Of mice and men novel summary
Of Mice and Men by John SteinbeckThe compelling story of two outsiders striving to find their place in an unforgiving world. Drifters in search of work, George and his simple-minded friend Lennie have nothing in the world except each other and a dream--a dream that one day they will have some land of their own. Eventually they find work on a ranch in California’s Salinas Valley, but their hopes are doomed as Lennie, struggling against extreme cruelty, misunderstanding and feelings of jealousy, becomes a victim of his own strength. Tackling universal themes such as the friendship of a shared vision, and giving voice to America’s lonely and dispossessed, Of Mice and Men has proved one of Steinbeck’s most popular works, achieving success as a novel, a Broadway play and three acclaimed films.
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'Of Mice and Men' Summary
The novel, which takes place during the Great Depression, begins beside the Salinas River near Soledad, California, where two migrant workers, Lennie Small and George Milton, are walking on their way to a nearby ranch. They have recently escaped from a farm near Weed where Lennie, a mentally deficient yet gentle man, was wrongly accused of rape when he touched a woman to feel her soft dress. As they walk along, George scolds Lennie for playing with a dead mouse and warns him not to speak when they arrive at their new place of employment. When Lennie complains about not having ketchup for the beans they eat for dinner, George becomes angry, telling Lennie that he would be better off if he didn't have to take care of him. After they make up, George repeats to Lennie the details of their dream - that he and Lennie will raise enough money to buy a patch of land, where they will have a small farm with a vegetable patch and a rabbit hutch. The rabbit hutch is the only detail of the plan that Lennie consistently remembers. George tells Lennie that, if he gets into trouble as he did in Weed, he should return to the brush near the river and wait for George to find him.
George, the smaller man, leads the way and makes the decisions for Lennie, a mentally handicapped giant. They stop at a stream for the evening, deciding to go to the ranch in the morning. Lennie, who loves to pet anything soft, has a dead mouse in his pocket. George takes the mouse away from Lennie and reminds him of the trouble Lennie got into in the last town they were in — he touched a girl's soft dress. George then reminds Lennie not to speak to anyone in the morning when they get to the ranch and cautions Lennie to return to this place by the river if anything bad happens at the ranch. When he has to take the dead mouse away from Lennie a second time, George chafes at the hardship of taking care of Lennie. After calming his anger, George relents and promises Lennie they will try to find him a puppy; then he tells Lennie about their dream of having a little farm where they can be their own boss and nobody can tell them what to do, where Lennie will tend their rabbits, and where they will "live off the fatta the lan'.
Two migrant workers, George and Lennie, have been let off a bus miles away from the California farm where they are due to start work. Overcome with thirst, the two stop in a clearing by a pool and decide to camp for the night. As the two converse, it becomes clear that Lennie has a mild mental disability, and is deeply devoted to George and dependent upon him for protection and guidance. George finds that Lennie, who loves petting soft things but often accidentally kills them, has been carrying and stroking a dead mouse. George angrily throws it away, fearing that Lennie might catch a disease from the dead animal. George complains loudly that his life would be easier without having to care for Lennie, but the reader senses that their friendship and devotion is mutual.
by John Steinbeck
Toggle navigation. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. - Of Mice and Men is a novella written by John Steinbeck. Steinbeck based the novella on his own experiences working alongside migrant farm workers as a teenager in the s before the arrival of the Okies that he would describe in The Grapes of Wrath.
The novella tells the story of George Milton and Lennie Small, two migrant workers who travel from farm to farm in search of work in Depression-era California. The story begins with two childhood friends, George Milton and Lennie Small, who are traveling through California in search of work. Lennie is drinking from a puddle of standing water, and George reproaches him. When Lennie stops drinking the water, George reminds him that they only have a little way to go until they arrive at their next farm. George mentions that Lennie picked up the habit from his Aunt Clara, then reminds Lennie that he always used to kill the mice.
Lennie and George are best friends on a road trip, but this isn't that fun kind of road trip with wacky adventures. They're broke and looking for work on the farms of Northern California. The broke part is a problem, since they're planning on owning a farm someday. George is the brains behind this operation, while Lennie is, well, a few crayons short of a colors box. The duo can't hold down jobs for long, thanks to Lennie's childlike mentality and odd fetish for petting things, which includes mice, rabbits, puppies, and women. This last one, of course, being the biggest issue—and it actually got them kicked out of their last job. Good fortune smiles upon them briefly when they get work at a ranch near Soledad, California.