Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Of Mice and Men is a classic novel that revolves around the main characters of George Milton and Lennie Small. George, a short, fiery tempered man, and Lennie, a large, burley man who is mentally retarded, travel around together working on various ranches in order to earn money towards their own dream ranch. They plan to one day own their own ranch with the perks of freedom for George and soft pet rabbits for Lennie. After fleeing the town of Weed because of some trouble Lennie caused with a girl and a certain soft dress, George and Lennie find themselves working on yet another ranch. While there, they encounter many new people, including the short-tempered and eager-to-fight Curley, who also happens to be the boss's son. George suspects trouble with Curley in the future, just as he suspects trouble with Curley's wife, a lonely, slinky young woman who always seems to be hanging around with every man other than her husband. Also on the ranch, George and Lennie meet Slim, the head ranch hand, Crooks, the lonely negro stable hand, and Candy, an old man missing a hand. Then , when Candy offers a significant amount of money towards George and Lennie's dream ranch, the idea of actually buying the ranch and living the dream seems possible. However, not all dreams come true. On the contrary, some come to an abrupt and shattering halt. When Lennie accidentally kills Curley's wife, George is left with the tormenting decision of either allowing Curley and his men to go and brutally kill Lennie themselves, having Lennie locked up in an insane asylum for the rest of his life, or taking matters into his own hands. George knows that he cannot allow Lennie to keep causing trouble like this, and he is left with no other choice than to shoot Lennie himself. Following Lennie's death, the idea of the dream ranch shatters because without Lennie, there really is no dream ranch. Although the conclusion of the book is rather depressing, it offers an insightful and provocative look into the idea that dreams do not always come true.

Major Characters

George Milton- Small, short-tempered man who travels with and watches out for Lennie and shares the dream of one day owning their own ranch. Shoots Lennie at the end of the book.

Lennie Small- Huge, burly, mentally retarded man. He travels with George and shares the idea of the dream ranch. Often causes trouble because of his infatuation with soft things. Towards the end of the book he kills Curley's wife and is then shot by George.

Curley- Extremely short-tempered son of the boss of the ranch. Beats up Lennie, and in return has his hand crushed to pieces by Lennie.

Curley's Wife- Very lonely wife of Curley, she is not given a name during the book because she is a woman. Always trying to talk to the ranch hands to relieve her lonlieness. Killed by Lennie at the end of the book.

Candy- Old ranch hand who's missing a hand. The money that he offers towards the dream ranch makes the ranch a plausible and realistic dream

Slim- Head of the ranch hands; commanding, respected, has an air of power and control about him. He is the only one to sympathize with George after he shoots Lennie.

Crooks- Lonely negro stable hand with a crooked back.

Carlson- Ranch hand who shoots Candy's old dog.


I did NOT like the ending of the book! Lennie was my favorite character, and I was totally thrown when George shot him. Plus, the last sentence of the book completely left me hanging. I found myself re-reading and flipping through the last pages thinking "That's it?" However, I really liked how John Steinbeck developed his characters. They each had their own, unique personalities that made them stand out from the other characters. Also, I really liked how he made special use of the characters' last names. For example, Lennie "Small" because he may have a small mind but he's a HUGE guy. Also, "Curley" because he's curley like a spring and always ready to pounce. I thought Steinbeck's usage of names was really creative, and that was one of my favorite elements of the novel.

What Can W
Of Mice and Men the Movie
Of Mice and Men the Movie
e Learn From Reading This Book?

The main lesson that can be learned from this book is the fact that not all dreams come true. Whether it's because they're not realistic or because something gets in the way of and interrupts the dream, the sad truth of the matter is that more often than not, dreams fail. In Of Mice and Men, the dream ranch seemed like a plausible idea when Candy offered up so much money to help the dream take flight. However, no one expected that things would go so amiss and Lennie would end up killing Curley's wife. Life is full of curveballs, and a lot of times those curveballs shatter dreams. As humans, we have to learn to adjust to all the curveballs that life throws at as because there is no way to avoid them completely. Basically, Of Mice and Men teaches us that having hopes and dreams and aspirations isn't a bad thing, but you have to be prepared in the event that your dream fails.

Essential Questions

1.) What is meant by the American Dream?

Well, when I think of the American Dream, I think of a quaint little house in a nice neighborhood full of nice people. There has to be a white picket fence of course, and a nice car in the driveway. The American Dream includes a family of four with one son and one daughter living in that perfect little house. You have to have a good job and make a fair amount of money. You work 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week, and you take your paid vacations with your family to nice place like Hawaii. The American Dream is basically having a perfect, simple, ordinary life. Everything is good, and everything is right. You have freedom, oppurtunity, and civil rights. The American Dream basically says that if you work hard, you'll achieve success and life will be just dandy.

2.) Is the American Dream still a viable element today?

Yes, the American Dream is still a viable element today. People still hope for a successful future and envision their own little American Dream. However, there are some people that the American Dream does not apply to. Some people may not want to start a family or go through college and get a good-paying job. Other people may be too lazy to work hard towards achieving their dreams. Then there's people who don't even know about the "American Dream". People who are homeless or starving have different things on their minds than working hard to achieve a bright future. They're just trying to live through the day. So yeah, the American Dream is still a viable element, but not to everyone.

3.) Is the American Dream a destructive or empowering force, or a combination of both?

The American Dream is definitely a combination of both. On one hand, having something to dream about, to look forward to , empowers a person. It gives them hope, and hope is an extremely powerful force. On the other hand, the American Dream can be very destructive. Many people don't seem to realize that things don't always go as planned, and many times their hopes for the future are dashed and their dreams come crumbling and tumbling down on them with exponential force. Basically, people who have dreams have to take into consideration that sometimes there are factors outside of their control. Therefore, not all dreams will come true, and there's really nothing you can do to fix that.

4.) What constitutes a genuine friendship?

A genuine friendship is defined by qualities like trust, care, honesty, kindness, compatibility, sympathy, etc. In Of Mice and Men, George and Lennie's friendship may not really seem like a friendship at times. George yells at Lennie and calls him names, and Lennie threatens to run away from George and go live in a cage. However, certain parts of the story display just how strong the friendship between George and Lennie really is. For example, when Lennie threatens to run away from George, George doesn't let him go. This shows that no matter how much George may complain about Lennie, he still considers him a friend and is greatful for his companionship. Also, when George makes the decision to shoot Lennie, he shows obvious distress and sadness for his friend. He is sympathetic and merciful enough to put Lennie's mind in a state of peace, however, with visions of their dream ranch. In the end, George and Lennie display the qualities that constitute a genuine friendship all throughout Of Mice and Men, even if at times it may not seem that way.

The American Dream Exibit A
The American Dream Exibit A
The American Dream Exhibit B
The American Dream Exhibit B