Of Mice and Men Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Of Mice and Men

Lennie and George are wheat buckers in the 1930's. They travel around together even though they are very different; Lennie is big, but mentally retarded and George is small, but very smart.   Lennie also has a problem, because he is retarded, he does not know what he should not do, so he gets in a lot of trouble.   He relies on George and does everything George tells him. They get a job in a new place and meet Slim, the leader of the worker, and Curley, the boss's son who has a very horny wife.   George likes Slim, but thinks that both Curley and Curley's wife will easily make trouble for Lennie, and he is right.   Curley comes inside when he is in a bad mood and walks right up to Lennie and accuses him of cheating with his wife. When Lennie doesn't say anything because George told him not to, Curley punches him repeatedly.   George tells Lennie to protect himself, so Lennie grabs Curley's hand and squeezes it and won't let go because he is so scared.   Finally after George slaps him multiple times, he lets go, but Curley's had is broken.   Then, later, when Lennie is in the barn, Curley's wife comes in and flirts with Lennie, then she tells him that her hair is really soft because he said he liked soft things, so Lennie starts to pet her hair like one would a Puppy.   Then he starts to pet to hard and she yells. Then because Lennie is scared he grabs hold of her hair and shakes her to get her to stop screaming because he doesn't know better.   He ends up breaking her neck and killing her.
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The review of this Book prepared by cloud city

This book actually has two main characters, ranchhands who are looking for work in Depression-era California. George is a small, quick man with big dreams, not of ever getting rich but of one day owning his own piece of land. Lennie is a huge dope (he is in fact mentally disabled). He likes little furry creatures. When the story opens, they're on their way to a new job on a ranch. Steinbeck slowly lets us find out about their relationship. Although George sometimes picks on Lennie, he also watches out for him. They are in fact true friends.

When they get to the ranch, George and Lennie meet a variety of characters, including Slim, who will head their crew and who wonders why the two of them go around together. (This is one of the most interesting aspects of this book - the interest in, even the hankering after, other loners have in their friendship). They make friends with the old man Candy and Crooks, the only black man who lives apart from the rest of the ranchhands. Crooks is in fact the only black man in the area. They also encounter Curley, a lout, who's the boss's son, and his wife, Candy, a looker, who makes trouble.
The review of this Book prepared by Ann Gaines

The novel Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck is a tale of friendship, dreams, and violence. Set in Steinbeck's childhood home near the Salinas River of California, the main characters are George Milton and Lennie Small. The two are as different as can be: George is small and quick of mind while Lennie is an enormous man with the mind of a child. Yet together, they are a family.

As the novel opens, George and Lennie are once again on their way to work as hired ranch hands. The status quo for tramps is people who travel for work and have no future beyond working for someone else every month. But George and Lennie are working toward something. They have a dream of owning a few acres, having a home to call their own, and being the masters of their own fate. For Lennie, his childish mind delights at the prospect of tending rabbits and stroking their fur. For now, the six hundred dollars needed to attain their dream seems years away. But, at the ranch they meet Candy, an old man, who adds 350 bucks when he joins them in planning to purchase the land and suddenly the dream is within reach.

Although George's life would be less complicated if he didn't have to take care of Lennie, he can never leave him. George tries to teach Lennie how to behave in a way that is acceptable to society. As they approach the job site, George warns Lennie not to say a word and let George do all the talking At the ranch, they meet the boss's son, Curley who is a cruel little man Curley despises men of large girth and focuses on Lennie as his victim. One time in a rage, he comes to the bunkhouse and picks a fight with Lennie. As Curley rains blows on Lennie, George commands Lennie to defend himself. Lennie does not know his own strength and crushes Curleyˇ¦s hand. Another source of worry to George is Curleyˇ¦s wife. She is lonely for companionship yet all the men view her as a tart and her conduct as flirtatious. But in the end, George cannot protect Lennie from the explosive events that follow and must act out of love.

One day, Lennie accidentally brings about the death of Curley's wife. Lennie is stroking her hair when she begins screaming. Lennie cannot conceive to let go and unintentionally breaks her neck as he covers her mouth to silence her. An angry mob lead by Curley commences to hunt for Lennie, intent on killing him. George finds Lennie near the Salinas River which is their meeting place should there be any trouble. Lennie anticipates George to be upset but he responds His voice choked with emotion, George bades Lennie to look toward the river and imagine their dream coming to reality. He wants Lennie to envision a place where there is no cruelty and Lennie can be accepted as himself. George discerns that if Lennie were to be caught, Curley would make certain to cause Lennie pain and anguish. This time George cannot protect Lennie. Out of mercy, George kills Lennie, drawing his strength from the love they share for one another.

The review of this Book prepared by Joanna

George and Lenny have a dream. They want to save enough of the money that they earn as migrant field hands to buy their own farm and become their own bosses. George will be able to settle down without having to spend all his time and energy looking out for his huge cousin, Lenny, who is retarded, and Lenny will be able to do as he pleases without causing them trouble. They are hired to help pick the crop on a farm. The pint-size foreman, Curley, a sadistic, former boxer, who is unsure of his manhood and of his ability to satisfy his wife, doesn't like Lenny from the start, and George warns Lenny to stay clear of both Curley and his wife. One of the other workers gives Lenny a newborn puppy, which stays in the barn with its mother. After Curley picks a fight with Lenny and Lenny breaks Curley's hand, Curley goes to the hospital and Lenny seeks to comfort himself by stroking his puppy, which he has unknowingly killed. Curley's wife enters the barn and flirts with Lenny. She lets him pet her hair, as he had petted the puppy, but he won't release her hair when she tries to pull away. Frightened, she screams, and Lenny, trying to silence her, accidentally breaks her neck. Curley returns, and he and his men hunt for Lenny. George suspects that Lenny will go to a nearby creek. George finds him there, and kills him quickly and mercifully so that Lenny won't fall into the hands of the sadistic Curley. This is a short and enjoyable, if somewhat sentimental, novel, that illustrates the difficulty of the uneducated poor and their attempt to better their lives. It also condemns the harsh brutality of farm owners who cared nothing for the men by whose sweat and blood they obtained and retained the profits from their farms.
The review of this Book prepared by Gary Pullman

Two men, George and Lenny, form a strong friendship, one man assuming the role of father-figure for the other, who has a child-like mentality but a brute strength that needs to be kept in check. Their quest in life is simple - to become settled and self-sufficient and to end their roaming lifestyle. However, George, the father-figure, is forced to face the reality of Lenny's mental instability/physical strength; he takes on the responsiblity of preventing further hurt/death by ending his friend's life, and thus ending his dream for their future.
The review of this Book prepared by J.L. McEachen

Chapter Analysis of Of Mice and Men

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Plot & Themes

Tone of book?    -   depressed    -   thoughtful Time/era of story    -   1930's-1950's Life of a profession:    -   bum Poverty, surviving    -   Yes Kind of living:    -   farm poverty Internal struggle/realization?    -   Yes Struggle over    -   vague finding self/purpose in life (i.e. no plot to book) Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Job/Profession/Status story    -   Yes Brain/Body disability?    -   mental illness

Main Character

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   farmer Age:    -   20's-30's Ethnicity/Nationality    -   White (American)


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   4 () United States    -   Yes The US:    -   California Farm/Ranch?    -   Yes Farm/Ranch:    -   farm    -   ranch

Writing Style

Sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   vague references only Lot of foul language?    -   Yes Amount of dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

Books with storylines, themes & endings like Of Mice and Men

John Steinbeck Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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