Essay, Research Paper: Of Mice And Men Application

Literature: Steinbeck

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Summary John Steinbeck wrote the book Of Mice & Men in 1937 during the Great
Depression. The book is about the lives of two men who travel from job to job
working on ranches and farms. These two main characters are George Milton and
Lennie Small. George is a short, slight man and Lennie is a large, mildly
retarded man. George looks out for Lennie and in return George gets
companionship and protection from Lennie. The other characters in the book (all
on a ranch near Soledad) are Candy, a “swamper” or handyman, Crooks, a black
stable buck, Slim, the jerkline skinner, Curley, the boss’s son, and
Curley’s new young wife. Of Mice & Men starts out with George and Lennie
walking from the bus stop to the ranch where they have a new job. On their way
to the ranch George instructs Lennie on how to act with their new boss so they
don’t lose this job, like they lost their previous one. They decide to camp
next to a pool of water. They discuss how they are going to spend the money they
earn to buy land and start their own farm. They sit by the fire and talk about
this dream. George tells Lennie to come back to this camp place if he gets into
trouble like he did in the last town. They make their beds next to the fire and
go to sleep. The next morning George and Lennie walk the rest of the way to the
ranch. They get settled into the bunkhouse and make friends with Candy, who gave
them their bed assignments. The boss’s son, Curley, comes in looking for his
wife and harasses Lennie, even though George tries to answer all Curley’s
questions. According to Candy, “Curley’s like a lot of little guys. He hates
big guys. He’s alla time picking scraps with big guys. Kind of like he’s mad
at ‘em because he ain’t a big guy.”(49) George and Lennie also meet
Curley’s wife. “She had full, rouged lips and wide-spaced eyes, heavily made
up. Her fingernails were red.”(57) George and Lennie work that afternoon on
the ranch and Slim, the jerkline skinner who handles the draft animals at the
ranch, is impressed with how strong Lennie is and how much barley he can buck
compared to other men. Candy hears George and Lennie talking about the place
they are going to get and wants to go in with them. George agrees to let him,
because Candy has almost enough money saved up. They all start to believe they
can really obtain their dream. Curley enters the bunkhouse looking for his wife.
He suspects she is with Slim and when he finds she is not, the men give Curley a
bad time about his wife. Curley catches Lennie smiling, and thinks Lennie is
laughing at him. He attacks Lennie but Lennie tries to retreat and just stands
there and takes it as Curley hits him. Finally George yells “Get him, Lennie,”
(111) so Lennie grabs Curley’s hand and doesn’t let go. When Lennie finally
lets go of Curley’s hand it is crushed. To save Lennie, Slim threatens Curley
and he agrees to tell everyone that he caught his hand in a piece of machinery
to save face. Slim’s dog had puppies and Slim gives Lennie a puppy that Lennie
can’t leave alone. Lennie is always out in the barn petting his puppy and one
time he goes into Crook’s room, which is off the barn. Crooks is the old black
“stable buck.” Crooks tells Lennie no one is allowed in his room, but Lennie
doesn’t understand and comes in and talks to Crooks anyway. Candy comes into
the barn looking for Lennie and finds Lennie with Crooks. Lennie and Candy talk
about their plans and Crooks asks if he can work for them. Crooks wants in on
the dream too. Later, when Lennie is playing in the barn with his puppy again,
the puppy nips at Lennie, so he slaps and kills it by accident. Lennie worries
that he will never get to tend the rabbits, as George has been promising. He
lays the puppy down and covers him up with hay but then he wants to feel the
soft puppy again, so he uncovers it and begins to stroke it. Curley’s wife
comes in to the barn and startles Lennie. He quickly covers it up again, hoping
that she won’t notice the dead puppy, but it’s too late. She comforts Lennie
by telling him that the dog was only a mutt and not to worry. Lennie feels much
better and decides that he can talk to her. Lennie tells her about his obsession
with soft things and she tells him how insane she was for marrying Curley. She
lets Lennie feel her hair, but Lennie gets out of control and she starts to
scream. He tries to tell her to stop but she doesn’t listen. He covers her
mouth and shakes her so violently that it breaks her neck. Lennie lays her down
and covers her with hay. He runs through the woods to the hiding place. Candy
discovers Curley’s wife and gets George. George goes into the bunkhouse and
gets Carlson’s Lugar pistol while Candy tells the men what he’s found. The
men form search parties and go after Lennie. They are planning to kill Lennie
when they find him. While Lennie is waiting for George, he starts to hear his
Aunt Clara telling him that he has ruined George’s life and a big rabbit
telling him that he will never get to tend the rabbits. George hears him and
finds Lennie mumbling about the rabbits. George tells Lennie that it is going to
be all right. Lennie wants George to tell him about their plans the way he has
done one hundred times before. George tells Lennie to look across the river so
he can see the little place they’re going to get. George hears the mob coming
and he distracts Lennie so he won’t hear the men coming. George starts to tell
Lennie about their place as he pulls out the gun and aims it at Lennie’s head.
He raises the gun and shoots Lennie in the back of the head because he knows
that the mob of men will torture Lennie. The mob of men hear the shot and come
running. They congratulate George for killing Lennie. Both George and Slim feel
bad, but they both know it was better for Lennie. The others don’t even
realize what is bothering them.
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