Of Mice and Men
Written by John Steinbeck
n1233.jpg picture by Rasmoose23
n1233.jpg picture by Rasmoose23

Summary: In this novel, two ranch hands named George Milton and Lennie Small dream of someday owning their own ranch. Lennie, an enormous man suffering from mental retardation and loves soft things, travels along with George Milton, a smaller man who is certainly not afraid to speak his mind. Lennie joins George on his travels after his Aunt Clara dies, and he no longer has anyone to look after him. Because of Lennie’s actions, he and George are forced to flee Weed, the town they currently were employed in. George and Lennie travel to a new ranch in California in search of money so they can fulfill their life-long dream of someday owning a ranch. They befriend a crippled man named Candy who can help with the expenses of the ranch. Lennie gets involved in some catastrophic events at the end of the book, and leaves George to make a life-altering decision that could haunt him for the rest of his life.

Description of Major Characters:

George Milton – A small man with big dreams, and is one of the two main characters in the book. He gets Lennie out of trouble and dreams of someday owning his own ranch with Lennie. He is Lennie’s caretaker once his Aunt Clara passes away.

Lennie Small – A large man with large ‘bear paws’ for hands, and is affectionate towards soft things including small animals. He is mentally retarded and acts like a child at heart because of it. He gets himself into major trouble on two occasions in the book.

Old Candy – He is a crippled ranch hand who lost his hand in a machine while working on the ranch. He becomes friends with George and Lennie on their first day at the ranch. He also later becomes involved with the idea of owning a ranch someday.

Curley – He is the boss’s son, and is second in command of the ranch. Being a smaller man himself, he despises tall, strong men – like Lennie – and creates trouble as often as he can. He perceives himself as an intimidating ‘tough guy,’ even though none of the ranch hands respect him.

Curley’s Wife – She is a nameless character in the book because of her little status, and the wife of the boss’s son Curley. Being the only female on the ranch, she flirts with the ranch hands (when Curley isn’t around) and does it for attention. She dreamed of being in movies, but settled with marrying Curley.

Crooks – He is a disabled worker on the ranch, with a very low status. He is African-American, and this time in our country’s history, he dealt with racial discrimination. He was kicked in the back by a horse, and has a now crooked spine to prove it. He is not allowed in the bunk house, and is lonely because he inhabits a little room in the barn.

Likes: In Of Mice and Men, I liked how the author wrote the characters’ dialogues in the way that people would have spoken back in the 1930s; it made the book seem more historically accurate, and it was interesting to read how people from the 1930s spoke.

Dislikes: There were, however – pertaining to what I enjoyed about this book – several aspects of the book that I did not care for. I didn’t like how often the characters swore; since it is in a high school level curriculum, I feel as though the constant swearing was unnecessary. I also did not like the ending of the book, starting when Lennie killed Curley’s wife. There seemed to be too many deaths at the end of this novel.

What can we learn from reading this book?
From the book Of Mice and Men, we can learn how people of the 1930s communicated with one another. We can learn that some dreams you have may not come true, no matter how hard you work at them. Also, we can learn that even the strongest bonds of friendship cannot survive through everything, and can be ended. But also, we can learn that it takes true determination and perseverance to make your dreams come true.

Answers to Essential Questions:

· What is meant by the American Dream?
o I n the early to mid 1900s, the American Dream consisted of owning a decent sized house, enclosed by a ‘white picket fence.’ The man of the house would have a well paying job, and the wife would stay at home to cook and clean, but to also take care of the children. To me, part of the American Dream is having everything that you need to live, and being happy with what you have. Those seeking the American Dream would live successful lives, and would be happy with themselves and their accomplishments.
· Is the American Dream still a viable element today?
o For some Americans, I think the Dream is still a viable element today. Because of our economy, jobs are getting cut, and the unemployment rate is rapidly increasing. Those who have jobs are thankful for their work, and are able to be contempt with owning a small house, and being able to provide the basic needs for their families. However, since this is not the 1930s, some people are not willing to work for their share of the American Dream, and wish they had all of the items that they want, and cannot find happiness in what they already have.
· Is the American Dream a destructive or empowering force, or both?
o Because of some aspects, I feel as though the American Dream is a destructive force, as well as an empowering force. Some people tend to get wrapped up in their ideal lifestyle, and reality can quickly get away from them. While these people are off living in their fantasy world, other people living in reality use the American Dream as a goal for themselves. These people want a house, a well-paying job, and the ability to provide for a family, but in today’s real world. The American Dream is empowering these people to work until they achieve their dreams; these people are determined and full of perseverance.
· What constitutes a genuine friendship?
o In a true friendship, friends share an unbreakable bond. This bond is formed of the trust they have in each other. True friends can lean on one another for support as they endure hard times, or when they simply need someone to talk to. Also, true friends are kind and caring people with true hearts, who don’t judge people for what they look like, but rather look inside at their inner beauty.

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