The story begins when George and Lennie prepare to arrive at a ranch to work - and ends in tragedy just four days later. The story is told in the third person, so we are provided with a clear, unbiased view of all the characters.
George and Lennie camp in the brush by a pool, the night before starting new jobs as ranch hands.
George finds Lennie stroking a dead mouse in his pocket. He complains that caring for Lennie prevents him from living a freer life. We find out that Lennie's innocent petting of a girl's dress led to them losing their last jobs in Weed.
However, when they talk about their dream of getting a piece of land together, we know they really depend on each other.
When they arrive at the ranch in the morning, George and Lennie are shown around by old Candy.
They meet their boss and, later, his son, Curley - George is suspicious of Curley's manner and warns Lennie to stay away from him.
They see Curley's pretty and apparently flirtatious wife and meet some of their fellow workers, Slim and Carlson.
Later that evening, George tells Slim about why he and Lennie travel together and more about what happened…