Chapter Theme/s: Key Characters: Summary:
One Friendship, dreams. George and Lennie We are introduced to the two main characters; George and Lennie. They are itinerant workers who rest in a small clearing by the river, on their way to a nearby ranch where they expect to sign on for temporary work. They have hurriedly left the last ranch where they worked, following an incident involving Lennie. Lennie pleads with George to tell him over and over again about their dream ranch, where Lennie’s main task will be to tend the rabbits.
Two Friendship, danger, dreams. George, Lennie, Candy, Curley, Curley’s Wife, Carlson, Slim. The next day George and Lennie arrive at the ranch and go to the bunk house where they meet most of the other main characters in the story: Candy, an old swamper with only one hand; Curley, the boss’ son, who is suspicious that George will not let Lennie speak up for himself; Curley’s beautiful young wife who flirts with the other men; Slim, the top ranch hand who is respected by all the other hands; and Carlson, another of the established hands. Slim is friendly towards George and Lennie. Slim’s ***** dog has recently given birth to pups and Lennie begs George to ask him if he will give one to Lennie as a pet.
Three Danger, Death, Loneliness, Dreams. Slim, Lennie, George, Carlson, Candy, Curley. Slim realises that Lennie has the mentality of a child. George tells Slim about the supposed **** in Weed involving Lennie. Carlson bullies Candy into allowing him to shoot his ageing, smelly and rheumatic dog. George, at Lennie’s insistence, describes to him again their dream farm, and Candy, who is listening in, also becomes enchanted by the idea. Curley starts a fight with Lennie and at George’s command Lennie eventually unleashes his strength and crushes Curley’s hand with ease. Slim persuades Curley that to avoid further humiliation, it would be in his best interests to pretend that his hand got caught in a machine.
Four Loneliness, Prejudice, Dreams. Candy, Crooks, Lennie, Curley’s Wife. All the men go into town on Saturday night except Lennie, Candy and Crooks. Crooks reluctantly allows Lennie into his room where they talk and Crooks taunts Lennie that George may not return, leaving Lennie on his own. Lennie begins to panic at this thought and Crooks is forced to apologise in an attempt to calm Lennie down. Candy joins them and he and Lennie let slip to Crooks their intention to buy a farm.
Five Danger, Death, Friendship. Lennie, Curley’s Wife, Candy, George. Most of the men are outside the barn playing at throwing horseshoes. Only Lennie is in the barn where he has just accidentally killed his pup by stroking it too hard. Curley’s wife comes in and starts to flirt with Lennie who confesses to her his liking for stroking nice things. She invites him to stroke her long soft hair, but as his stroking becomes harder, she panics; the harder he strokes the more she panics and in the end, Lennie accidentally breaks her neck. He half-buries her body in the…