Salinas Valley, California during the Great Depression in the 1930s.
Lennie Small and his friend, George Milton, were forced to leave their homes because Lennie was accused of raping a girl from another town. The book begins with the two of them hiding from the angry townspeople. Lennie had a tendency to kill small, soft animals by accident; he was unaware of his own strength. This repeatedly leads to severe problems.
George Milton – George is small, intelligent, dark of face, has restless eyes and sharp, strong features with every part of him defined. He is a cousin to Lennie and loves him very much. Always has to bail Lennie out of his troubles.
Lennie Small – Lennie is unnaturally large and has a shapeless face. He drags his feet when he walks and lets his arms hang. He is mentally retarded and needs George’s constant attention and care. He has an infatuation with anything soft and furry. He acts impulsively which gets him and George into trouble numerous times.
Curley – Curley is the boss’s son, and was a welterweight boxer. He was short and stocky, and wore high-heeled boots and spurs to prove he wasn’t a laboring man. He believes himself superior to everyone.
Candy-He is an old man that is missing a hand.He is an outcast and is
discriminated against. He offers his life savings to George and Lennie to
help finance their dream. He wants to be a part of it and live on the farm
with them. He has a friend and long time companion, his dog. Candy is afraid
of being alone but he consents to the killing of his dog and wishes he could
have killed him himself after it is over. Candy represents what will
ultimately happen to all ranch hands. They will get old and have no place to
go. Candy is very old and has hardly any money to his name.
Crooks-Black stable worker. He is disfigured and is an outcast as well as
Candy. He has a place of his own and stays there by himself. He doesn’t want
company. He also wants to be part of George and Lennie’s dream. He said that
he would work for free. He gives up on the farm dream when he realizes it
isn’t going to work out. He is the only one who understands Lennie, besides
George, and befriends him. He looks past Lennie’s mental handicap and Lennie
looks past Crooks’ physical handicap.
Slim-Tall, thin and quiet. Slim is both respected and admired. Everyone
seeks his approval, even Curley, who seems to have contempt for everyone else
on the ranch. The others give into Slim because his word is the law. He is
the voice of reason and understanding, and he consoles George after he has
killed Lennie. Slim is the kind of man that George hopes to become one day.
Carlson- He has a lack of concern for other people’s feelings and doesn’t take
time to understand them. He is an insensitive person who cares nothing for
others. He pushes for the killing of Candy’s dog and doesn’t understand why
George is so upset after he has killed Lennie. Carlson is the type of man
Curley’s wife-There isn’t much known about her. She isn’t even given a name
but referred to as Curley’s wife. She is lonely because Curley doesn’t pay
much attention to her. This lack of attention from Curley forces her to seek
it elsewhere. She flirts with the other ranch hands but they pay her no
attention either. She is in reality the end of George’s and Lennie’s dream.
When Lennie kills her their dream is forever lost.
Boss-There is little known about him, except that Curley is his son. He
interviews Lennie and George when they first come to the farm. He becomes
suspicious that George is trying to put one over him because he won’t let
Lennie talk. He thinks that George is going to take Lennie’s pay, he warns
them he has seen wise guys before. He says that nobody can get away with
anything. They can’t trick him. He isn’t a trustworthy person.
Lennie and George are hiding after getting off a bus that took them from Weed to Soledad. They were forced to leave Weed because Lennie was accused of rape. This was a very common occurrence – not being accused of rape, but being driven out of when they were. They went from ranch to ranch. They sit eating and talking about the past and talking about the future – the future where they own a ranch of their own with rabbits and chickens, and where they live off “the fatta the lan’.” They discuss what there plans are for the next day; they are to go to the ranch and George is to do all the talking.
Lennie and George arrived at the ranch where an old man introduced them to their new home. The boss walked in while George and Candy (the old man) are talking. He takes down George and Lennie’s names, where they worked before, and what skills they have. George answers every time for Lennie, which makes the boss curious. He asks George what his interest in Lennie is, thinking that George is out to get Lennie’s pay. George told the boss that Lennie had been kicked in the head by a horse when he was little, and he had told Lennie’s aunt that he would take care of Lennie. When the boss left, Candy came back in with his dog after listening to the conversation through the door. Curley, the boss’ son, came in soon after. He noticed the two new guys and saw a challenge – especially in Lennie. Once Curley left, George and Candy had a discussion about him. Candy said that Curley just does not like men who are bigger than him. Curley has been even cockier since he got married. Candy also said that Curley’s wife is a bit of a “tart, and then he left to go to work. Soon after, Curley’s wife entered looking for her husband. After flirting with George and winning Lennie’s love, she leaves just as Slim comes in. Slim introduces George and Lennie to Carlson. After another short confrontation with Curley the men went to dinner.
Slim’s dog just had puppies and George asked if Lennie could have one. Slim said yes. After dinner Slim and George went back to the bunkhouse and sat down to play a game of cards while the men outside played horseshoes. George told Slim about the incident in Weed. Lennie had met this girl that was wearing a pretty red dress. He also had a problem where he has to touch things that he likes, so he innocently grabbed the dress. The girl started screaming because she got scared which scared Lennie. He held on tighter because he did not know what to do. The girl accused Lennie of rape and the two men had to hide until nightfall and then leave town.
Lennie entered the bunkhouse hiding his new puppy underneath his coat and George promptly sent him to put it back. Candy and his old dog joined George and Slim and soon Carlson entered, too. Carlson tried to convince Candy to shoot his dog because it was so old and in constant pain. Candy finally gave in after several minutes of debate but had Carlson shoot and bury the dog. He regretted not shooting his own dog later on. Crooks poked his head through the bunkhouse door telling Slim that his mule’s hoof was ready to be tarred and Slim left. Several minutes later Curley came into the bunkhouse looking for his wife. He was told that no one had seen her around and was about to leave but he noticed that Slim was not there, either. He asked where Slim was and took off after him to the stables, thinking that Slim was with his wife. Whit and Carlson who had returned from shooting the dog followed Curley out, hoping for a fight. George and Lennie forgot that Candy was still there and started discussing their plans for the future. Candy wanted to join them at their farm but George was cautious at first. When Candy said that he could put in $350 towards buying the farm, their dreams seemed possible. After the discussion, Slim and Curley walked in arguing. Slim is tired of being accused of spending time with Curley’s wife. Curley, already in a bad mood, saw Lennie smiling and laughing to himself still daydreaming about his rabbit-filled farm, and punches Lennie in the face. Lennie was terrified and tried to block the punches, but Curley hits him in the nose and stomach. George ordered Lennie to fight back. Lennie grabbed a flying fist and held tight, too scared to let go, crushing every bone in Curley’s hand. George had to slap Lennie numerous times in order to get him to let go of Curley’s broken hand. Slim got one of the men to get a buggy ready to take Curley to a doctor, George tried to convince Lennie that it was not his fault.
Crooks, a cripple and a stable buck, stayed the longest and has many possessions. Crooks is proud and keeps his distance from the other workers. When Crooks is rubbing liniment on his back Lennie comes in and smiles wanting to be friends with him, but Crooks gets angry. Lennie asks him why he is not with the other workers, Crooks says because he is black and the others don’t want to be with him.When Lennie mentions the plans he has with George about a farm with rabbits, Crooks thinks he is crazy. Crooks tells Lennie about how during his childhood his family was the only black family in the town. Then Crooks asks Lennie what he would do if George did not come back, and Lennie got scared. Candy comes looking for Lennie, and they all start talking, when Lennie tells about the plans for the land, Crooks tells him it will never happen. Curley’s wife comes into Crook’s room but all the workers want her to go home. The men tell her to leave but she refuses, then laughs at Lennie’s idea of land. When Crooks tells her to leave, she threatens him but then leaves, and George comes for Lennie.
Lennie sat in the barn. He killed his puppy. He tries to hide it so George does not find out. He got angry and threw the puppy and walked away. Curley’s wife came into the brand but Lennie refused to talk to her. She tells him she is lonely and wants someone to talk to. She fins out the puppy died and tells him he could get another one. When Lennie tells her he is not supposed to talk to her, she gets angry and asks why not, she will not harm him. Curley’s wife tells Lennie she does not like Curley and hates living on the ranch. Curley’s wife lets Lennie feel her soft hair, then tells him to let go but he panicked, and broke her neck accidentally. Lennie plans to throw the puppy away and leaves. Candy finds Curley’s dead wife, shows George. Both know it was Lennie’s fault. Candy asks George if they would still get the land, but he knows it will not happen. Curley and the rest of the men found Curley’s wife and knew Lennie did it. All the men got together to look for Lennie, planning to shoot him.
Lennie goes to the place George told him to go to if he got into trouble. Lennie imagined his Aunt Clara, who scolded him for always getting into trouble and never caring about George, who has to take care of him. Lennie imagined a rabbit who told him that George would get rid of him because he is sick of him. George came and when Lennie asked him if he would leave, George says no. When Lennie offers to leave, George declines. George tells Lennie of their plans for a rabbit farm and tells Lennie to look across the river. George puts the gun to the back of Lennie’s head and shoots him. Slim guesses what happened and tells George it had to be done
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