Of Mice and Men

  • Of Mice and Men

    John Steinbeck

    Published 1937

    Bantam Books

    New York

     

    A free E-text of the novel Of Mice and Men can be found at:

     http://www.readanybook.com/ebook/of-mice-and-men-242 

     

    Major Characters

    George Milton
    The protagonist and main character of the book. He is a caring, compassionate, and understanding human being who dreams of owning his own piece of land " 'an live offa the fat of the land". Physically, he is a small and intelligent man with strong features. He is Lennie's cousin. He made a promise to Lennie's mother when she died to take of Lennie. 

    Lennie Small
    The obedient friend of George. He has a child’s mind and a giant’s body. Ironically, Lennie Small is a big, strong man. He is mentally retarded, and relies upon George. It is these contrasting qualities and his impulsive nature that cause him problems. Lennie is basically harmless, but he does not understand his own strength. He loves to pet soft things, like mice and puppies, but often kills them accidently if they "nip" at him.

     

    Old Candy
    One of the lonely ranch workers. He is a cripple (missing a hand), working as a ‘Swamper’. Candy was injured working on the ranch years ago. The Boss has taken care of Candy by giving him a job as a Swamper. He is discriminated against because he is handicapped and now he is getting old. Candy is worried he will lose his job and home when he gets to old to work.

    Crooks
    A black ranch hand. He is sensible and neat, with a mind of his own. He is a lonely character, who is discriminated against, due to his race. However, Crooks has a skill. He is knowledgeable about farm animals. Crooks lives alone because he is Black. He does not live witht he other ranch workers.

    Slim
    A ranch worker with leadership qualities. He commands respect from all on the ranch. He also has skills as the "mule skinner".

    Curley
    The boss’ son who was a boxer. He is short, stocky, and thinks he is better than all the others. He picks fights with everybody on the ranch. Curley is short. He has a Napoleonic Complex because he is short, he is always trying to prove himself by fighting with others.

    Curley’s wife
    The only woman on the ranch. She is very flirtatious. Notice she does NOT have a name other than Curley's wife. Woman are discriminated against at this time in American history. She has no identity other than Curley's Wife.

    Carlson
    A ranch worker. A brutal man. He objects to Candy keeping his old dog.

    Whit
    A ranch worker. He is sent to town to fetch the Sheriff after Curley’s wife is murdered.

    The Boss
    A ‘nice fella’ (in Candy’s words). He is more concerned about his work on the ranch than anyone else. He is fair. The Boss is respected because he is rich.

     

    CHAPTER 1 (pages 1-18) "Meeting George and Lennie"

    The purpose of chapter 1 is to introduce the setting of the novel and the main characters George and Lennie.


    George and Lennie are on their way to a ranch to get jobs. They stop near the Salinas River. They will eat dinner and camp out by the river and go to the ranch the next day.

     

    The readers learn that George "takes care of Lennie" and George is frustrated. Because George takes care of Lennie, he has sacrificed his own life, dreams and any chance of success.

     

    Lennie is revealed to be a huge man, but he is developmentally disabled. Lennie has a habit of carrying a mouse in his pocket to pet it. When the mouse nips at Lennie's fingers, he crushes its skull. George has to make Lennie throw the mouse away.

     

    It is revealed that George and Lennie had to sneak out of the town of Weed because Lennie got in trouble when he tried to "touch" a woman's dress. The dress was soft and Lennie wanted to rub fabric in his hands.

     

    George insists that Lennie remember this place by the river in case he gets in trouble again. As Lennie and George fall asleep they talk about their version of the American Dream, to own their own ranch some day and live off the fat of the land.

     

    In chapter 1 the setting of the story is revealed to the reader.

    • The story takes place on a ranch in the Salinas River Valley in California.
    • The story takes place during the Great Depression.
    • Many men are out of work and the farming industry in the Midwestern United States is suffering.
    • Men are working as migrant farm workers, traveling from farm to farm looking for any kind of temporary work they can get.

     

    George Milton

    "was small and quick, dark of face, with restless eyes and sharp, strong features. Every part of him was defined: small, strong hands, slender arms, a thin and bony nose" (2).

     

    Lennie Small (he is often described and compared to an animal)

    "Behind him walked his opposite, a huge man, shapeless of face, with large pale eyes, with wide sloping shoulders; and he walked heavily, dragging his feet a little, the way a bear drags his paws. His arms did not swing at his sides, but hung loosely...he drank from the surface of the green pool with long gulps, snorting into the water like a horse" (2).

     

    "Lennie dabbled his big paw in the water and wiggled his fingers so water arose in little splashes (3).

     

    "slowly like a terrier who doesn't want to bring a ball to its master, Lennie approached, drew back, approached again" (9)

     

    Lennie is developmetally disabled.

    • Imitates George

    "Lennie, who had been watching, imitated George exactly" (4).

    "George lay back on the sand and crossed his hands under his head, and Lennie imitated him, raising his head to see whether he were doing it right" (7).

    • Has a poor memory

    "George?...Where we goin', George?'

    'So you forgot that awready, did you? I gotta tell you again, do I? Jesus Christ, you're a crazy bastard!'

    'I forgot . I tried not to forget. Honest to God I did, George...I remember about the rabbits, George" (4-5)

    • is impulsive
    • childlike
    • does not know his own strength
    • likes to pet soft things (mice, rabbits, puppies, soft fabric)
    • does not understand cause and effect (he keeps catching and petting mice, when they bite he kills them, over and over again)
    • he does not understand the consequences of his own actions

     

    George and Lennie are Different from the other Workers

    "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 a town and blow their stake, and the first thing you know they're pounding their tail on some other ranch. They ain't got nothing to look ahead to . . . 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" (15).

     

    Lennie and George's American Dream

    "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 offa 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...Well, said George, we'll have a big vegetable patch and a rabbit hutch and chickens. And when it rains in the winter, we'll just say the hell with goin' to work, and we'll build up a fire in the stove and set around it an' listen to the rain comin' down on the roof...When we get the coupla acres I can let you tend the rabbits all right...Let's have different color rabbits, George. Sure we will. Red and blue and green rabbits, Lennie. Millions of 'em. Furry ones, George, like I seen in the fair in Sacremento. Sure furry ones. " (15-18).

     

    CHAPTER 2 (pages 19-41) "George and Lennie arrive on the ranch"

    • The purpose of chapter 2 is to introduce the central characters and conflicts of the story.
    • Another purpose in this chapter is to inform the reader that farm animals are not pets.
    • Farm animals are a part of the economy.
    • Animals are raised for food or work.

     

    George and Lennie arrive at the ranch after the men have left to work the morning shift.

    They move into the bunk house and meet the boss, his son and the workers on the ranch

     

    It is revealed to the reader in Chapter 2 that ranch hands have a very hard and difficult life.

    • the bunk house has beds with thin, cheap mattresses
    • the men have very few possessions
    • the men have an old apple crate to store their little belongings they own
    • it is common for the bunkhouse to have lice and roaches

     

    The Boss

    • "a pretty nice fella"
    • He gives the men a gallon of whiskey on Christmas
    • He is annoyed that George and Lennie are late for work on the ranch
    • the boss is suspicious of George and Lennie's friendship
    • the boss thinks that George might be taking advantage of Lennie because he is "simple"
    • George tells the boss that Lennie got kicked in the head by a horse and he takes care of Lennie because they are cousins (not true)

     

    Candy

    • "the old swamper"--the farm custodian, he cleans up around the farm
    • old and handicapped--he lost his hand in a farming accident years ago
    • best friend is his ancient dog, the dog cannot see and can barely walk and smells

     

    Curley

    • the boss' son
    • a boxer "Curley's pretty handy"
    • Curley is short
    • Curley wears boots with heels to set himself apart from the other ranch hand and to make himself taller
    • likes to prove himself by picking fights with bigger men "he hates big guys"
    • It is immediately apparent that Curley does not like Lennie (because Lennie is a big man) and there will be trouble
    • George and Lennie agree to stay away from Curley
    • Curley just got married to " a tart"
    • Curley wears a glove on his hand filled with Vaseline. He keeps that hand soft to touch his wife
    • Curley is very jealous and insecure

     

    Curley's wife

    • this character does not have a name
    • women are not respected by society
    • described as "a tart", "a bitch" and "poison"
    • She is pretty
    • flirts with the ranch hands
    • Lennie develops an immediate crush on her
    • George warns Lennie to stay away from Curley's wife

    "Don't you even take a look at the bitch...I seen poison before, but I never seen no piece of jail bait worse than her. You leave her be" (35-36).

    "Well, you keep away from her, 'cause she's a rat-trap in I ever seen one" (36).

     

    Slim

    • the most respected worker on the ranch
    • jerkline skinner

     

    "he moved into the room, and he moved with a majesty only achieved by royalty and master craftsmen. 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 butt 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" (37).

     

    Carlson

    • a ranch hand
    • wants to shoot Candy's dog because he is old, disabled and smells
    • asks Slim if he would be willing to give Candy one of the new pups

     

    Farm animals are not Pets

     

    " I been thinkin'. That dog of Candy's is so God damn old he can't hardly walk. Stinks like hell, too. Ever' time he comes into the bunk house I can smell him for two, three days. Why'n'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" (39).

     

    "Meant to ask you, Slim, how's your bitch? I seen she wasn't under your wagon this morning. "

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

    "Got five left, huh?"

    "Yeah, five. I kept the biggest" (39).

     

    At the end of chapter 2, Lennie is as excited as a little child about Slim's puppies. Lennie wants George to ask Slim if he can have a brown and white puppy.

     

    CHAPTER 3 (pages 42-72) "Candy's Dog and Curley's Hand"

    Chapter 3 is about relationships. The author's purpose is to show how unusual George and Lennie's relationship is for this time period.

    • George and Lennie travel together and George takes care of Lennie.
    • George and Lennie have a plan for the future to get their own farm.
    • Candy's only true relationship is with his dog.
    • Curley's relationship with his wife is troubled.
    • Whit had a friendship with a ranch hand named Bill Tenner and no one else can even remember the man.
    • Men do not have loving relationships with women. They have sexual relationships with prostitutes.

     

     It is the end of the work day and the men return to the bunkhouse.

     George and Slim talk about Lennie

    • strong
    • dumb
    • not crazy
    • follows orders

     

    "Say, you sure was right about him. Maybe he ain't bright, but I never seen such a worker. He damn near killed his partner buckin' barley. There ain't nobody can keep up with him. God awmighty I never seen such a strong guy. " (43).

     

    "George spoke proudly. "Jus' tell Lennie what to do an' he'll do it if it don't take no figuring. He can't think of nothing to do himself, but he sure can take orders... "He ain't no cuckoo, " said George. "He's dumb as hell, but he ain't crazy" (43).

     

    During the Great Depression it was very unusual for men to be friends, travel together and look out for each other.

    • George and Lennie go around together.
    • George explains his unusual relationship with Lennie
    • George and Lennie grew up in the same town. When Lennie's aunt dies, George begins to take care of him.

     

    "Funny how you an' him string along together...Hardly none of the guys ever travel together. I hardly never seen two guys travel together...Never seem to give a damn about nobody. It jus' seems kinda funny a cuckoo like him and a smart little guy like you travelin' 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" (44).

     

    George explains to Slim that he used to make fun of Lennie's disability but stopped because he almost killed Lennie.

    Lennie trusts George completely.

    "Funny, " said George. "I used to have a hell of a lot of fun with 'im. Used to play jokes on 'im 'cause he was too dumb to take care of 'imself. But he was too dumb even to know he had a joke played on him. I had fun. Made me seem God damn smart alongside of him...turns to Lennie and says, 'Jump in. ' An' he jumps. Couldn't swim a stroke. He damn near drowned before we could get him. An' he was so damn nice to me for pullin' him out. Clean forgot I told him to jump in. Well, I ain't done nothing like that no more. "

     

    Slim makes an observation that smart guys are not always nice guys.

    "Guy don't need no sense to be a nice fella. Seems to me sometimes it jus' works the other way around. Take a real smart guy and he ain't hardly ever a nice fella. (45).

     

    George confides in Slim.

    • George tells Slim how Lennie got in trouble in Weed because he wanted to touch a woman's soft dress.
    • Slim gives Lennie one of his puppies.
    • Lennie tries to sneak the one-day old pup into the bunkhouse in his shirt.

     

    Carlson enters the bunkhouse and begins to complain about Candy's dog.

    • Carlson wants to kill the dog because he is crippled.
    • Ironically, Candy is as old and crippled as his dog.
    • Slim agrees with Carlson.
    • Candy reluctantly agrees to let Carlson shoot his dog.

    "I can't stand him in here, " said Carlson. "That stink hangs around even after he's gone. " He walked over with his heavy- legged stride and looked down at the dog. "Got no teeth, " he said. "He's all stiff with rheumatism. He ain't no good to you, Candy. An' he ain't no good to himself. Why'n't you shoot him, Candy?...

    "Look, Candy. This of dog jus' suffers hisself all the time. If you was to take him out and shoot him right in the back of the head-" he leaned over and pointed, "- right there, why he'd never know what hit him...

    Tell you what. I'll shoot him for you. Then it won't be you that does it...

    That dog ain't no good to himself. I wisht somebody'd shoot me if I get old an' a cripple. " (49-50).

     

    • Candy lies down in his bunk and faces the wall.
    • It is silent in the bunkhouse as the men wait for Carlson to kill Candy's dog and best friend.

    "Candy looked a long time at Slim to try to find some reversal. And Slim gave him none...Candy lay rigidly on his bed staring at the ceiling...Slim said, 'Candy, you can have any one of thme pups you want'...The silence was in the room again. 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 (54).

     

    During the Great Depression, friendships did not last. Men moved on to new jobs frequently.

    • One of the ranch hands Whit sees a letter from his friend Bill Tenner in a magazine.
    • Whit is very excited to see the letter. He feels "connected" to Bill again.
    • The other ranch hands barely remember Bill Tenner.
    • This incident shows that migrant farm workers are very lonely.
    • This incident shows how unusual George and Lennie's friendship is.

    "Don't you remember Bill Tenner? Worked here about threee months ago...

    Bill and me worked in that patch of field peas. Run cultivators. Bill was a hell of a nice fella" (51).

     

    The men have a discussion about women.

    • The men are afraid of Curley.
    • They do not understand that Curley's wife is lonely living far from town on a ranch with only men.
    • Curley's wife is really just looking for some fiendship.

    "Well, ain't she a looloo?

    She ain't conealin' nothing. I never seen nobody like her. She got the eye goin' all the time on everybody. I bet she even gives the stable buck the eye. I don't know what the hell she wants...

    George said, 'She's gonna make a mess. They're gonna be a bad mess about her. She's a jail bait all set on the trigger" (56-57)

     

    "What's eatin' on Curley?" Carlson squinted down the barrel of his gun. "Lookin' for his old lady. I seen him going round and round outside. " Whit said sarcastically, "He spends half his time lookin' for her, and the rest of the time she's lookin' for him. " Curley burst into the room excitedly. "Any you guys seen my wife?"

    "Curley's just spoilin' or he wouldn't start for Slim. An' Curley's handy, God damn handy. Got in the finals for the Golden Gloves. He got newspaper clippings about it. "

     

    • The men talk about the whores in town.
    • Women are not respected by men.
    • Women are used for sex.

    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. "

     

    George and Lennie agree to let Candy be a part of their dream

    George and Lennie are talking about their dream and Candy overhears them.

    Candy who has saved up nearly $350 dollars convinces George and Lennie to let him give them his money and Candy can go live with them.

    With Candy's money George realizes they will only need to work another month on the ranch and they will have enough money to buy the farm ($600).

    "George, how long's it gonna be till we get that little place an' live on the fatta the lan-an' rabbits?" "I don' know, " said George. "We gotta get a big stake together. I know a little place we can get cheap, but they ain't givin' it away. " Old Candy turned slowly over. His eyes were wide open. He watched George carefully...Candy said, "I ain't much good with on'y one hand. I lost my hand right here on this ranch. That's why they give me a job swampin'. An' they give me two hundred an' fifty dollars 'cause I los' my hand An' I got fifty more saved up right in the bank, right now. Tha's three hunderd, and I got fifty more comin' the end a the month. Tell you what-" He leaned forward eagerly. "S'pose I went in with you guys. Tha's three hunderd an' fifty bucks I'd put in...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...George stood up. "We'll do her, " he said. "We'll fix up that little old place an' we'll go live there. " He sat down again. They all sat still, all bemused by the beauty of the thing, each mind was popped into the future when this lovely thing should come about" (62-67). 

     

    Curley fights with Lennie

    • Slim leaves the bunkhouse with Crooks, the "Negro stable buck", to fix a mule's foot.
    • Curley thinks that his wife and Slim are fooling around.
    • Curley and Slim get into a verbal argument about Curley's wife.
    • The men tease Curley.
    • Curley is angry and ready for a fight.
    • Curley will not fight with Slim because Slim is needed on the ranch and respected by all the ranch hands.
    • Curley notices Lennie lying on his bunk smiling (about his puppy and the rabbits)
    • Curley picks a fight with Lennie.
    • Lennie does not fight back until George tells him to.
    • Upon George's order Lennie fights back.
    • Lennie crushes all the bones in Curley's hand with his fist.
    • George and Lennie are afraid they will be fired because Lennie has crushed Curley's hand and Curley is the boss' son.
    • Slim threatens Curley.
    • Curley agrees to say his hand was crushed in a farm machine.
    • Lennie who does not understand his own strength is not worried that he hurt Curley.
    • Lennie is only worried that George will be mad at him and George will not let him tend the rabbits.

    "His eyes slipped on past and lighted on Lennie; and Lennie was still smiling with delight at the memory of the ranch. Curley stepped over to Lennie like a terrier. "What the hell you laughin' at?" Lennie looked blankly at him. "Huh?" Then Curley's rage exploded. "Come on, ya big bastard. Get up on your feet. No big son-of-a-bitch is gonna laugh at me...

    He slashed at Lennie with his left, and then smashed down his nose with a right. Lennie gave a cry of terror...Lennie covered his face with his huge paws and bleated with terror. He cried, "Make 'um stop, George.'...

    George was on his feet yelling, "Get him, Lennie. Don't let him do it...

    Curley's fist was swinging when Lennie reached for it. The next minute Curley was flopping like a fish on a line, and his closed fist was lost in Lennie's big hand...Curley sat down on the floor, looking in wonder at his crushed hand...

    George said, "Slim, will we get canned now? We need the stake. Will Curley's old man can us now?" Slim smiled wryly...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. "

    "I won't tell, " said Curley...

    "I can still tend the rabbits, George?"

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

    "I di'n't mean no harm, George. "

    (68-72).

     

    CHAPTER 4 (pages 73-91) "The Lonely Ones"
    • Chapter 4 is about discrimination and loneliness.
    • On the ranch and all of the ranch hands have gone to town to the whore houses to drink, play cards and have sex.
    • Lennie, Candy, Crooks and Curley's Wife are not invited to go because they are discriminated against due to their age, disability, race or gender.
     
    • Lennie is lonely and goes to the barn to pet his puppy.
    • Lennie sees Crooks' light on inhis room and goes to visit Crooks.
      "the Negro stable buck, had his bunk in the harness room...his bunk was a long box filled with straw...And scattered about the floor were a number of personal possessions; for, being alone, Crooks could leave his things about, and being a stable buck and a cripple, he was more permanent than the other men, and he had accumulated more possessions than he could carry on his back...And he had books, too; a tattered dictionary and a mauled copy of the California civil code for 1905...This room was swept and fairly neat, for Crooks was a proud, aloof man. He kept his distance and demanded that other people keep theirs. His body was bent over to the left by his crooked spine...(73-74).
    • Crooks does not want Lennie is his room, but cannot resist Lennie friendliness and allows him in the room.
      "You got no right to come in my room. This here's my room. Nobody got any right in here but me...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. They play cards in there, but I can't play because I'm black. They say I stink. Well, I tell you, you all of you stink to me...Lennie's disarming smile defeated him..If I say something, why it's just a nigger sayin' it"  (75-76).
    • Crooks is very lonely, no one on the ranch talks to him because he is Black.
    • Crooks resents Lennie because even though Lennie is mentally disabled, he is white and has a friend."Crooks said gently, "Maybe you can see now. You got George. You know he's goin' to come back. S'pose you didn't have nobody. S'pose you couldn't go into the bunk house and play rummy 'cause you was black. How'd you like that? S'pose you had to sit out here an' read books. Sure you could play horseshoes till it got dark, but then you got to read books. Books ain't no good. A guy needs somebody -to be near him. " He whined, "A guy goes nuts if he ain't got nobody. Don't make no difference who the guy is, long's he's with you. I tell ya, " he cried, "I tell ya a guy gets too lonely an' he gets sick" (80). 
    • Crooks begins to tease Lennie that George will leave him.
      "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. " He paused. His voice grew soft and persuasive. "S'pose George don't come back no more. S'pose he took a powder and just ain't coming back. What'll you do then?" (78). 
    • Because Lennie gets scared that George is hurt and will not come back to the ranch, Crooks finally stops teasing him.
    • Candy comes to Crooks' room looking for Lennie.
    • Even though Candy and Crooks have both lived on the ranch for years, Candy has never been in Crooks' room, because he is Black.
      Candy leaned against the wall beside the broken collar while he scratched the 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" (82). 
    • Candy and Lennie begin talking about their dream of owning their own place.
    • At first Crooks tells them that their dream of owning land will never come true."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. Everybody 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" (81).
    • Crooks is eventually convinced that George, Lennie and Candy have enough money to get their own place, and offers to come work for them for room and board, no wages."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't work like a son-of-a-bitch if I want to" (84).
    • Curley's wife has been left alone at the ranch house, she goes to barn looking for someone to talk to.
      "She regarded them amusedly. "Funny thing, " she said. "If I catch any one man, and he's alone, I get along fine with him. But just let two of the guys get together an' you won't talk. Jus' nothing but mad" She dropped her fingers and put her hands on her hips. "You're all scared of each other, that's what. Ever' one of you's scared the rest is goin' to get something on you. " After a pause Crooks said, "Maybe you better go along to your own house now. We don't want no trouble. " "Well, I ain't giving you no trouble. Think I don't like to talk to somebody ever' once in a while? Think I like to stick in that house afla time?" (85). 
    • The  men are afraid to get in trouble and want Curley's wife to leave the barn.
    • Curley's Wife is lonely and she gets angry that the men won't talk to her, she bullies them and threathens to accuse Crooks of rape.
      "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. She closed on him. "You know what I could do?" Crooks seemed to grow smaller, and he pressed? himself against the wall. "Yes, ma'am. " "Well, you keep your place then, Nigger. I could get you strung up on a tree so easy it ain't even funny" (89). 
    • At the end of the chapter, Crooks realizes the dream will never come true because he is Black and he withdraws his offer to join George, Lennie and Candy.
      "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. She closed on him. "You know what I could do?" Crooks seemed to grow smaller, and he pressed? himself against the wall. "Yes, ma'am. " "Well, you keep your place then, Nigger. I could get you strung up on a tree so easy it ain't even funny" (91).
      CHAPTER 5 (pages 92-108) "Broken Dreams and Broken Necks"
    • Chapter 5 is about broken dreams.
    • In this chapter Lennie kills his puppy and Curley's Wife.
    • Curley's Wife had a dream to be an actress, when her dream is broken she married Curley.
    • Lennie kills his puppy and Curley's Wife. The dream to "live offa' the fatta' the land" comes to an end.
     
    • Sunday afternoon on the ranch and all of the men are playing in a horseshoes tournament, except Lennie.
    • Lennie is in the barn. He is staring at his dead pup, its neck is broken.
    Only Lennie was in the barn, and Lennie sat in the hay beside a packing case under a manger in the end of the barn that had not been filled with hay. Lennie sat in the hay and looked at a little dead puppy that lay in front of him. Lennie looked at it for a long time, and then he put out his huge hand and stroked it, stroked it clear from one end to the other. And Lennie said softly to the puppy, "Why do you got to get killed? You ain't so little as mice. I didn't bounce you hard. " He bent the pup's head up and looked in its face, and he said to it, "Now maybe George ain't gonna let me tend no rabbits, if he fin's out you got killed" (92).
    • Lennie gets very angry and throws the dead puppy across the barn
    "Suddenly his anger arose. "God damn you, " he cried. "Why do you got to get killed? You ain't so little as mice. " He picked up the pup and hurled it from him. He turned his back on it. He sat bent over his knees and he whispered, "Now I won't get to tend the rabbits. Now he won't let me. " He rocked himself back and forth in his sorrow" (93). 
    • Curley's Wife is lonely and looking for someone to talk to and she finds Lennie.
    • Lennie is scared he will get in trouble for talking to her.
    • Curley's Wife is upset, because no one will talk to her.
      Why can't I talk to you? I never get to talk to nobody. I get awful lonely. " Lennie said, "Well, I ain't supposed to talk to you or nothing. " "I get lonely, " she said. "You can talk to people, but I can't talk to nobody but Curley" (95).
    • Curley's wife tries to console Lennie about the dedad puppy.
    • Ironically, she is unconcerned about the dead dog because it is just another mutt.
      "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" (95). 
    • She tells Lennie about her dream to go to Hollywood.
    • When her dream was broken, by her mother, she leaves home and marries Curley.
      Seems like they ain't none of them cares how I gotta live. I tell you I ain't used to livin' like this. I coulda made somethin' of myself. " She said darkly, "Maybe I will yet...Well, a show come through, an' I met one of the actors. He says I could go with that show. But my of lady- wouldn' let me. She says because I was on'y fifteen...I wasn't gonna stay no place where I couldn't get nowhere or make something of myself..."Well, I ain't told this to nobody before. Maybe I ought'n to. I don'like Curley. He ain't a nice fella" (96-97). 
    • While Lennie and Curley's wife are talking, she allows Lennie to stroke her soft hair.
    • Lennie gets rough, Curley's wife gets scared and asks him to stop, Lennie gets scared and accidentally snaps her neck.
      Curley's wife moved away from him a little. "I think you're nuts, " she said. "No I ain't, " Lennie explained earnestly. "George says I ain't. I like to pet nice things with my fingers, sof' things. " She was a little bit reassured. "Well, who don't?" she said. "Ever'body likes that...But mine is soft and fine. 'Course I brush it a lot. That makes it fine. Here-feel right here. " She took Lennie's hand and put it on her head. "Feel right aroun' there an' see how soft it is. " Lennie's big fingers fell to stroking her hair. "Don't you muss it up, " she said. Lennie said, "Oh! That's nice, " and he stroked harder...And then she cried angrily, "You stop it now, you'll mess it all up. " She jerked her head sideways, and Lennie's fingers closed on her hair and hung on. "Let go, " she cried. "You let go!" Lennie was in a panic. His face was contorted. She screamed then, and Lennie's other hand closed over her mouth and nose. "Please don't, " he begged. "Oh! Please don't do that. George'll be mad. "He shook her then, and he was angry with her. "Don't you go yellin', " he said, and he shook her; and her body flopped like a fish. And then she was still, for Lennie had broken her neck" (98-100).  
      • After Lennie kills Curley's wife he is concerned that George will be mad and that he won't get to tend the rabbits.
      • Lennie runs away, and goes to hide in the brush until George comes for him.
        "I done a real bad thing, " he said. "I shouldn't of did that. George'll be mad. An' . . . . He said . . . . An' hide in the brush till he come. He's gonna be mad. In the brush till he come. Tha's what he said" (100). 
      • Curley's Wife body lies alone in the barn.
        "Curley's wife lay with a half-covering of yellow hay. And the meanness and the plannings and the discontent and the ache for attention were all gone from her face. She was very pretty and simple, and her face was sweet and young" (101).
      • Candy discovers her body and goes to get George.
      • They realize Lennie must have killed her by accident, but they know Lennie is dangerous none the less.
      • George asks Candy to him a few moments to get away from the barn before he tells the other men that Curley's Wife is dead. George doesn't want the other men to think he was involved in curley's Wife's death. George sneaks into the bunkhouse and comes out with his coat on. "Now you listen. The guys might think I was in on it. I'm gonna go in the bunk house. Then in a minute you come out and tell the guys about her, and I'll come along and make like I never seen her. Will you do that? So the guys won't think I was in on it?...George had put on his blue denim coat and buttoned it, and his black hat was pulled down low over his eyes" (105). 
        • Candy and George realize their dream of owning their own land has ended.
        Now Candy spoke his greatest fear. "You an' me can get that little place, can't we, George? You an' me can go there an' live nice, can't we, George? Can't we?" Before George answered, Candy dropped his head and looked down at the hay. He knew. 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. " "Then-it's all off?" Candy said sulkily" (104).  
      • As the chapter ends, Curley and the other men are getting together to go look for Lennie. Curley wants to shoot Lennie and George is trying to convince him to bring him to jail.
      • Carlson notices that his gun is missing, the men assume that Lennie has the gun and is dangerous.
    "There was a rise of voices in question, a drum of running feet and the men burst into the barn. Slim and Carlson and young Whit and Curley, and Crooks keeping back out of attention range. Candy came after them, and last of all came George. George had put on his blue denim coat and buttoned it, and his black hat was pulled down low over his eyes. The men raced around the last stall. Their eyes found Curley's wife in the gloom, they stopped and stood still and looked...Curley came suddenly to life. "I know who done it, " he cried. "That big son-of-a-bitch done it. I know he done it...He worked himself into a fury. "I'm gonna get him. I'm going for my shotgun. I'll kill the big son-of-a-bitch myself. I'll shoot 'im in the guts....Slim sighed. "Well, I guess we got to get him. Where you think he might of went?" It seemed to take George some time to free his words. "He-would of went south, " he said. "We come from north so he would of went south. " Carlson came running in, "The bastard's stole my Luger, " he shouted. "It ain't in my bag" (103-107). 

     

    Chapter 6 (Pages 108-118) "Tell How It's Gonna Be"

     

    The novel Of  Mice and Men has a circular plot line
    In Chapter 6 the story has come full circle. Lennie and George have returned to the banks of the Salinas River.

    • When Lennie first gets to the river he is proud of himself for remembering George's instructions.
    • Lennie has 2 hallucinations at the river.
    • In the first hallucination he sees his Aunt Clara, who chastises him for not listening to George and getting in trouble.
    • "And then from out of Lennie's head there came a little fat old woman. She wore thick bull's-eye glasses and she wore a huge gingham apron with pockets, and she was starched and clean. 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. .. "You never give a thought to George, " she went on in Lennie's voice. "He been doin' nice things for you alla time. When he got a piece of pie you always got half or more'n half. An' if they was any ketchup, why he'd give it all to you. " "I know, " said Lennie miserably. "I tried, Aunt Clara, ma'am. I tried and tried" (98). 
    • The the second hallucination, a huge rabbit chastises Lennie and tells  him that George is angry and will beat him.
    • "Aunt Clara was gone, and from out of Lennie's head there came a gigantic rabbit... If you think George gonna let you tend rabbits, you're even crazier'n usual. He ain't. He's gonna bear hell outa you with a stick, that's what he's gonna do" (99).
    • Both hallucinations show Lennie's childlike level of intelligence.
    • He feels bad, because he was bad, not because he killed Curley's Wife.
    • Lennie asks George to tell him the story of their dream again.
    • George sits just behind Lennie and "tells how it's gonna be"
    • George makes Lennie happy talking about their farm and the rabbits.
    • As George tells the story, Curley and the other men can be heard getting closer.

    "George had been listening to the distant sounds. For a moment he was business-like. "Look acrost the river, Lennie, an' I'll tell you so you can almost see it. " Lennie turned his head and looked off across the pool and up the darkening slopes of the Gabilans. "We gonna get a little place, " George began. He reached in his side pocket and brought out Carlson's Luger; he snapped off the safety, and the hand and gun lay on the ground behind Lennie's back. He looked at the back of Lennie's head, at the place where the spine and skull were joined. A man's voice called from up the river, and an-other man answered. "Go on, " said Lennie. George raised the gun and his hands shook, and he dropped his hand to the ground again" (103). 

    • George realizes he cannot take care of Lennie anymore. He cannot protect Lennie.
    • Curley is planning on shooting Lennie in the gut, so Lennie will die slowly and painfully.
    • If Lennie goes to jail he will be locked up like an animal and he will suffer as well.
    • George takes Carlson's gun out of his pocket and shoots Lennie.
    • George feels the only way he can help Lennie or protect him is a mercy killing. George kills Lennie quickly and painlessly to prevent suffering.

    "Lennie said, "I thought you was mad at me, George. " "No, " said George. "No, Lennie. I ain't mad. I never been mad, an' I ain't now. That's a thing I want ya to know. " The voices came close now. George raised the gun and listened to the voices. Lennie begged, "Le's do it now. Le's get that place now. " "Sure, right now. I gotta. We gotta. " And George raised the gun and steadied it, and he brought the muzzle of it close to the back of Lennie's head. The hand shook violently, but his face set and his hand steadied. He pulled the trigger. The crash of the shot rolled up the hills and rolled down again" (104). 

    • The other men arrive at the river.
    • Only Slim figures out what George has done. Slim understands that George killed Lennie because he was his friend.

     "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" (105).