Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck: Summary | Major English Class 11



Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck: Summary | Major English Class 11
Neb English Support 

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck: Summary | Major English Class 11

Of Mice and Men Summary


Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

"Of Mice and Men" is one of John Steinbeck's most popular and important works. This novella was initially published in the year 1937. The novella has shown the devastating impact that the Great Depression had on many Americans' ability to achieve their dreams. John Ernst Steinbeck Jr. was born in Salinas, California, on February 27th, 1902. Steinbeck was in and out of his studies at Stanford University, but he never graduated during this time. Steinbeck worked as a bindlestiff along with many migrant workers. This experience was the primary influence on "Of Mice and Men" in 1930. He was married to Carol Henning, and they moved into a rent-free cottage belonging to the Steinbeck family in Pacific Grove, California. His first literary achievement came with the publication of "Tortilla Flats," a story about lawless countrymen and their devotion to friendship. After the breakthrough novel "Tortilla Flats," Steinbeck wanted to explore the place of the common labourer. He started working on "Of Mice and Men" in 1936. "Of Mice and Men" became an immediate success and continues to be read throughout the world to this day. Even so, it has proven to be controversial due to objections over its offensive language and sexual depictions. Starting in the 1950s, the novel was banned in various places in 1962. Steinbeck was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. He died in New York City on December 20th, 1968. "Of Mice and Men" is set in California during the Great Depression. During this time, fruit farms in the West employed many migrant workers. The jobs, however, offered extremely poor housing and harsh work conditions. In addition, the novel is set during the Dust Bowl.


Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

It was a tough world in California during the Great Depression. Men travel from as far south as Alabama to look for work on the ranches. The migrant workers stay on for as long as the job takes, and then they move on. Most of the men travel alone. It's a tough job, but at least the landscape is beautiful here. It has the deep green Salinas River and the majestic Gavilan Mountains. Rabbits gather on the shore of the river, listening intently to approaching footsteps.

When the novel begins, we're about to meet two workers who have walked across America together. These two men are opposites. George Milton is small and clever, while Lennie Small is big and strong. Lennie also has an intellectual impairment (disability). He understands very little about the world around him. So George takes care of him. Life isn't easy for George and Lennie. Lennie likes picking up dead mice and keeping them in his pockets to stroke because they're soft. Lennie is too fascinated by soft things. They were run out of town on their last job because Lennie scared a woman by stroking her soft dress. Lennie can't keep a job and often gets in trouble because he's misunderstood. It's a good thing that he has a caring friend like George. The friends have a dream that keeps them going: to own their own ranch one day. Lennie loves hearing about the rabbits that he will care for. George plans to have his own land and be his own boss.

No wonder they love talking about their imagined future. After walking for miles and sleeping rough, George and Lennie arrive at a ranch near the town of Soledad. They meet Candy, an elderly ranch worker who lost his hand in a machinery accident many years ago. Candy shows them their beds in the bunkhouse and tells them how the other men are unpleasant to Crooks, the stable buck. Actually, Crooks is African-American and has a crooked back; that's why other men try to bother him.

When the boss comes in to meet his new employees, George does all the talking. He doesn't want the boss to realise that Lennie has a disability. The boss is suspicious and wonders why George is so interested in getting Lennie a job. Around here, it's unusual to see someone care this much for another person. Once the boss leaves, Candy comes in with his beloved old dog. The poor dog is toothless and arthritic, but Candy loves that dog to the moon and back. Candy's followed by the boss's extremely offensive son, Curley. He's a short, angry man who picks fights with other men, especially if they're tall like Lenny.

After Curley leaves, his young wife enters the bunkhouse. She and Curley have only been married for a few weeks, and she's already lonely. Being the only woman on the ranch can't be easy. No wonder she's pleased whenever anyone pays attention to her. Lennie thinks she's pretty, but George warns Lennie that he'd better avoid Curley and his wife.

Slim, a senior man on the ranch, comes in to meet George and Lennie. Slim chats with another worker named Carlson about the puppies that Slim's dog has just had. Of course, Lennie gets his heart set on having one. Meanwhile, Carlson thinks that Candy should just shoot his old dog and get a puppy instead. Never mind that Candy loves his dog. That evening, we saw that Lennie had acquired a puppy from Slim. When George thanks him, Slim gets curious about why George and Lennie travel together. George explains that he knew Lennie's aunt, Clara, who raised Lennie. George took Lennie under his wing after she died.

He also tells Slim about what happened at their last job. They fled town because Lennie was wrongly accused of rape. He'd frightened a woman by touching the fabric of her slim dress. He can't help but touch soft things. Slim agrees with George that Lennie is a good person. Lennie comes in with his new puppy. He loves his dog, but he's a danger to the animal. He is not aware of his acts due to his disability.

Meanwhile, Carlson has offered to shoot Candy's smelly old dog. No one defends Candy or the dog, so Carlson takes his pistol and leads the dog out. Meanwhile, Candy lays paralysed and heartbroken on his bed. He can't show the men how devastated he is.

The men are quiet until a shot rings out into the evening. A ranch labourer named Whit is chatting with George. When Crooks comes in, he warns them that Lennie might harm the pups by petting them. When the men go to sort Lennie out, Whit talks about visiting prostitutes in town.

He doesn't think highly of women, particularly Curley's wife. Women really are outsiders on the ranch. Once Lennie comes back from the pups, he wants George to tell him about their dream. He's never tired of listening. George talks about keeping animals and owning a vegetable garden.

Candy wants to get in on this. He has a bit of money saved up. Maybe he could help them. Curley storms in again, bringing trouble with him. He's worried that one of the other men has been playing around with his wife.

Lennie doesn't know what's going on and grins innocently at Curley. This enrages Curley, and he viciously attacks Lennie. Lennie doesn't fight back because George told him not to. Curley lays into poor Lennie. Then George orders Lennie to fight back. Lennie's scared, but he's a strong man. He gripped Curley's hand for a long time, crushing all the bones.

When the men take Curley to see a doctor, the scene shifts. We're in the stables where Crook sleeps. He's clearly an intelligent man. He reads a dictionary and a legal book in his spare time. It's now Saturday night, and Crooks, Lennie, and Candy are left on the ranch alone. The other men are having a big night out.

Lennie wanders into the stable room to see the puppies. Crooks values his privacy and isn't pleased to see Lennie. But Lennie isn't like the other white men who exclude Crooks.

Lennie has an innocence about him. Crooks tells Lennie about his childhood, and Lennie tells him about his dream of tending to rabbits on a ranch.

Candy joins Crooks and Lennie to talk about the dream. There's a moment where Crooks even suggests that maybe he could leave the ranch with them.

They're interrupted by Curley's wife. As usual, she's feeling lonely and just wants to talk to someone, but Candy and Crooks both tell her to go away.

She gets fed up and threatens to get Crooks into trouble. He's probably the only person on the ranch who's treated worse than her. We will next see Lennie on Sunday afternoon, cradling his puppy sadly. The puppy is dead. Lennie is confused and upset. He doesn't fully understand that he's killed the puppy by over-patting it. It's a sad ending for the puppy and heartbreaking for Lennie.

He worries that George won't let him take care of the rabbits in the future. Once he knows that he's accidentally killed his own puppy, when Curley's wife comes into the barn again, he starts talking to her. She's friendly to Lennie, so he tells her about the dream of the rabbits. He loves those rabbits.

Curley's wife can relate; she likes to have her soft hair stroked. She even invites Lennie to feel her hair. Just like with the puppy, Lennie doesn't know when to stop. He keeps on stroking Curley's wife's hair until she gets alarmed and wants him to let go. They struggle, and she screams. Lennie panics and shakes her. He just wants her to stop yelling. Suddenly, her body flops like a fish. Lennie has accidentally broken her neck. Lennie is terrified, so he leaves the body of Curley's wife among the hay. Looking very pretty and simple, he tucks the dead puppy under his coat and runs away. Candy finds Curley's wife and tells George. George despairs. All he hopes for now is that his friend Lennie won't get hurt. Candy knows that Curley will make sure Lennie dies for this.

When the other men burst into the room, Curley was outraged and vowed to seek revenge. Carlson also realises that his gun has been stolen. George hopes that they can find Lennie and hand him over to be locked up. He's still hoping that justice will be done.

Curley waits to shoot Lennie. George reminds Curley that Lennie wouldn't have known what he was doing.

Curley doesn't care about Lennie's disability. There's murder in Curley's eyes. Next, the scene moves away from the ranch to the beautiful Salinas River. The hills are rosy in the sun, and there's a soft breeze.

Lennie is out there, waiting for George. He's lost in his thoughts. He imagines his aunt Clara is in front of him, telling him off for being a nuisance to George. A rabbit hops near Lennie. Lennie imagines that the rabbit is angry at him too.

When George finds Lennie, George is calm and gentle. He tells Lennie his favourite story.

The story of their dream. He also tells Lennie to take off his hat and look over the river. George can't let the other men hurt Lennie. But there's only one way he can protect him. George stole Carlson's gun. He knows what he must do now as the other men get closer. George keeps soothing Lennie with his words. He lifts the gun and pulls the trigger. Lennie's body slumps forward onto the sand, and he lies there without quivering. George doesn't say much. He doesn't correct Carlson when he suggests that Lennie must have been on the loose with his gun. Slim leads George away for a drink and tells him that the deed had to be done.

What are we to make of all this? Why didn't George and Lenny try to escape? Is Lennie's death really a compassionate one? Perhaps Steinbeck wanted to show us how people survive in a cruel world, but has the world become a kinder place in the 21st century, or is true friendship still hard to come by?

You certainly don't need to shoot your best friend to prove you love them. Maybe just hug them instead.






Thanks for Visiting my Website: Suraj Bhatt

Post a Comment

Post a Comment (0)

Previous Post Next Post
DMCA.com Protection Status