Of Mice and Men takes place sometime during the Depression of the 1930 s. The book starts off next to a stream near the Salinas River, a few miles South of Soledad. Then the setting moves to an isolated, lonely looking ranch, where the main part of the story takes place. Then at the end of the book, the setting comes back to where it started.
George – the main character of the book. He is a caring, understanding, and dreams of owning his own piece of land.
Lennie – the loyal friend of George. He has a child’s mind and a giant’s body. It is these contrasting qualities that cause him problems.
Old Candy – one of the lonely ranch workers. He is a cripple, working as a ‘Swamper’.
Crooks – named for his crooked body; he is a proud Negro man that works on the Ranch. He is neat and has a mind of his own. He is a lonely character, who is discriminated against, due to his race.
Slim – a ranch worker with leadership qualities. He commands respect from all on the ranch.
Curley – the boss’s son who is a light weight boxer. He picks fights with everybody on the ranch.
Curley’s wife – the only woman on the ranch. She is very flirtatious.
George and Lennie live during the depression and they wander from town to town doing jobs but Lennie always gets them in trouble. For example, this girl thought Lennie was trying to rape her when he was really just feeling her dress since he liked the material.
Lennie dreams of owning a rabbit farm and is mentally retarded. Sometimes he ends up killing animals because he is so strong. When he accidentally kills Curley’s wife problems arise and George has to kill him so they won’t lock him up.
I think that this novel’s theme was loneliness. All of the workers were lonely in a sense, although they had people around them to talk to. They couldn’t let out any of their feelings because another worker could use it against them. The last line of the book– “What the hell do you suppose is eatin’ them two guys?”–is said by Carlson. Now, why would any person with any sense of sympathy or knowledge of others wonder that? The man just killed his best friend but Carlson didn’t seem to understand because he never had had a good friend, not one that he would feel bad for at least. These men never knew what it is like to share. They have always had to be strong. This to me shows that they were the best examples of loneliness.
George is the kind-hearted ranch hand who is concerned about his friend Lennie and watches out for him. Because he has a giant’s body and a child’s mind, Lennie accidentally kills Curley’s wife; at the same time he kills the dream of owning a farm that has kept George and Lennie positive about the future. The climax occurs when Lennie accidentally kills Curley’s wife. George knows that he can no longer save Lennie, for Curley will want revenge. Of Mice and Men ends in tragedy. George feels compelled to mercifully kill his friend and companion, Lennie, in order to save him from a brutal death.
The book was sad, but it truly is a great. It describes so many things about life. Some examples are: how dreams help give meaning to life, the importance of friendship, and how life unabashedly kicks you repeatedly down. If you are looking for a book that depicts a rosy existence, this is not the one.