"Of Mice and Men" by John Steinbeck

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Title: Of Mice and Men

Author: John Steinbeck

Published: 1937


This story takes place in California, a few miles south of Soledad, which is a town in California. The book is about George and Lennie who are ranch workers. Lennie is a very large and strong, but gentle man with the mind of a child. Lennie works on ranches and travels with George, who looks after him.


George is Lennie’s friend and finds them work. He looks after Lennie and tries to keep him out of trouble. Both men dream of saving enough money to buy their own ranch one day.


The book started with George and Lennie on their way to a new ranch to seek jobs, so that they could make money. On the way, George had to tell Lennie how to act when they got there. He told him to stay quiet, and let George do the talking, and if he got in trouble, he ought to go back to the trees by the pool and wait for George to show up. George made Lennie repeat this to himself a couple of times to make sure he remembered it. 


When they got to the ranch early the next morning, they met an old man who took them to the bunkhouse. A couple of minutes later, the boss came in and gave them work. George and Lennie installed themselves and got known with the other workers on the ranch. The boss's son, Curley, seemed bad, and George told Lennie to stay away from him to avoid trouble. But Curley didn’t like large people and was always interested in showing how good he was with his fists. At the moment he saw George and Lennie, he went straight over to them and began to talk to them to get a reason to fight Lennie. Since George did all the talking, Curley didn’t get any reason to attack Lennie, but he said that the next time he wanted to talk to Lennie, he’d better answer himself. When Curley was gone, the old man, Candy, explained to George that Curley was after big men, and that he had been even worse in the last weeks, after he got married. George thought Curley would be trouble, and he was right.


Curley got angry with Lennie later in the book because he thought or maybe would think that Lennie laughed at him, while Lennie really just was smiling of the thought of a puppy he might would get from Slim.


Anyway, Curley went over to him, and ordered him to stand up and fight. Lennie rose and moved nervously backwards until he hit the wall. Curley had started hitting him in the face again and again. George, who also was clearly angry with Curley, cheered up Lennie, and told him to hit back, and not just take let Curley hit him. Curley kept on hitting Lennie in his face, stomach, and even in his eyes. Slim wanted to help Lennie, but George held him back and continued shouting at Lennie. Then Lennie couldn’t take anymore. He grabbed Curley’s fist before it hit him, and held it in his big hand. Curley started struggling helplessly, but Lennie wouldn’t let go of his closed fist. George ran over and told him to let go, but Lennie was so terrified now that he wouldn’t let go yet. Curley’s face became white and his struggling got weaker, then suddenly Lennie let go. Curley was just sitting there looking in amazement at his crushed hand. Slim and the others got him into a wagon and drove him to the doctor. Curley didn’t try Lennie more after that fight.


Later, Lennie was sitting in the barn with a dead puppy in his hands. Lennie had pushed his head a little bit to hard. He strokes it and hid it under some hay because he thought that George maybe would be mad at him if he noticed he had killed it. At that moment, Curley’s wife came into the barn. Lennie was frightened and covered the puppy with more hay. “What do you got there?” Curley’s wife asked him. Lennie ignored the question and said that George had said that he shouldn’t talk to her. She just continued talking and convinced Lennie that it wouldn’t hurt him to talk to her. Then she asked what Lennie liked so much about rabbits. Lennie answered that he loved to touch soft things, and to stroke them. Curley’s wife told him that she knew what he was talking about. She often strokes her hair herself when she sat in front of the mirror and brushed it, because she thought it was so nice. “Feel it here and see how soft it is”, she said.


Lennie’s big hand started stroking her hair. He didn’t stop and she tried to move her head away, but then he grabbed it. She started screaming, but Lennie was too stupid to understand that he had to let her hair go. He told her to be quiet, but she continued screaming and Lennie moved his other hand in front of her mouth to make her stop. But she didn’t stop, and then Lennie got angry with her. He shook her head and said that she had to stop yelling or George would be angry on him. He shook her head once more. Then her body suddenly jumped and she lay still. She was dead. When Lennie realised that she was dead, he covered her with hay and ran away to that place with the trees by the lake. Later, when the others found the body, Curley ordered everybody to find Lennie and shoot him. George knew where he was and went there with Carlson’s gun to shoot him himself. He had figured out that the best for himself and the others would be to finish Lennie now. If he didn’t, Curley would give him some kind of worse execution, and Lennie didn’t deserve that. George found Lennie sitting by the pool as he had thought. He sat down and talked a little bit to him before he pulled out the gun from his pocket and shot Lennie in the back of his head. And so ends the book. Slim led George to the road and away towards the road to Soledad.

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