Mice and Men by Jon Steinbeck

Essay by adanr262046 May 2004

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The novel, which takes place during the Great Depression, begins beside the Salinas River near Soledad, California, where two migrant workers, Lennie Small and George Milton, are walking on their way to a nearby ranch. They had recently escaped from a farm near Weed where Lennie, a mentally yet docile man, was wrongly accused of rape when he touched a woman to feel her soft dress. George is his physical opposite, a small man with good features. George scolds Lennie for playing with a dead mouse and warns him not to speak when they arrive at their new place of employment. When Lennie complains about not having ketchup for the beans they eat for dinner, George becomes angry, telling Lennie that he would be better off if he did not have to travel with his retarded friend. George soon starts to daydream. He and Lennie will raise enough money to buy a patch of land, where they will have a small farm with a vegetable patch and a rabbit hutch.

The rabbit hutch is the only detail of the plan that Lennie consistently remembers. George tells Lennie that, if he gets into trouble as he did in Weed, he should return to the brush near the river and wait for George to find him.

When George and Lennie reach the bunkhouse at the farm where they will work, an old man named Candy shows them their beds and tells them that the boss was angry that they did not show up the night before. George and Lennie were late because the bus driver who brought them near Soledad dropped them off several miles away from the ranch. The boss questions George and Lennie and finds them suspicious because George speaks for Lennie. He cannot understand why George would travel...