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Of Mice and Men introduction
Transcript of Of Mice and Men introduction
John Steinbeck is an American writer.
He was born in Salinas, California on February 27, 1902 and died December 20, 1968 in New York City. He was the author of 27 books including sixteen novels, six non-fiction books, and five short story collections. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962.
Context: The market crash of 1929 caused the Great Depression - a decade of unemployment, poverty, and low profits for the entire United States. The economy was at its lowest in 1932-33. Agricultural industries suffered even more than others because of the Dust Bowls - periods of severe drought, most damaging in 1934 and 1936.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave out money to the land owners with expectation to share it, but sadly they didn't.
African American's and American's that worked on ranches started unions to fight the owners for money.
African American's were killed by the owners for trying to start unions. They worked as slaves.
The unions that were well established still didn't have some rights.
Federal protection was given to the union members except those that worked in Agriculture.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
George and Lennie's farm
The American Dream
Freedom, independence, safety
Outliving one's usefulness
The future; old age
Fragility and innocence
A symbol carries a secondary meaning other then its literal one.
George is Lennie’s best friend and is like a parent to Lennie. George stays with Lennie even though Lennie has gotten them into trouble and caused them to both lose their jobs.
Another ranch hand.
Aunt Clara is only mentioned in Lennie’s past. She used to take care of Lennie and give him mice to pet before she died.
Slim is a "jerkline skinner" (drives the mules) and is the head of the ranch workers. Everyone looks up to him for help and advice. “There was a gravity in his manner and a quiet so profound that all talk stopped when he spoke. His authority was so great that his word was taken on any subject, be it politics or love.”
Curley's wife is "trouble." She feels lonely because she is the only woman on the ranch, and she expresses this loneliness by hanging around the ranch hands.
The only African-American on the ranch. He has a crooked back, hence his nickname "Crooks." Not being allowed in the bunkhouse because of his race, Crooks is very lonely.
The Boss is Curley's father and the owner of the ranch.
Candy's beloved dog is old, smelly, and useless. Think of him as a character, yes, but also as a symbol.
Lennie is a strong man who is mentally disabled. He likes to pet mice and soft things and looks forward to his and George's plans of living "off the fatta the lan'." His behavior, though innocent, can get him in trouble.
Candy works as a swamper (janitor) because he lost his hand in an accident on the ranch. He loves his old dog. Eventually, he joins George and Lennie in their plans to "live off the fatta' the lan”.
The American Dream
Late Thursday afternoon
George and Lennie run away from Weed.
They find work 10 miles from Soledad.
They camp beside the river for the night, Where George tells Lennie, "Lennie—if you jus’ happen to get in trouble like you always done before, I want you to come right here an’ hide in the brush… Hide in the brush till I come for you."
Friday morning on the ranch
George and Lennie first come across Candy, who takes them in the bunk house. "The wooden latch raised.....Behind him came George, and Behind George, Lennie."(Pg. 19/20)
The Boss comes and explains the rules and their jobs.
Then Curley comes in and picks on Lennie because he hates big guy and Lennie is scared. Candy says, "Curley's like a lot of little guys....Kind of like he's mad at 'em because he ain't a big guy." (Pg. 28) Then George tells him to stay away from Curley.
Curley’s Wife walks in looking for Curley, and Candy gives advice to the guys about her, also George tells Lennie to stay away from her.
George and Lennie met Slim.
Carlson killed Candy’s Dog because it was old and useless."Well, you ain't bein' kind to him keepin' him alive."...."Carl's right, Candy. That dog ain't no good to himself. I wisht somebody'd shoot me if I got old an' a cripple." (Pg. 46)
Candy joins in with Lennie and George to buy piece of land, and he is going to contribute $350 at the end of the month.
After checking on Slim in the barn Curley comes into the bunk house and starts fight with Lennie, who grabs hold of Curley’s hand crushes it.
Saturday evening in Crook's room
George goes in to town with others.
Lennie goes to Crooks’ room. Crooks let Lennie in and told him about his life and how lonely he is. Then Crooks torture Lennie, by saying, “S’ pose George don’t come back no more. S’ pose he took a powder and just ain’t coming back. What’ll you do then?”..... Suddenly Lennie’s eyes centered and grew quiet and mad; (Pg.71).He got up marched towards Crooks. Crooks felt the danger and backed up against his bunk, trying to calm Lennie, he said, “I was just supposing’.” George ain’t hurt. He’s all right. He’ll be back all right.
Candy finds Lennie in Crooks’ room and with excitement he tells about how he had figured about buying their own land, and how they can make money.
Curley’s Wife looks for Curley at Crook’s room. Crooks tires to confront her, but she turned on him, “Listen, Nigger,”.... “You know what I can do?”....”Well, you keep your place then, Nigger. I could get you strung up on a tree so easy it ain’t even funny.” Crooks backed down; (Pg. 79/80).
All the guys other then Lennie are playing horse shoes.
Lennie had killed the puppy he got from Slim, and he tries to hide it in the barn.
Curley’s Wife comes wanting to talk to Lennie. She tells him about how her life could’ve been if she didn’t married with Curley. They are talking and she lets Lennie pet her hair, but he doesn’t let go she get scared and tries to scream but Lennie already had covered her in his arm while she struggles to free her from Lennie, who had accidently broken her neck.
Late Sunday afternoon
Candy looks for Lennie in the barn but Lennie had run away after the incident. “I didn’t know you was here,” he said to Curley’s wife. When she didn’t answer, he stepped nearer (Pg. 92). Then he realises that she is dead.
Candy went and got George because he suspected it was Lennie. They both go out of there and then Candy tells others about it, so that no one suspects George.
Curley knew who it was, he said “I know who done it,”... “That big son-of-a-bitch done it.” (Pg. 95). Curley was mad, he was going kill Lennie himself, “I’m gonna get him.....I’ll shoot ’im in the guts. Come on, you guys” (Pg. 95). So then they all go after Lennie.
George finds Lennie, where he had told him to go if he gets in any trouble. Lennie wants George to tell him about them and other guys and about the rabbits. Lennie said craftily “Tell me like you done before.” “Tell you what?” “ ’Bout the other guys an’ about us.”
George tells Lennie “Look acrost the river, Lennie an’ I’ll tell you so can almost see it. George takes out Carlson’s luger; while he tells Lennie about their dream he steadied the gun to the back of Lennie’s head. The he shoots him, “He pulled the trigger.” (Pg. 105)
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Loneliness: Curley's wife and Crooks both feel lonely on the ranch. Curley’s wife is the only woman on the ranch, and Crooks is the only African-American.
Racism: Crooks is not allowed in bunkhouse because he is African-American. He has his own room and is not allowed to speak to anyone until asked to.
Friendship: George and Lennie travel together everywhere. Even though Lennie gets them into trouble, they stay together until the end.
Responsibility: George takes care of Lennie. Lennie looks up to George as a parent in many situations; for example, when Curley picks on Lennie.
Trust: George trusts Slim with the story of what happened at Weed. Lennie trusts George completely, in all things.
Family: George and Lennie are like family to each other. George said, “Guys like us got no fambly......”, “An’ I got you. We got each other, that’s what, that gives a hoot in hell about us."
Curley is the boss's son. He is small and arrogant, and he's always ready to pick a fight. Curley feels insecure because of his fears that his wife might be unfaithful to him.
"The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft agley"
Translation: the best-laid plans of mice and men often go wrong