George and Lennie are doing is talking about their farm, but they act like they're doing something forbidden. On the ranch, there's something pitiful about this kind of dream. For Candy to hear them talking is almost as though they are exposed

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DREAMS, HOPES AND PLANS - CHAPTER 3

They fell into a silence. They looked at one another, amazed. This thing they had never really believed in was coming true. (3.221) 

Candy's money might make the dream farm a reality. It looks like maybe money is the difference between a dream and a plan—and we also find out here that even Lennie never really believed in the dream. On some level, he also thought it was just a story.

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DREAMS, HOPES AND PLANS - CHAPTER 4

"I seen hunderds of men come by on the road an' on the ranches, with their bindles on their back an' that same damn thing in their heads. Hunderds of them. They come, an' they quit an' go on; an' every damn one of 'em's got a little piece of land in his head. An' never a God damn one of 'em ever gets it." (4.62)

Crooks is a little too happy to point out that George and Lennie aren't the first ones to have a dream: every itinerant ranch hand just wants a little plot of land. Are George and Lennie going to make it good—or are they just going to "quit an' go on," like everyone else

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DREAMS, HOPES AND PLANS - CHAPTER 4

[Crooks] hesitated. "… If you … guys would want a hand to work for nothing—just his keep, why I'd come an' lend a hand. I ain't so crippled I can work like a son-of-a-***** if I want to." (4.88)

Crooks has a dream, too, and it's a really sad dream: he esentially wants to be a slave again. Life in the 1930s was hard for everyone, but it was particularly hard for poor black men, who were often stuck doing the same work that their ancestors did under slavery but without even the minimal care of having food and clothing—instead, they got wages so low that they could barely survive. Their American dream of being free might not be so dream-like, after all. NB Steinbeck wasnt endorsing slavery but criticizing a system that essentially amounted to wage slavery

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DREAMS, HOPES AND PLANS - CHAPTER 4

Crooks called, "Candy!"

" 'Member what I said about hoein' and doin' odd jobs?"

"Yeah," said Candy. "I remember."

"Well, jus' forget it," said Crooks. "I didn' mean it. Jus' foolin'. I wouldn' want to go no place like that."

"Well, O.K., if you feel like that. Goodnight." (4.148-153)

After Mrs. Curley comes in and mocks them all, Crooks seems to realize that the farm is nothing but a fantasy. Despite his dream being minimal, now he doesn't even get to have that anymore.

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DREAMS, HOPES AND PLANS - CHAPTER 5

George said softly, "—I think I knowed from the very first. I think I knowed we'd never do her. He usta like to hear about it so much I got to thinking maybe we would." (5.78)

It turns out that dreams, hopes, and plans aren't worth all that much when you know they'll never come true in the first place. But maybe George clung to their shared dream because it helped him continue along through a rather tough life. Otherwise, why even bother?

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DREAMS, HOPES AND PLANS - CHAPTER 6

Lennie said, "George."

"Yeah?"

"I done another bad thing."

"It don't make no difference," George said, and he fell silent again. (6.34-37)

Lennie knows he messed up, but we're pretty sure he doesn't understand the extent to which he's been getting in the way of his and George's dreams. George is crushed , but it sounds here like he's almost resigned to it, too.

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FRIENDSHIP - CHAPTER 1

They had walked in single file down the path, and even in the open one stayed behind the other. Both were dressed in denim trousers and in denim coats with brass buttons. Both wore black, shapeless hats and both carried tight blanket rolls slung over their shoulders. (1.4)

This is our first introduction to Lennie and George. On the one hand, we know right away that they're not equals: one man is walking behind another. On the other hand, they're dressed identically. Is this a relationship of equals? Or is inequality always a part of friendships?

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FRIENDSHIP - CHAPTER 1

Lennie, who had been watching, imitated George exactly. He pushed himself back, drew up his knees, embraced them, looked over to George to see whether he had it just right. He pulled his hat down a little more over his eyes, the way George's hat was

Lennie's behaviour this is just part of his metal handicap: George is less of a friend than parent, role model, and idol all wrapped up into one.

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FRIENDSHIP - CHAPTER 1

"I was only foolin', George. I don't want no ketchup. I wouldn't eat no ketchup if it was right here beside me."

"If it was here, you could have some."

"But I wouldn't eat none, George. I'd leave it all for you. You could cover your beans with it and I wouldn't touch none of it." (1.93-95) 

Lennie may not be able to look out for George, but he does what he can for his friend—like give him all the imaginary ketchup.

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FRIENDSHIP - CHAPTER 1

"Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world. They got no family. They don't belong no place. They come to a ranch an' work up a stake and then they go inta town and blow their stake, and the first thing you know they're poundin' their tail on some other ranch. They ain't got nothing to look ahead to." (1.113)

It's hard out there for a ranchhand. Steinbeck seems to be saying that the loneliness is even worse than the poverty: like Lennie and George, you can bear a lot more if you have a friend.

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FRIENDSHIP - CHAPTER 1

"With us it ain't like that. We got a future. We got somebody to talk to that gives a damn about us. We don't have to sit in no bar room blowin' in our jack jus' because we got no place else to go. If them other guys gets in jail they can rot for all anybody gives a damn. But not us."

Lennie broke in. "But not us! An' why? Because… because I got you to look after me, and you got me to look after you, and that's why." He laughed delightedly. "Go on now, George!" (1.115-116)

This sounds a lot like "All for One." Lennie may not be quite holding up his end of the bargain, but he still understands that friendship means sticking together.

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FRIENDSHIP - CHAPTER 2

"We travel together," said George coldly.

"Oh, so it's that way."

George was tense and motionless. "Yea, it's that way." (2.80-82)

By saying "Oh, so it's that way," Curley is essentially accusing Lennie and George of being gay. But George doesn't take the bait. It just shows how pathetic Curley is that he can't understand the men's friendship.

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FRIENDSHIP - CHAPTER 3

"It ain't so funny, him an' me goin' aroun' together," George said at last. "Him and me was both born in Auburn. I knowed his Aunt Clara. She took him when he was a baby and raised him up. When his Aunt Clara died, Lennie just come along with me out workin'. Got kinda used to each other after a little while." (3.12)

George's understated declaration of friendship "got kinda used to each other." is reflective of their reliance on each other

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FRIENDSHIP - CHAPTER 3

The old man [Candy] squirmed uncomfortably. "Well-hell! I had him so long. Had him since he was a pup. I herded sheep with him." He said proudly, "You wouldn't think it to look at him now, but he was the best damn sheep dog I ever seen." (3.56) 

This is almost the exact same thing that George says about Lennie: he's "had him so long." But can you really be friends with a dog? Or someone who's way mentally inferior to you?

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FRIENDSHIP - CHAPTER 4

Crooks scowled, but Lennie's disarming smile defeated him. "Come on in and set a while," Crooks said. "'Long as you won't get out and leave me alone, you might as well set down." His tone was a little more friendly. (4.22)

Crooks has been lonely and friendless for so long that he almost can't deal with someone trying to be nice to him. 

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FRIENDSHIP - CHAPTER 4

"George can tell you screwy things, and it don't matter It's just the talking. It's just bein' with another guy. That's all." (4.39-40) 

Crooks is trying to communicate that It doesn't matterwhat you're talking about—just that you're making a connection. 

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ISOLATION - CHAPTER 1

"Well, we ain't got any," George exploded. "Whatever we ain't got, that's what you want. God a'mighty, if I was alone I could live so easy. I could go get a job an' work, an' no trouble. No mess at all, and when the end of the month come I could take my fifty bucks and go into town and get whatever I want. Why, I could stay in a cathouse all night. I could eat any place I want, hotel or any place, and order any damn thing I could think of. An' I could do all that every damn month. Get a gallon of whisky, or set in a pool room and play cards or shoot pool." Lennie knelt and looked over the fire at the angry George. And Lennie's face was drawn in with terror. "An' whatta I got," George went on furiously. "I got you! You can't keep a job and you lose me ever' job I get. Jus' keep me shovin' all over the country all the time." (1.89)

George wishes for isolation unlike the other characters who are trapped in isolation

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ISOLATION - CHAPTER 1

"If you don' want me I can g off in the hills an' find a cave. I can go away any time."

"No—look! I was jus' foolin', Lennie. 'Cause I want you to stay with me." (1.103-104)

Poor Lennie almost literally offers to go jump in a lake if George doesn't want him anymore, but George doesn't really want the chance to stay in a whorehouse for as long as he wants. Hanging out with Lennie is better than a gallon of whisky any night.

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ISOLATION - CHAPTER 2

"I said what stake you got in this guy? You takin' his pay away from him?" "No, 'course I ain't. Why you think I'm sellin' him out?" "Well, I never seen one guy take so much trouble for another guy. I just like to know what your interest is." (2.45-47)

The Boss is so confused by George and Lennie's relationship that he can't stop trying to figure out what the angle is. For some reason it doesn't occur to him that George just might not want to be alone

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ISOLATION - CHAPTER 2

"A guy on a ranch don't never listen nor he don't ast no questions." (2.67)

Candy gives us a pretty good definition of an isolated person: someone who doesn't ask questions and someone who doesn't listen—in other words, not much of a conversationalist. We're getting the feeling that, for Steinbeck, isolation is mostly about silences… which makes friendship mostly about conversation.

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ISOLATION - CHAPTER 2

Slim looked through George and beyond him. "Ain't many guys travel around together," he mused. "I don't know why. Maybe ever'body in the whole damn world is scared of each other." (2.179)

If being together is so great, you'd think that more guys would team up.  But they don't. Is it more dangerous to be together? In this world, it just might be.

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ISOLATION - CHAPTER 3

"I seen the guys that go around on the ranches alone. That ain't no good. They don't have no fun. After a long time they get mean. They get wantin' to fight all the time." (3.17)

these ranch loners have been alone for so long that they're desperate to make any connection—even a violent one. 

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ISOLATION - CHAPTER 3

"I don't want no fights," said Lennie. He got up from his bunk and sat down at the table, across from George. Almost automatically George shuffled the cards and laid out his solitaire hand. He used a deliberate, thoughtful, slowness. (3.177)

Lennie avoids fighting by showing off his connection with George, and what does George do? Play solitaire. Is this showing us that Lennie and George don't really have a true connection—or is it evidence that you don't always need to be talking to be together?

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ISOLATION - CHAPTER 3

George half-closed his eyes. "I gotta think about that. We was always gonna do it by ourselves." Candy interrupted him, "I'd make a will an' leave my share to you guys in case I kick off, 'cause I ain't got no relatives or nothing…" (3.218-219)

Candy is so isolated that he doesn't even have relatives to leave his money to. 

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ISOLATION - CHAPTER 4

Lennie smiled helplessly in an attempt to make friends.

Crooks said sharply, "You got no right to come in my room. This here's my room. Nobody got any right in here but me." (4.7-8)

Isolated because of his skin color, Crooks has been alone for so long he doesn't even want to make a friend.

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ISOLATION - CHAPTER 4

"I was born right here in Southern California. My old man had a chicken ranch, ‘bout ten acres. The white kids come to play at our place, an’ sometimes I went to play with them, and some of them was pretty nice. My ‘ol man didn’t like that. I never knew till long later why he didn’t like that. But I know now." He hesitated, and when he spoke again his voice was softer. "There wasn’t another colored family for miles around. And now there ain’t a colored man on this ranch an’ there’s jus’ one family in Soledad." (4.37)

Crooks is black, which makes him an automatic outcast. Even if we wanted to reach out and touch someone, he wouldn't be able to. You'd think that things like skin color would matter less on a ranch in the middle of nowhere—but somehow they seem to matter more.

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INNOCENCE - CHAPTER 1

"Tha's good," he said. "You drink some, George. You take a good big drink." He smiled happily. (1.7)

George has just reamed Lennie out for drinking too fast, but Lennie is so innocent that he doesn't even get mad. He just smiles "happily" when George takes a drink. From this perspective, innocence doesn't look too bad.

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INNOCENCE - CHAPTER 1

George looked sharply at him. "What'd you take outa that pocket?"

"Ain't a thing in my pocket," Lennie said cleverly.

"I know there ain't. You got it in your hand…" (1.25-27)

Lennie isn't actually being "clever" at all. He is very childlike and believes George does not know about his mouse

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INNOCENCE - CHAPTER 2

NARRATION. And these shelves were loaded with little articles, soap and talcum powder, razors and those Western magazines ranch men love to read and scoff at and secretly believe. (2.1)

These magazines present an idealized version of masculinity that only an idiot—or an innocent—would take literally. So, are all these  ranchhands really innocent, in some way?

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INNOCENCE - CHAPTER 2

Lennie cried out suddenly—"I don' like this place, George. This ain't no good place. I wanna get outa here." (2.165) 

Lennie may not be intellegent, but he has a kind of gut-instinct that makes him sensitive to bad vibes on the ranch. Too bad George, who's a relative genius compared to Lennie, doesn't listen.

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INNOCENCE - CHAPTER 3

Slim sat in silence for a moment. "Didn't hurt the girl none, huh?" he asked finally.

"Hello no. He just scared her. I'd be scared too, if he grabbed me. But he never hurt her. He jus' wanted to touch that red dress, like he wants to pet them pups all the time."

"He ain't mean," said Slim. "I can tell a mean guy from a mile off." (3.28-30) 

Slim is our Wise Old Master, so if he says Lennie isn't "mean," then it must be true. He's just dumb. "in-nocent" essentially means "free of harm," since "nocere" means "to harm" in Latin. 

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INNOCENCE - CHAPTER 3

Slim had not moved. His calm eyes followed Lennie out of the door. "Jesus," he said. "He's jes' like a kid, ain't he."

"Sure, he's jes like a kid. There ain't no more harm in him than a kid neither, except he's so strong." (3.44-45)

Emphatic of Lennie's childlike innocence

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INNOCENCE - CHAPTER 4

The stable buck went on dreamily, "I remember when I was little kid on my old man's chicken ranch. Had two brothers. They was always near me, always there. Used to sleep right in the same room, right in the same bed—all three. Had a strawberry patch. Had an alfalfa patch. Used to turn the chickens out in the alfalfa on a sunny morning. My brothers'd set on a fence rail an' watch 'em—white chickens they was." (4.58) 

Crooks had an innocent childhood a painful contrats to his current life of isolation

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INNOCENCE - CHAPTER 5

Lennie went back and looked at the dead girl. The puppy lay close to her. Lennie picked it up. "I'll throw him away," he said. "It's bad enough like it is." (5.59) 

Lennie knows he's done a "bad" thing, but he's so innocent that he somehow thinks throwing away the puppy is going to make it look better. 

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INNOCENCE - CHAPTER 6

And when they were gone, Candy squatted down in the hay and watched the face of Curley's wife. "Poor *******," he said softly. (5.112)

Not "poor girl," but "poor *******." We get the feeling that Candy knows who the real victim is here: not Curley's wife, who he thinks brought it on herself, but innocent Lennie

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FREEDOM AND CONFINEMENT - CHAPTER 1

"George—why ain't we goin' on to the ranch and get some supper? They got supper at the ranch."

George rolled on his side. "No reason at all for you. I like it here. Tomorra we're gonna go to work. I seen thrashin' machines on the way down. That means we'll be bucking grain bags, bustin' a gut. Tonight I'm gonna lay right here and look up. I like it." (1.60-61)

George revels in this rare momnent which appears to be the epitome of freedom

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FREEDOM AND CONFINEMENT - CHAPTER 1

"I wish I could put you in a cage with about a million mice an' let you have fun." His anger left him suddenly. He looked across the fire at Lennie's anguished face, and then he looked ashamedly at the flames. (1.89)

George is essentially saying that he'd like to lock Lennie up. But, with a million mice to pet, would Lennie really experience it as confinement? Or would it be the best type of freedom—the freedom to do exactly what he wants all day?

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FREEDOM AND CONFINEMENT - CHAPTER 2

When the sound of the footsteps had died away, George turned on Lennie. "So you wasn't gonna say a word. You was gonna leave your big flapper shut and leave me do the talkin'. Damn near lost us the job."

Lennie stared helplessly at his hands. "I forgot, George."

"Yea, you forgot. You always forget, an' I got to talk you out of it." He sat down heavily on the bunk. "Now he's got his eye on us. Now we got to be careful and not make no slips. You keep your big flapper shut after this." He fell morosely silent. (2.56-59)

Lennie's behavour might lose them the opportunity to work the job that will help them buy their little bit of freedom.

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FREEDOM AND CONFINEMENT - CHAPTER 2

"For two bits I'd shove out of here. If we can get jus' a few dollars in the poke we'll shove off and go up the American River and pan gold. We can make maybe a couple of dollars a day there, and we might hit a pocket." Lennie leaned eagerly toward him. "Le's go, George. Le's get outta here. It's mean here." "We gotta stay," George said shortly. "Shut up now. The guys'll be comin' in." (2.166-168)

Despite his ffantasies george is a realist. The freedom to starve while chasing a fool's dream is not the kind of freedom he wants.

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FREEDOM AND CONFINEMENT - CHAPTER 3

Whit found the place again, but he did not surrender his hold on it. He pointed out the letter with his forefinger. And then he went to his box shelf and laid the magazine carefully in. "I wonder if Bill seen it," he said. "Bill and me worked in that patch of field peas. Run cultivators, both of us. Bill was a hell of a nice fella." (3.79) 

By publishing a letter Bill achieves a kind of freedom that none of the other guys have. His voice makes it off the ranches and into the wide world—even if henever does.


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FREEDOM AND CONFINEMENT - CHAPTER 3

"And it'd be our own, an' nobody could can us. If we don't like a guy we can say, 'Get the hell out,' and by God he's got to do it. An' if a fren' come along, why we'd have an extra bunk, an' we'd say, 'Why don't you spen' the night?' An' by God he would." (3.209) 

For Lennie and George, a key part of the dream farm is the freedom to let their friends stay with them

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FREEDOM AND CONFINEMENT - CHAPTER 3

George said wonderingly, "S'pose they was a carnival or a circus come to town, or a ball game, or any damn thing." Old Candy nodded in appreciation of the idea. "We'd just go to her," George said. "We wouldn't ask nobody if we could. Jus' say, "We'll go to her,' an' we would. Jus' milk the cow and sling some grain to the chickens an' go to her." (3.224) 

George is most overwhelmed by the idea that the dream would allow them to do anything they wanted whenever they wanted. 

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FREEDOM AND CONFINEMENT - CHAPTER 4

"Awright," she said contemptuously. "Awright, cover 'im up if ya wanta. Whatta I care? You bindle bums think you're so damn good. Whatta ya think I am, a kid? I tell ya I could of went with shows. Not jus' one, neither. An' a guy tol' me he could put me in pitchers…" She was breathless with indignation. "—Sat'iday night. Ever'body out doin' som'pin'. Ever'body! An' what am I doin'? Standin' here talkin' to a bunch of bindle stiffs—a ****** an' a dum-dum and a lousy ol' sheep—an' likin' it because they ain't nobody else." (4.102-103)

Curley's wife is so confined because she can't even pick up and move onto a new job when she gets sick of the old one. She's stuck with Curley for the rest of her (short) life. 

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FREEDOM AND CONFINEMENT - CHAPTER 5

Slim nodded. "We might," he said. "If we could keep Curley in, we might, But Curley's gonna want to shoot 'im. Curley's still mad about his hand. An' s'pose they lock him up an' strap him down and put him in a cage. That ain't no good, George." (5.97)

Being locked up in a cage is no good for Lennie, but aren't all the farm hands trapped in some way? They might not be in cages, but they're stuck all the same. 

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FREEDOM AND CONFINEMENT - CHAPTER 6

Lennie said, "I thought you was mad at me, George."

"No," said George. "No, Lennie, I ain't mad. I never been mad, and I ain' now. That's a thing I want ya to know." (6.87-88)

Lennie's biggest fear isn't being locked up: it's being locked out. To him, being on George's bad side would be about worse than anything. 

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JUSTICE - CHAPTER 1

"O.K.," said George. "An' you ain't gonna do no bad things like you done in Weed, neither."Lennie looked puzzled. "Like I done in Weed?""Oh, so ya forgot that too, did ya? Well, I ain't gonna remind ya, fear ya do it again."A light of understanding broke on Lennie's face."They run us outa Weed," he exploded triumphantly."Run us out, hell," said George disgustedly. "We run. They was lookin' for us, but they didn't catch us." Lennie giggled happily. "I didn't forget that, you bet." (1.50-55)

Lennie obviously has no concept of consequences, since he can't even remember the wrong that he did. So we have to ask: is it just for George to keep dragging Lennie around with him? Or should George have taken action before Lennie ended up killing someone?

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JUSTICE - CHAPTER 1

[George] heard Lennie's whimpering cry and wheeled about. "Blubberin' like a baby! Jesus Christ! A big guy like you!" Lennie's lip quivered and tears started in his eyes. "Aw, Lennie!" George put his hand on Lennie's shoulder. "I ain't takin' it away jus' for meanness. That mouse ain't fresh, Lennie; and besides, you've broke it pettin' it. You get another mouse that's fresh and I'll let you keep it a little while." (1.76) 

George is just trying to be nice to Lennie by offering him another mouse—but what kind of justice is offering up innocent mice as sacrificial petting victims?

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JUSTICE - CHAPTER 1

"Lennie—if you jus' happen to get in trouble like you always done before, I want you to come right here an' hide in the brush… Hide in the brush till I come for you." (1.130) 

We're starting to suspect that George doesn't have much sense of justice. He knows that Lennie doesn't mean any harm, but the fact is that he does harm: he kills mice; he terrifies women; and he's going to end up killing someone. We have to say it: maybe George shouldn't be protecting Lennie.

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JUSTICE - CHAPTER 2

"Well, Curley's pretty handy," the swamper said skeptically. "Never did seem right to me. S'pose Curley jumps a big guy an' licks him. Ever'body says what a game guy Curley is. And s'pose he does the same thing and gets licked. Then ever'body says the big guy oughtta pick on somebody his own size, and maybe they gang up on the big guy. Never did seem right to me. Seem like Curley ain't givin' nobody a chance." (2.93) 

Candy may not be too smart, but he's smart enough to get it: Curley's gaming the system. It may not be very fair or just for someone like Lennie to pound on a little guy like Curley—but it's also not fair of Curley to provoke Lennie, knowing that Lennie's going to get in trouble for not picking on someone his own size.


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JUSTICE - CHAPTER 2

"Don't let him pull you in—but—if the son-of-a-***** socks you—let 'im have it." (2.131)

It is apparent that if challenged you must fight as an act of justice

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JUSTICE - CHAPTER 2

His [Slim's] ear heard more than was said to him, and his slow speech had overtones not of thought, but of understanding beyond thought. His hands, large and lean, were as delicate in their action as those of a temple dancer. (2.170)

Slim might as well have a direct line to God, the way Steinbeck talks about it and so he is the guarantor of justice

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JUSTICE - CHAPTER 3

Slim sat in silence for a moment. "Didn't hurt the girl none, huh?" he asked finally. "Hell no. He just scared her. I'd be scared too, if he grabbed me. But he never hurt her. He jus' wanted to touch that red dress, like he wants to pet them pups all the time." "He ain't mean," said Slim. "I can tell a mean guy from a mile off." (3.28-30)

To be truly just, do we have to take intention into consideration—or is it the action that counts?

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JUSTICE - CHAPTER 3

"I ought to of shot that dog myself, George. I shouldn't ought to of let no stranger shoot my dog." (3.234)  

you'd better not condemn someone to death unless you're willing to carry out the execution. It's not very manly, and it's not very just.

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JUSTICE - CHAPTER 3

George said, "Slim, will we get canned now? We need the stake. Will Curley's old man can us now?" Slim smiled wryly. He knelt down beside Curley. "You got your senses in hand enough to listen?" he asked. Curley nodded. "Well then listen," Slim went on. "I think you got your han' caught in a machine. If you don't tell nobody what happened, we ain't going to. But you jus' tell an' try to get this guy canned and we'll tell ever'body, an' then will you get the laugh. (3.259-260)

Slim is the ranch's judge, jury, and jailor: he assess the situation, decides who needs to be punished, and then carries out that punishment. It works okay if a guy like Slim is in charge, but what happens if a guy like Curley managed to gain control? Or is Steinbeck saying that only a man like Slim could earn the necessary respect?

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JUSTICE - CHAPTER 5

Slim sighed. "Well, I guess we got to get him…" (5.93)

Crushing a man's hand under extreme provocation is one thing; killing a woman is another. Even Slim admits that Lennie has to be brought to some sort of justice—but not the justice that Curley wants, because that's no justice at all.

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JUSTICE - CHAPTER 6

Slim came directly to George and sat down beside him, sat very close to him. "Never you mind," said Slim. "A guy got to sometimes." (6.96)

Slim takes the role of a Priest He's essentially absolving George of the sin of murder here, saying that it was  the just—thing to do.

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VISIONS OF AMERICA - CHAPTER 1

There is a path through the willows and among the sycamores, a path beaten hard by boys coming down from the ranches to swim in the deep pool, and beaten hard by tramps who come wearily down from the highway in the evening to jungle-up near water. (1.2)

Something about this sentence makes us think that Steinbeck is suggesting that those carefree boys coming down for a swim—probably full of their own American Dreams—are going to grow up to be those tired, glum tramps.

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VISIONS OF AMERICA - CHAPTER 1

"Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world. They got no family. They don't belong no place. They come to a ranch an' work up a stake and then they go inta town and blow their stake, and the first thing you know they're poundin' their tail on some other ranch. They ain't got nothing to look ahead to." (1.113)

Whatever the American Dream is, this isn't it: a bunch of lonely, itinerant farmworkers that George describes as being without family or hope. Steinbeck seems to be saying that you can't build a nation on these men—and we're inclined to agree.

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VISIONS OF AMERICA - CHAPTER 2

"For two bits I'd shove out of here. If we can get jus' a few dollars in the poke we'll shove off and go up the American River and pan gold. We can make maybe a couple of dollars a day there, and we might hit a pocket." (2.166)

What George fantasizes about here is a Grade A American Dream: heading out West to pan for gold, and striking it rich. Too bad that's only ever happened to maybe a handful of people in the entire country. The people who really got rich from the gold rush were the shopkeepers: it's not as romantic, but everyone needs to buy shovels and boots.

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VISIONS OF AMERICA - CHAPTER 2

…he moved with a majesty only achieved by royalty and master craftsman. He was a jerkline skinner, the prince of the ranch, capable of driving ten, sixteen, even twenty mules with a single line to the leaders. He was capable of killing a fly on the wheeler's **** with a bull whip without touching the mule. There was a gravity in his manner and a quiet so profound that all talk stopped when he spoke, His authority was so great that his word was taken on any subject, be it politics or love. This was Slim, the jerkline skinner. (2.170)

Slim, is the epitome of the  American Dream: the cowboy, sheriff. 

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VISIONS OF AMERICA - CHAPTER 3

"…If I was bright, if I was even a little bit smart, I'd have my own little place, an' I'd be bringin' in my own crops, 'stead of doin' all the work and not getting what comes up outa the ground." (3.11)

George seems to think that he could achieve the elusive American Dream of having his "own little place" if he were just a little smarter. But from what we see, it has nothing to with smarts and everything to do with the odds being stacked against him. If everyone could achieve the American Dream, would it still be a dream?

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VISIONS OF AMERICA - CHAPTER 3

Lennie watched him with wide eyes, and old Candy watched him too. Lennie said softly, "We could live offa the fatta the lan'."

"Sure," said George. "All kin's a vegetables in the garden, and if we want a little whisky we can sell a few eggs or something, or some milk. We'd jus' live there. We'd belong there. There wouldn't be no more runnin' round the country and gettin' fed by a Jap cook. No, sir, we'd have our own place where we belonged and not sleep in no bunk house." (3.202-203)

 George and Lennie's little version of the American Dream includes a kind of masculine domesticity—no girls allowed.

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VISIONS OF AMERICA - CHAPTER 4

"You’re nuts." Crooks was scornful. "I seen hunderds of men come by on the road an’ on the ranches, with their bindles on their back an’ that same damn thing in their heads. Hunderds of them. They come, an’ they quit an’ go on; an’ every damn one of ‘em’s got a little piece of land in his head/ An’ never a God damn one of ‘em ever gets it. Just like heaven. Ever’body wants a little piece of lan’. I read plenty of books out here. Nobody never gets to heaven, and nobody gets no land. It’s just in their head. They’re all the time talkin’ about it, but it’s jus’ in their head." (4.64)

No wonder Crooks doesn't have any friends as he consistently nehgative. But Crooks knows what he's talking about. George and Lennie aren't the first ones to have the American Dream, and they're not going to be the first who don't get it.

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VISIONS OF AMERICA - CHAPTER 4

"You’re nuts." Crooks was scornful. "I seen hunderds of men come by on the road an’ on the ranches, with their bindles on their back an’ that same damn thing in their heads. Hunderds of them. They come, an’ they quit an’ go on; an’ every damn one of ‘em’s got a little piece of land in his head/ An’ never a God damn one of ‘em ever gets it. Just like heaven. Ever’body wants a little piece of lan’. I read plenty of books out here. Nobody never gets to heaven, and nobody gets no land. It’s just in their head. They’re all the time talkin’ about it, but it’s jus’ in their head." (4.64)

No wonder Crooks doesn't have any friends as he consistently nehgative. But Crooks knows what he's talking about. George and Lennie aren't the first ones to have the American Dream, and they're not going to be the first who don't get it.

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VISIONS OF AMERICA - CHAPTER 4

Candy said, "That ***** didn't ought to of said that to you."

"It wasn't nothing," Crooks said dully. "You guys comin' in an' settin' made me forget. What she says is true." (4.136-137)

Crooks has a vision of America where he can retain a little dignity working for Candy, Lennie, and George—but Curley's wife is happy to step all over his little American Dream, even though hers is just as unattainable.

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VISIONS OF AMERICA - CHAPTER 5

"I tell you I ain't used to livin' like this. I coulda made somethin' of myself." She said darkly, "Maybe I will yet." And then her words tumbled out in a passion of communication, as though she hurried before her listener could be taken away. "I lived right in Salinas," she said. "Come there when I was a kid. Well, a show come through, an' I met one of the actors. He says I could go with that show. But my ol' lady wouldn' let me. She says because I was on'y fifteen. But the guy says I coulda. If I'd went, I wouldn't be livin' like this, you bet." (5.34)

Making it big in Hollywood may have been a fairly new American Dream in the 1930s, but it was definitely sought after

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VISIONS OF AMERICA - CHAPTER 5

"Then—it’s all off?" Candy asked sulkily. George didn’t answer his question. George said, "I’ll work my month an’ I’ll take my fifty bucks an’ I’ll stay all night in some lousy cat house. Or I’ll set in some poolroom til ever’body goes home. An’ then I’ll come back an’ work another month an’ I’ll have fifty bucks more." (5.79-80)

At the end of the novel, George isn't any closer to his little slice of the American pie. In fact, he's farther away than ever, looking forward to a life of cat houses and pool rooms. That may be a fourteen-year-old boy's American Dream, but it's no life for a grown man. Unfortunately, it's the only life he knows.

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VIOLENCE - CHAPTER 1

"Where we goin', George?"

The little man jerked down the brim of his hat and scowled over at Lennie. "So you forgot that awready, did you? I gotta tell you again, do I? Jesus Christ, you're a crazy *******!"

"I forgot," Lennie said softly. (1.14-16)

Almost as soon as we meet him, George is stomping around the novel flinging verbal abuse as Lennie. Does Lennie acknowledge this as a kind of violence, or is he generally unaffected by it?

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VIOLENCE - CHAPTER 1

Lennie hesitated, backed away, looked wildly at the brush line as though he contemplated running for his freedom. George said coldly, "You gonna give me that mouse or do I have to sock you?" (1.70)

Does Lennie respond to reason and coaxing? Or is violence the only way George can get a response out of him?

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VIOLENCE - CHAPTER 1

Lennie looked sadly up at him. "They was so little," he said apologetically. "I’d pet ‘em, and pretty soon they bit my fingers and I pinched their heads a little and then they was dead—because they was so little. I wish’t we’d get the rabbits pretty soon, George. They ain’t so little." (1.79)

On a second look, it doesn't seem like these mice deaths are so accidental after all. They take place when Lennie retaliates against them by pinching their heads. He might not mean to kill them, but he definitely means to hurt them.

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VIOLENCE - CHAPTER 2

"I wasn't kicked in the head with no horse, was I, George?"

"Be a damn good thing if you was," George said viciously. "Save ever'body a hell of a lot of trouble." (2.61-62)

 Lennie's an adult—but does that make iGeorge's abuse okay? Or does his mental disability make him so childlike that George might as well be abusing a kid?

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VIOLENCE - CHAPTER 2

"You said I was your cousin, George."

"Well, that was a lie. An' I'm damn glad it was. If I was a relative of yours I'd shoot myself." (2.63-64)

Here George is very melodramatic but at least hes not actually threatening Lennie this time

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VIOLENCE - CHAPTER 2

"I’ll try to catch him," said Curley. His eyes passed over the new men and he stopped. He glanced coldly at George and then at Lennie. His arms gradually bent at the elbows and his hands closed into fists. He stiffened and went into a slight crouch. His glance was at once calculating and pugnacious. Lennie squirmed under the look and shifted his feet nervously. Curley stepped gingerly close to him. "You the new guys the old man was waitin’ for?" (2.74)

We get the feeling that, for Curley, challenging the new guys to a fight  is just what he does when he meets new people. 

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VIOLENCE - CHAPTER 3

A shot sounded in the distance. The men looked quickly at the old man. Every head turned toward him.

For a moment he continued to stare at the ceiling. Then he rolled slowly over and faced the wall and lay silent. (3.103)

Setting aside the fact that Candy really should have killed his own dog, is this a truly violent act? Or is it an act of mercy? Or can an act be violent and still merciful?

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VIOLENCE - CHAPTER 3

Lennie smiled with this bruised mouth. "I didn't want no trouble," he said. He walked toward the door, but just before he came to it, he turned back. "George?"

"What you want?"

"I can still tend the rabbits, George?"

"Sure. You ain't done nothing wrong."

"I di'n't mean no harm, George." (3.268-272)

Lennie may have meant no harm, but he still has a tendency to kill the animals in his care. So, maybe "doing no harm" isn't the best criteria for putting a man in charge of a warren full of rabbits.

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VIOLENCE - CHAPTER 4

"Well, you keep your place then, Nigger. I could get you strung up on a tree so easy it ain't even funny."

Crooks had reduced himself to nothing. There was no personality, no ego—nothing to arouse either like or dislike. He said, "Yes, ma'am," and his voice was toneless.

Notice that Curley's wife doesn't threaten to lynch Crooks; she threatens to "get" him lynched. She has to do all her violence by proxy—and in the world of this novel, that makes her weak and despicable.

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VIOLENCE - CHAPTER 5

"He was so little," said Lennie. "I was jus playin’ with him… an’ he made like he’s gonna bite me… an’ I made like I was gonna smack him … an’… an’ I done it. An’ then he was dead. She consoled him. "Don’t you worry none. He was jus’ a mutt. You can get another one easy. The whole country is fulla mutts." (5.25-26)

Lennie  is seen again to be retaliating against an animal maybe 1/32nd of his size.

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PREJUDICE - CHAPTER 1

"That ranch we're goin' to is right down there about a quarter mile. We're gonna go in an' see the boss. Now, look—I'll give him the work tickets, but you ain't gonna say a word. You jus' stand there and don't say nothing. If he finds out what a crazy ******* you are, we won't get no job, but if he sees ya work before he hears ya talk, we're set." (1.44)

Lennie may be a good worker, but is it really discrimination not to want to hire a "crazy *******," or is it just good sense? We think it might just be good sense

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PREJUDICE - CHAPTER 2

George patted a wrinkle out of his bed, and sat down. "[The boss gave] the stable buck hell?" he asked. "Sure. Ya see the stable buck's a ******." "Nigger, huh?" "Yeah. Nice fella too. Got a crooked back where a horse kicked him. The boss gives him hell when he's mad. But the stable buck don't give a damn about that. He reads a lot. Got books in his room." (2.15-17) 

Prejudice keeps Crooks isolated—but, by telling us that he "read a lot," Steinbeck seems to be suggesting that there's more to him than just skin color. It's a shame that none of the other characters—except maybe Lennie—seem to see that.

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PREJUDICE - CHAPTER 2

"Yes sir. Jesus, we had fun. They let the ****** come in that night. Little skinner name of Smitty took after the ******. Done pretty good, too. The guys wouldn't let him use his feet, so the ****** got him. If he coulda used his feet, Smitty says he woulda killed the ******. The guys said on account of the ******'s got a crooked back, Smitty can't use his feet." He paused in relish of the memory. (2.22)

Candy seems to be "relishing" the fight as a fight, and not just because it involves a crippled black man. (We will point out that he doesn't ever use Crooks's name, however.)

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PREJUDICE - CHAPTER 4

"…You go on get outta my room. I ain’t wanted in the bunk house, and you ain’t wanted in my room."

"Why ain’t you wanted?" Lennie asked.

"’Cause I’m black…" (4.10-11)

Lennie can’t fathom racial prejudice. We’ve already seen he doesn’t have a lot of the societal niceties down (like when to pet girls and when not to pet girls), but it’s actually pretty interesting that Lennie doesn’t think of Crooks as being different from himself. Remember, Lennie is more in touch with the natural side of things than the "civilized" side of things, so he doesn’t accept the "institution" of racism.

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PREJUDICE - CHAPTER 4

Crooks "This is just a ****** talkin', an' a busted-back ******. So it don't mean nothing, see?" (4.39)

In the world of the ranch, there are a lot of disadvantages to being crippled, black, mentally handicapped, or female. But, Crooks slyly points out, there are some advantages, too: no one holds you responsible for your actions. Whatever you say, "it don't mean nothing." Good point, but we're still not sure it's worth it.

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PREJUDICE - CHAPTER 4

Candy leaned against the wall beside the broken collar while he scratched his wrist stump. "I been here a long time," he said. "An' Crooks been here a long time. This's the first time I ever been in his room."

Crooks said darkly, "Guys don't come into a colored man's room very much." (4.76-77)

Prejudice works both ways: Crooks may be isolated because of his skin color, but the white guys might also be missing out on a good friend. (And, we have to ask: do you think Steinbeck is making a point by having the black man speak "darkly"? Too much of a stretch?)

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PREJUDICE - CHAPTER 4

She turned on him in scorn. "Listen, Nigger," she said. "You know what I can do to you if you open your trap?"

Crooks stared hopelessly at her, and then he sat down on his bunk and drew into himself. (4.116-117)

The only thing worse than being a woman on the ranch is being a black man. But Curley's wife doesn't feel any solidarity with Crooks: she just sees him as the one guy she can pick oninstead of try to pick up.

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WEAKNESS - CHAPTER 1

[Lennie] said gently, "George… I ain’t got mine. I musta lost it." He looked down at the ground in despair.

"You never had none, you crazy *******. I got both of ‘em here. Think I’d let you carry your own work card?" 

Lennie grinned with relief. (1.22-24)

George looks out for Lennie, so Lennie is definitely stronger with George around. But is the same true for George? Or does Lennie just bring him down?

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WEAKNESS - CHAPTER 1

[George] heard Lennie’s whimpering cry and wheeled about. "Blubberin’ like a baby! Jesus Christ! A big guy like you!" Lennie’s lip quivered and tears started in his eyes. "Aw, Lennie!" George put his hand on Lennie’s shoulder. "I ain’t takin’ it away jus’ for meanness. That mouse ain’t fresh, Lennie; and besides, you’ve broke it pettin’ it. You get another mouse that’s fresh and I’ll let you keep it a little while." (1.76)

Words like "whimpering" and "blubbering" aren't very dignified: Lennie isn't weeping like a man; he's whining like a baby. Is this weakness sympathetic—or just pathetic?

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WEAKNESS - CHAPTER 2

The boss pointed a playful finger at Lennie. "He ain't much of a talker, is he?"

"No, he ain't, but he's sure a hell of a good worker. Strong as a bull."

Lennie smiled to himself. "Strong as a bull," he repeated.

George scowled at him, and Lennie dropped his head in shame at having forgotten. (2.35-38)

Lennie is all brawn, and no brains—which, in Of Mice and Men, is a pretty dangerous combination. Of course, the opposite is true, too. You can't say that Curley is all brains, but he's definitely smarter than a lot of the ranchhands—smarter and smaller. Either way, you're out of luck. (Unless you're Slim.)

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WEAKNESS - CHAPTER 2

The swamper considered… "Well . . . tell you what. Curley’s like a lot of little guys. He hates big guys. He’s alla time picking scraps with big guys. Kind of like he’s mad at ‘em because he ain’t a big guy. You seen little guys like that, ain’t you? Always scrappy?" (2.91)

And here we are: Curley, who's makes his weakness into a strength. He's not "strong as a bull" like Lennie, but he's "scrappy." And in a match between slow, brute strength and scrappy wiliness, our money's on the wily one.

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WEAKNESS - CHAPTER 2

"Whyn't you get Candy to shoot his old dog and give him one of the pups to raise up? I can smell that dog a mile away. Got no teeth, damn near blind, can't eat. Candy feeds him milk. He can't chew nothing else." (2.193)

Carlson is awfully quick to suggest shooting Candy's dog. We wonder if Carlson will be so enthusiastic about being shot when he's the one with no teeth and no eyesight? (Actually, given the way life is on the ranch, he just might be.)

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WEAKNESS - CHAPTER 3

Candy looked a long time at Slim to try to find some reversal. And Slim gave him none. At last Candy said softly and hopelessly, "Awright—take 'im." He did not look down at the dog at all. He lay back on his bunk and crossed his arms behind his head and stared at the ceiling. (3.85)

Poor Candy. We wish we could respect Candy a little more, because he seems like a genuinely nice guy who's had a bad life. But he's so weak that he can't even manage to shoot his own dog—not very manly.

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WEAKNESS - CHAPTER 3

[Candy] said miserably, "You seen what they done to my dog tonight? They says he wasn’t no good to himself nor nobody else. When they can me here I wisht somebody’d shoot me. But they won’t do nothing like that. I won’t have no place to go, an’ I can’t get no more jobs." (3.222)

We're pretty sure hat Steinbeck isn't recommending the euthanization of old ranchhands, but this is a problem: if your entire career is based on bodily strength, what happens when you get old and can't work anymore?

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WEAKNESS - CHAPTER 3

Carlson laughed. "You God damn punk," he said. You tried to throw a scare into Slim, an' you couldn't make it stick. Slim throwed a scare inta you. You're yella as a frog belly. I don't care if you're the best welter in the country. You come for me, an' I'll kick your God damn head off."

Candy joined the attack with joy, "Glove fulla vaseline," he said disgustedly. Curley flared at him. His eyes slipped on past and lighted on Lennie; and Lennie was still smiling with delight at the memory of the ranch. (3.241-242)

Live by the fist, get beat up by the fist: as soon as Curley slips up, the men are on him: he might be a fighter, but they all recognize him for the coward that he is. It turns out that picking on people who can't retaliate doesn't exactly make you look strong.

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WEAKNESS - CHAPTER 4

"This is just a ****** talkin', an' a busted-back ******. So it don't mean nothing, see?" (4.39) 

The weak do have one privilege: no one pays attention to what they say. It's not much, but you have to take what you can get.

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WEAKNESS - CHAPTER 4

"They left all the weak ones here," she said finally. (4.92)

urley's wife is calling Crooks, Lennie, and Candy weak because they didn't go off to the whorehouse with the rest of the men… but here she is, too. She's weak just by default—and all the ostrich-feather heels and pretty dresses she can wear doesn't make her powerful.

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WEAKNESS - CHAPTER 6

She stood in front of Lennie and put her hands on her hips, and she frowned disapprovingly at him. 

And when she spoke, it was in Lennie’s voice. "I tol’ you an tol’ you," she said. "I tol you, ‘Min’ George because he’s such a nice fella an’ good to you.’ But you don’t never take no care. You do bad things." (6.10)

Lennie’s hallucinations seem to fully reflect Lennie’s real weaknesses and fears. Aunt Clara talks about how Lennie would never run away because he’s dependent on George. The big scary rabbit preys on Lennie's fear Crooks brought up -- that George might outgrow Lennie and leave him. It makes the audience wonder whether Lennie has, stored away in his consciousness, knowledge of what he’s done wrong and deeper knowledge of himself. Perhaps he just lacked the good sense to access it, and now that he has, something irreparable has happened. Lennie as we know him – slow, but mostly sane – might have lost some of his sanity after he killed Curley’s wife. Of course, there is no way to know for sure.

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WOMEN AND FEMININITY - CHAPTER 1

"God, you're a lot of trouble," said George. "I could get along so easy and so nice if I didn't have you on my tail. I could live so easy and maybe have a girl."

For a moment Lennie lay quiet, and then he said hopefully, "We gonna work on a ranch, George." (1.56-57)

Somehow we doubt that a girl would be much inclined to wander from ranch to ranch while George looks for steady work.

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WOMEN AND FEMININITY - CHAPTER 2

"Seems like Curley is cockier'n ever since he got married."

George grunted. "Maybe he's showin' off for his wife." (2.97-98)

You'd think that Curley would be able to stopshowing off now that he's married—but instead it seems worse than ever. Is there no such thing as "settling down" with a woman? Or is it just thiswoman?

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WOMEN AND FEMININITY - CHAPTER 2

"Well, that glove's fulla Vaseline."

"Vaseline? What the hell for?"

"Well, I will tell ya what—Curley says he's keepin' that hand soft for his wife." (2.99-101)

George and Candy snicker about Curley's vanity, but it raises an important question: whatdo women want? Well, if they're middle-class women in a technologically developed country like America, where the guys all work in offices w, they want a man with rough, worker's hands. But if they're working-class women in the Great Depression surrounded by rough ranchhands (according to Steinbeck), they want their man to have baby-soft hands.

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WOMEN AND FEMININITY - CHAPTER 2

"Well—she got the eye."

"Yeah? Married two weeks and got the eye? Maybe that's why Curley's pants is full of ants." (2.109-110)

You'd think that'd be a good thing in a new wife, but it's not. It just makes Curley a jealous wreck.

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WOMEN AND FEMININITY - CHAPTER 2

"Oh!" She put her hands behind her back and leaned against the door frame so that her body was thrown forward. "You're the new fellas that just come, ain't ya?" (2.145)

Curley's wife craves attention

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WOMEN AND FEMININITY - CHAPTER 2

Lennie's eyes moved down over her body, and though she didn't seem to be looking at Lennie she bridled a little. She looked at her fingers. "Sometimes Curley's in here," she explained. George said brusquely, "Well he ain't now."

"If he ain't, I guess I better look someplace else," she said playfully.

Lennie watched her, fascinated. George said, "If I see him, I'll pass the word you was looking for him."

She smiled archly and twitched her body. "Nobody can't blame a person for lookin'," she said. There were footsteps behind her, going by. She turned her head. "Hi, Slim," she said. (2.145-150)

"Bridled," "arch," and "twitch": these words have connotations of animal imagery which is not good news for Lennie

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WOMEN AND FEMININITY - CHAPTER 3

George said, "She’s gonna make a mess. They’s gonna be a bad mess about her. She’s a ********* all set on the trigger. That Curley got his work cut out for him. Ranch with a bunch of guys on it ain’t no place for a girl, specially like her." (3.135)

Is it true that ranches are no place for women? As George earlier compared stability to having "a girl" and presumably raising a family, it seems that if women can’t be part of ranch life, ranch life can’t really ever be stable and happy. Thinking on this leads us to wonder whether there’s no notion of a loving, down-to-earth, farm-wife type of gal that could make these men happy. Are all women trouble, as far as the ranch men see them?

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WOMEN AND FEMININITY - CHAPTER 3

"Yeah," said Whit. "We don't never go there. Clara gets three bucks a crack and thirty-five cents a shot, and she don't crack no jokes. But Susy's place is clean and she got nice chairs." (3.144)

The men dont focus on the actual purpose of the establishment but instead the homely atmosphere that it has

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WOMEN AND FEMININITY - CHAPTER 3

George sighed. "You give me a good whore house every time," he said. "A guy can go in an' get drunk and get ever'thing outa his system all at once, an' no messes. And he knows how much it's gonna set him back. These here jail baits is just set on the trigger of the hoosegow." (3.185)

George—like all the guys—sees women as basically exchangeable objects that satisfy certain needs in exchange for money. And he likes whorehouses, because you know there's not going to be any bait-and-switch, showing that his life is destined for celibacy

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WOMEN AND FEMININITY - CHAPTER 4

Candy's face had grown redder and redder, but before she was done speaking, he had control of himself. He was the master of the situation. "I might of knew," he said gently. "Maybe you just better go along an' roll your hoop. We ain't got nothing to say to you at all. We know what we got, and we don't care whether you know it or not." (4.105)

Candy might not have been strong enough to shoot his dog, but he's definitely strong enough to deal with Curley's wife. Showing that in the end, she's just a woman—and he's a man, typical of the era. 

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MAN AND THE NATURAL WORLD - CHAPTER 1

[He] walked heavily, dragging his feet a little, way a bear drags his paws. His arms did not swing at his sides, but hung loosely. (1.4)

This is instance #1 of Lennie being compared to an animal—a bear, no less: a massive, occasionally violent creature.

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MAN AND THE NATURAL WORLD - CHAPTER 1

His huge companion dropped his blankets and flung himself down and drank from the surface of the green pool; drank with long gulps, snorting into the water like a horse. The small man stepped nervously beside him. (1.5)

Instance #2 of Lennie being compared to an animal—this time, a horse who has to be kept from drinking too much water. There's a sense here, at least, that man has some responsibility to control the natural world.

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MAN AND THE NATURAL WORLD - CHAPTER 1

Lennie dabbled his big paw in the water and wiggled his fingers so the water arose in little splashes; rings widened across the pool o the other side and came back again. Lennie watched them go. "Look, George. Look what I done." (1.9)

Lennie doesn't get hands—he gets "paws," and he's fascinated with how those paws can affect the natural world. It's also as though, like an animal, he doesn't quite understand cause-and-effect.

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MAN AND THE NATURAL WORLD - CHAPTER 1

"What you want of a dead mouse, anyways?"

"I could pet it with my thumb while we walked along," said Lennie. (1.36-37)

Lennie doesn't seem to have the same hang-ups about death as other people. His mental disability makes him closer to an animal than to a human—which makes us think that Steinbeck is saying that the difference between men and beasts is more of a continuum than a sharp divide.

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MAN AND THE NATURAL WORLD - CHAPTER 2

The old man came slowly into the room. He had his broom in his hand. And at his heels there walked a dragfooted sheep dog, gray of muzzle, and with pale, blind old eyes. The dog struggled lamely to the side of the room and lay down, grunting softly to himself and licking his grizzled, moth-eaten coat. The swamper watched him until he was settled. "I wasn't listenin'. I was jus' standin' in he shad a minute scratchin' my dog." (2.65)

Candy's relationship with his dog is a lot like George's relationship with Lennie: they both care for things that other people can't appreciate.

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MAN AND THE NATURAL WORLD - CHAPTER 2

"She slang her pups last night," said Slim. "Nine of ‘em. I drowned four of ‘em right off. She couldn’t feed that many." (2.186)

Slim doesn't sentimentalize the natural world. He knows that the dog can't nurse nine puppies, so he kills four of them to save the others. There's no moral lesson here, unless it's that a man's "gotta," sometimes.

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MAN AND THE NATURAL WORLD - CHAPTER 3

[Candy] said miserably, "You seen what they done to my dog tonight? They says he wasn't no good to himself nor nobody else. When they can me here I wisht somebody'd shoot me. But they won't do nothing like that. I won't have no place to go, an' I can't get no more jobs." (3.222)

the world treats old men like Candy just as badly as they treat old dogs, and maybe even worse. They'll kill the old dogs, but they'll make the old men suffer.

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MAN AND THE NATURAL WORLD - CHAPTER 3

Lennie covered his face with huge paws and bleated with terror. He cried, "Make ‘um stop, George." (3.248)

Here's Lennie with his "paws" again, and this time he's "bleating," like a lamb about to be slaughtered—which, in one reading, is exactly what happens. He's an innocent who gets killed to please the men in charge.

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