Themes in Of Mice And Men

These cards cover all themes in the novel LEARN

HideShow resource information


Every character on the ranch suffers from loneliness, a main theme in the novel. This time in America- 1930's was a time of loneliness and unhappiness; the great depression. Each character suffers in different ways:

  • Crooks is completely isolated from other characters on the ranch. He gets no respect or acknowlegment; he isnt even called by his name most of the time. He has his own room, not even any friends on the ranch let alone companion.
  • Curley's Wife is simular to Crooks; she is lonely becuase she spends all day alone. Curley doesnt pay her attention. This is why she bugs the other workers on the ranch for attention. She also doesnt get called by her own name.
  • Curley is lonely; he doesnt get along with any of the other workers as he always accuses them of being with his wife.  
  • Candy's companion was his dog. This was the only thing he had close to a companion. However once it was shot he was a very lonely character.- Old.
  • George and Lennies relationship is explained through this theme of lonliness. "I ain't got no people"(George); they only have eachother for company and thats why they stick together. Lonley guys get "mean"

They think the American Dream would solve this problem with loneliness as well as all the other problems at the time.

1 of 6


Throughout the play there are many moments of predudice; Racial predudice and age predudice:

  • Crooks is a ***** stable buck and is segregated becuase he is black.
  • He is referred to as "******" and "stablebuck" and gets no respect.
  • He lives in his own room and is not welcomed by the men on the ranch
  • He gets "hell" from the boss when he is man; an easy target.
  • He has power; even less then Curleys wife.
  • This predudice makes Crooks bitter; he is an angry guy and makes out he doesnt want company anyway; he enjoys tourmenting Lennie to start.
  • However he wants companionship and quickly buys into the dream.
  • Candy is the same. He get no respect from the men of the ranch. He is old.
  • He knows it wont be long untill they fire him from his job.
  • He doesnt appear important to the men on the ranch and gets little sympathy when Carlson shoots his dog.
  • His dog represents himself; soon too old, just creating smell, needing to go.
  • Curleys wife looks down on Candy too as dismissed him as a "lousy ol sheep". This is partly what turns him bitter about her death.

Nither men are recognised with respect or for the jobs they do.

2 of 6

The American Dream

The workers on the ranch arent going anywhere. Everyone still seeked and dreamt of the American Dream. Each week mosst men would blow their weeks wages in a prostitute house. George believes that men like this "ain't got nothin to look ahead to"

The American Dream is the idea that you can own your own land to live off; growing whats needed and having something to your name. This dreams is what keeps the characters going. They recite the dream as though it is a fairytale; fiction.

At this time in America the crop was poor. This was what made the dream such a fantasy. To have enough land and crop to live off was a huge deal. It was also a nateralistic idea; the wall streat crash and Great Depression was at this time; this idea took away form all the man made things and money that was lost in banks and mean people could just live naterally providing a simplistic lifestyle for themselves.

Steinbech represents the huge willingness for the dream through Lennie and George wanting to live off the "fatta the land". However none of the characters dreams esculate. They all turn out badly showing this could never have happened

Curleys wife had a different dream; her dream was to become an actress; we can see this through her character as she wears dramatic clothes and always tries to catch attention.

3 of 6

Relationships and Companion

Loneliness was common at this time and not many people had a relationship or companion. George and Lennies seems to be odd to the others. They are very optomistic and stick together.

There is a huge contrast between George and Lennies relationship and Curley and his wife's. Curley is mean to be happily married and not lonely however they are both more lonely then Lennie and George. However the two that appear most happy are Carlson, Whit and the Boss; all alone.

Candy and his Dog are simular to Lennie and George, and they are killed for very simular reasons and in simular ways. Goerge and Lennie relationship isnt understood by most, even slim states its perculiar. However George stays loyal to Lennie throughout and looks after him like a son.

4 of 6

Death and Destiny

Death appears to end everyones dreams. It is inevetable and Steinbeck hints at it throughout the novel; he gives us warnings... Lennie kills mice... he then killed a puppy... he then proceeded to hurt curley and finallly killed his wife. Candys dog being killed forshadows what is going to happen to Lennie later on in the story.

Lennie also acts the same way when he kills Curleys wife; the same as he did with the puppies and only Slim pays attention to her as a person and treats her like one once she is dead. Even from the beginning of the novel when a heron caught the water snake Steinbeck represents that death is a part of nature and is inevitable.

This is also linked to the characters destiny; Lennie has no control over his destiny; he cannot even control himself. Curleys wife also doesnt; she is trapped in loneliness on the farm with Curley. Even Slim; the "Godlike" character seems unable to control the destiny.

Nature starts and ends the novel. They also start and finnish it in the same place. Steinbeck uses forshadowing a lot to suggest what is going to happen in the novel.

George appears to have control over his destiny, but he doesnt.

5 of 6

Sexism/ Women

Curleys wife is the most important woman in the novel and the only woman we meet. She is a lonely and fustrated person who appears to use her sexuality and looks for attention. She uses her posture including by sticking her cheast out and leaning against the wall to catch the attention of the men. She also wears bright red lipstick and short dresses. She clearlly spends a lot of time on her appearence.

In the play the men and women dont seem to understand eachother. The men assume she is a "tart" Curley also doesnt understand the needs of his wife; his idea of being there for her is covering his hand in vaseline.

They both seem to undermine eachothers dreams.

The men had little/ no respect for women at the time.

6 of 6







these are really good notes - but i find that the green is really difficult to read - thanks anyway :)

Alex Hay


spelt predjudice wrong

Hannah Kearns


^ No, you did. *Prejudice.




Similar English Literature resources:

See all English Literature resources »See all Of Mice and Men resources »