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  1. 1. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck A GCSE English Workbook by Steven Croft ~ Wessex Publications ~
  2. 2. About the Author of this Workbook Steve Croft is a lecturer and Programme Leader for English in a Tertiary College in Yorkshire and is committed to flexible forms of learning. He is a Senior AEB Examiner for A level English and also an Examiner for the International Baccalaureate. Other workbooks in this series include: A level GCSE The Miller's Tale I'm the King of the Castle The Franklin's Tale The Lord of the Flies The Wife of Bath's Tale and Prologue War Poetry Great Expectations Macbeth Much Ado About Nothing An Inspector Calls The Poems of John Donne To Kill a Mockingbird Jane Eyre Of Mice and Men Hamlet Romeo and Juliet Mansfield Park The Handmaid's Tale Measure for Measure Gulliver's Travels Edward II The Merchant's Tale All materials available from: Dubliners A Dolls House Poetry of Edward Thomas Wessex Publications Poetry of Seamus Heaney Elwell House King Lear Stocklinch Return of the Native Ilminster A Passage to India Mean Time Somerset TA19 9JF The Rivals Tel/Fax: 01460 55660 Hard Times English Language Topics or by using English Critical Appreciation Communications - Semiotics and the Media Tess of the d’Urbevilles Murmuring Judges Othello The Whitsun Weddings The Glass Menagerie The Pardoner’s Prologue andTale Captain Corelli’s Mandolin The Country Wife Dead Sea Poems A Streetcar Named Desire Dr Faustus Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience The Duchess of Malfi The Prologue to The Canterbury Tales Volpone Christina Rossetti’s Verse Three Victorian Poets Selected Poems by John Keats Enduring Love Snow Falling on Cedars COPYRIGHT NOTICE The contents of this publication remain the copyright property of the publishers. They may be copied only within the purchasing institution. Any copying beyond these limits is illegal. ©Wessex Publications 2002
  3. 3. Teacher Guide Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck About the Workbook The material in this package is fully photocopiable for use within the purchasing institution. In addition, you will, of course, need a copy of Of Mice and Men. Using the Materials We recommend that students read the novel at least once through first on their own or as a group in order to get a sound grasp of the text and the characters. The Workbook examines the novel and presents the student with ideas, questions, and activities to help her/him develop her/his own understanding and interpretation of it. Sections are also included on Steinbeck himself; Themes; Characters; Language, Structure and Style; Imagery. Revision questions to help students prepare for the examinations are also included. It will be necessary to photocopy the Workbook for each student. You could give each student a guide to keep, but we suggest that you spiral bind or staple them and retain them for future use. The answer boxes may, of course, be used but you will probably prefer students to answer in their notebooks for reasons of cost. However, the size of each box will enable students to gauge how much to write and will make it easier to discuss answers with individuals and groups. The Workbook is written and presented in a similar way to Open University/Open College materials and is intended to be interactive and student-centred. The package is far more than a revision aid or potted guide. Its purpose is both to support the student and enable her/him to work at her/his own pace. The Study Workbook is written for the student. It can be used in a variety of ways including: • alongside classwork and group work led by the lecturer/teacher/tutor • individual supported-self study (flexible learning) work in class
  4. 4. • individual work carried out at home • paired or small group work • revision work. Using the CD version of the Workbook The CD provides you with three versions of the workbook: • the complete workbook with questions, answer boxes and author's responses • the workbook with tasks and answer boxes only • the author's responses only. Each of the above may be loaded onto your school/college Intranet or printed off separately. This will give you complete flexibility to use the materials as you see fit. The Lecturer’s/Teacher’s Role The pack is not intended as a substitute for the teacher/lecturer. In our view it is essential that she/he supports the student throughout by providing: • an introduction to Steinbeck's work • explanation when needed • guidance and support individually and within small groups • regular checks of the student’s work. Note All quotations from the novel itself are shown with speech marks. Tasks are written using New Times Roman font, and the author's suggested comments / answers / responses to them are given in a different font (Arial) to enable students to pick them out more easily.
  5. 5. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck A GCSE English Workbook by Steven Croft ~ Wessex Publications ~
  6. 6. CONTENTS 1. Using the workbook page 1 2. John Steinbeck - background page 2 3. Section by section analysis – Section 1 page 4 4. Section by section analysis – Section 2 page 17 5. Section by section analysis – Section 3 page 27 6. Section by section analysis – Section 4 page 42 7. Section by section analysis – Section 5 page 52 8. Section by section analysis – Section 6 page 60 9. Themes page 67 10. Characters page 75 11. Language, Structure and Style page 79 12. Imagery page 81 13. Structure of the Story page 82 14. Specimen Questions page 83
  7. 7. Of Mice and Men Using the workbook 1. USING THE WORKBOOK The workbook examines various aspects of the novel Of Mice and Men and you will be asked to complete tasks on each of these areas as you progress through the different sections. All the tasks are designed to help you look carefully at the play and to come to an appreciation of its meaning and significance as a piece of literature. In addition to work in the workbook itself it is advisable to keep your own, fuller notes, in a notebook or ring binder. These will be an important revision aid if you are going to answer on this text in an examination. Some of the tasks require quite short answers and where this is the case a box is provided in the workbook where you can write down your responses if you wish. Some questions may require a fuller response and it would be best if you wrote your comments or answers in your own notebook or file. At the end of the workbook you will find a number of specimen essay questions of the kind that you might find set for GCSE English. These titles and questions would also be suitable for coursework assignments on this text. If you are going to answer on this text in an examination it would be very useful to you to practise writing answers to several of these and have some idea of how you would tackle any of them. Good luck and happy studying. ****** -1-
  8. 8. Of Mice and Men John Steinbeck - Background 2. JOHN STEINBECK 1902 - 1969 A good deal of what happens in ‘Of Mice and Born Salinas 1902 Men’ is based upon experiences that Steinbeck actually had in his life. He was born in 1902 in Salinas in California and graduated from Salinas High School in 1919. He went on to Stamford to study English but he left there without getting a degree. In the years that followed he moved Contemporary around a good deal and had many casual jobs issues form basis varying from working on a newspaper to work as for much of Steinbeck's work a travelling ranch-hand, moving along as the work presented itself. He also wrote at this time and did have some local success as a writer before writing ‘Of Mice and Men’ which quickly became a world-wide success and brought him international recognition. The publication of this novel was followed in the same year, 1937, by a stage play which won an award for the best New York play. The subject matter which Steinbeck dealt with in ‘Of Mice and Men’ would have come as no surprise to those who were already familiar with his writing because he had already become known as a writer interested in contemporary issues and not least those affecting the agricultural labourers of California. In the novel, Steinbeck draws attention to a social problem which had developed to immense proportions and of which he had experience at first hand. Climate change in the rest of America between 1888-1930 had resulted in the destruction through droughts of large tracts of fertile land which had been farmed and had supported the early settlers and homesteaders. These were the settlers who had established the The creation of the American innumerable small farms one of which George and Lenny and some of 'Dust Bowl' the other characters dream of owning. However, the drought, coupled with over-farming had turned this once productive farmland into immense barren tracts of land which became known as the ‘dust bowl’. The great financial collapse of 1929 which The Great marked the start of the depression increased Depression 1929 unemployment and poverty drastically throughout the United States. Industrial workers and white-collar workers suffered heavily but for those people who tried to scratch a living from their small farms, the situation was disastrous. Politicians eventually acted and Franklin D Roosevelt’s New Deal Economics did much to help ease the situation but in 1937 the problem was a long way from being solved and it would not fully be resolved until America entered the Second World War in 1941. -2-
  9. 9. Of Mice and Men John Steinbeck - Background As a result of this great depression itinerant workers replaced the traditional immigrant Mexican labour in the south western states of the US such as California. These workers were exploited greatly by farm owners who made use of them as low-paid labour and many had to work in terrible conditions. The workforce was only needed for short periods at a time and so the itinerant labourers had to save enough from seasonal work such as harvesting crops to support them through the rest of the year when work would be extremely difficult to come by. Because of their travelling and solitary lifestyle and their lack of a base or somewhere to put down their roots, little could be done to help organise things that could improve their welfare through bodies such as trade union membership. Steinbeck had seen this problem at first hand and 'The Grapes of was very concerned with it and dealt with this same issue in his novel Wrath' published ‘In Dubious Battle’ and his most successful book, ‘The Grapes of 1940 Wrath’ which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1940. One of the key features of Steinbeck’s novels of this period are their gritty realistic element but also the political stand that is contained within them. For example, ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ which is generally Given Nobel Prize acknowledged to be Steinbeck’s masterpiece strongly supports for Literature, Roosevelt’s state interference to reduce unemployment. Steinbeck 1962 received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962 specifically for his pre- war novels. He died in 1969 as America’s most distinguished novelist. Dies, 1969 ****** -3-
  10. 10. Of Mice and Men Section by section analysis - Section 1 3. SECTION BY SECTION ANALYSIS - SECTION 1 Before we start the detailed analysis you should be aware that the opening descriptions which are given at the beginning of each section are a particular feature of this novel and so it is important that you see them as more than simply background. These descriptions help to create a tone and sense of optimism throughout the novel. Look carefully at the opening of the novel. What kind of world is TASK 1 described here? The story opens with a description of the countryside close to the Salinas river near Soledad in California. All the events of the novel take place at or nearby this spot. In this opening description, Steinbeck creates a sense of hope and of freshness through the suggestion of a peaceful world of nature. It is springtime with trees bearing new leaves and the wildlife running free. This is an optimistic picture which suggests cycles of nature go on and on and constantly return no matter what. There is also, here, a sense of the harmony of nature unspoilt by human interference. TASK 2 Unspoiled that is until what? -4-
  11. 11. Of Mice and Men Section by section analysis - Section 1 Until the dogs belonging to the nearby ranchers are mentioned and we hear the sound of footsteps growing louder and the animals speed to safety. TASK 3 What effect does this have on the atmosphere created at the beginning? There is a sense in which the harmony of the earlier description is disturbed now by a sense of discord. It is quickly established that humans inhabit the area. The river is mentioned once more and we are told that a path has been beaten nearby and that it is a well-used path. It is used by boys coming down from the ranches to bath in the deep pool and by tramps coming down from the highway to camp for the night by the river. TASK 4 How does Steinbeck make sure that we know that many people come this way and visit the deep pool under the Sycamore tree? -5-
  12. 12. Of Mice and Men Section by section analysis - Section 1 The details of the ashes left over from many camp fires and the tree bough worn smooth by so many people sitting on it over the years emphasise the number of people who come to this spot. TASK 5 Evening is beginning to fall as the men walk along the path. How are they dressed and what does this tell you? They are dressed in denim and this tells us that they are ranch- hands; denim being the customary clothing of ranch-hands. They also carry sleeping blankets, which tells us they are next in a long line of itinerant workers or passers-by. The similarity between them ends with the description of their clothes and bedding. Steinbeck gives us now a description of each of them, which shows much contrast, these two characters are George and Lennie. TASK 6 Write brief notes describing each of them. -6-
  13. 13. Of Mice and Men Section by section analysis - Section 1 GEORGE LENNIE -7-
  14. 14. Of Mice and Men Section by section analysis - Section 1 The contrast between them in size, appearance and manner is sharply drawn: George • The immediate impression of intelligence • Reminiscent of a quick-witted animal • Restless • George is the leader of the pair and is clearly in charge • Has endured a good deal of physical hardship • George washes in the pool in traditional cowboy style Lennie • Is described as a bear • This establishes his essential nature – combination of brute strength and animal-like innocence • Appropriate from harmless appearance ie. ‘teddy bear’ but also his strength as in ‘bear hug’ • Lennie’s way of drinking from the pool shows an animal temperament in thinking and is emphasised when he is compared to a horse • Like an animal, always tries to satisfy his immediate needs It is clear that Lennie seems unable to see the possible consequences of his actions and George reminds him that it was only the previous night that he was sick. This highlights one of Lennie’s most important and dangerous failings – his inability to learn from past experience. George’s ‘ticking-off’ establishes his role as Lennie’s mentor, certainly the one who looks after him and protects him from himself. TASK 7 What else takes place, here, between them to demonstrate that Lennie is dependent on George and that he trusts him and admires him? -8-
  15. 15. Of Mice and Men Section by section analysis - Section 1 Lennie does not see possible danger and George tells him not to gulp water from the stream because it will make him ill. Lennie's behaviour and responses show that he trusts George and looks up to him. TASK 8 In what ways do you think that Lennie and George suit each other? Well, they could be said to suit each other because of their complementary characters. Although they are both dressed in the same way they are very different in temperament. Lennie is slow and clumsy and is lax and easy-going whereas George is quick, precise, apprehensive and cautious. Notice that it is Lennie who always seems to suffer because of his reckless behaviour. We learn some other things about the relationship between George and Lennie too. George has been irritated and he complains that the bus driver was too lazy to take them all the way to the ranch they were heading for. The fact that the bus driver feels that he can treat them in this way shows the lowly status that he and Lennie occupy. TASK 9 Why does his irritation increase? Continues on next page -9-
  16. 16. Of Mice and Men Section by section analysis - Section 1 He becomes even more irritated when he finds out that Lennie has forgotten where they are going. The only thing that Lennie does seem to remember are the rabbits that are mentioned here for the first time although no further information is given about them for the moment. George does understand, though, the limits of Lennie’s capability even though he does get irritated with him from time to time and this shows, when he reassures Lennie, that he has taken responsibility for the work card that Lennie thinks he has lost. George then notices that Lennie is hiding something and he tells Lennie to let him see it. In the end he has to prise open Lennie’s hand and a dead mouse is revealed. Lennie wants George to let him keep the dead mouse saying: ‘I could pet it with my thumb while we walked along.’ TASK 10 What further does this reveal about Lennie’s character? - 10 -
  17. 17. Of Mice and Men Section by section analysis - Section 1 It reveals his child-like innocence – he thinks that it is okay to be petting a dead mouse with his thumb but it also says something about his need for some sort of physical contact – an important aspect of Lennie’s character that has major repercussions at the end of the book. As the story progresses, it is worth noticing how Lennie’s petting of other creatures progresses from a dead mouse to the hope for rabbits, to a puppy and finally to Curly’s wife. George has to shout before Lennie will hand over the mouse and this demonstrates the fact that George sometimes needs to be forceful in order to control Lennie and he reprimands him for his child-like behaviour. TASK 11 What ominous note creeps into the narrative at this point? It is revealed that there has been some past trouble with ‘girls’ and we find that the two of them have recently been driven from their previous jobs as Lennie had done bad things. When thinking about the incident, the fact that Lennie giggled at the thought of it makes it sound less serious than it really was but in actual fact it had been very serious indeed. TASK 12 What does George dream about? - 11 -
  18. 18. Of Mice and Men Section by section analysis - Section 1 He dreams that without the burden of Lennie his life would be so much better. He could maybe meet a girl. George’s future would become much more rosy. Why do you think that George stays with Lennie if he thinks life could be better without him. Perhaps, when it comes down to it, George is afraid of being alone, perhaps he likes Lennie’s company in preference to real company at all, perhaps he feels when he is not irritated with Lennie some kind of obligation to look after him because he is clearly not able to look after himself. TASK 13 What tensions are revealed in the relationship? As George settles down to relax we see clearly that Lennie gets on his nerves. We have seen how George blames Lennie for making his life difficult and at the root of George’s irritation seems to be the kind of burden of responsibility that he has for Lennie. As they prepare for dinner, George is annoyed once more to find that Lennie has retrieved the dead mouse instead of collecting firewood. This time George explains as if to a young child that dead mice do not make good pets. He also reveals that this is not the first mouse that Lennie has adopted. Unfortunately and again a kind a note of foreboding for events that happen later, we also learn that he always manages to kill his pet mice accidentally because he is unaware of just how strong he actually is. Lennie, not realising that George is in no mood to talk about the rabbits, mentions them again and George feels more and more irritation building up within him until he finally bursts with frustration when Lennie tells him for a second time that he likes Ketchup with his beans – obviously a luxury that they do not have. - 12 -
  19. 19. Of Mice and Men Section by section analysis - Section 1 TASK 14 What further does George reveal about Lennie, here? We are given further information about how Lennie had earlier innocently clutched the dress of a young girl, trying to pet her, like a mouse. Of course the girl, not surprisingly, became distressed and that it was this incident that caused them to be hounded from their job. TASK 15 What does Lennie suggest? He realises that George is subdued and fed up with him and so he discusses the possibilities of parting company and talks about his own needs and desires telling George that, if he was on his own, he would be able to keep mice. TASK 16 How does George respond to this suggestion? Continues on next page - 13 -
  20. 20. Of Mice and Men Section by section analysis - Section 1 This seems to trigger a kind of remorse in George who obviously thinks he has been mean to Lennie. He promises him a puppy to make amends. For a brief moment Lennie becomes a more equal partner in the relationship. He also uses George’s remorseful mood in order to persuade him to tell a story that he has heard lots of times before – the story of the lives that they wish they had. It is the story about rabbits, one that Lennie has heard many times before but he pleads with George to tell it him once again. George agrees saying that afterwards they will eat their supper. He tells Lennie that: ‘guys like us that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world. They have got no family. They don’t belong no place.’ George goes on though to say that he and Lennie are not completely like that because they have a future, and they have got each other. Lennie takes this in and says they’re not like that because ‘I got you to look after me, and you got me to look after you.’ TASK 17 What does George go on to tell Lennie? - 14 -
  21. 21. Of Mice and Men Section by section analysis - Section 1 He goes on to tell him that one day they are going to have a house and they are going to keep cattle and some pigs and they are going to live off the fat of the land and they are going to keep rabbits which and it will be Lennie’s job to look after them. The whole existence that George describes is an idyllic one and just hearing of it gives Lennie much pleasure and comfort. The two now sit by the fire and eat beans from the can. As he is eating, Lennie shows signs of remembering something and tells George that he won’t say a word. George praises him for remembering this and as a reward says that if he can remember as good as that he will let him tend the rabbits when he gets them. TASK 18 What does George tell him then? George tells him to look around at the place that they are in and remember it, it is only about a quarter of a mile away from the ranch and all he needs to do is follow the river. He makes him promise that if he gets into trouble like he always has done before, George wants him to come and hide in the brush of that place and George will come and find him. TASK 19 What effect does this have on the narrative? - 15 -
  22. 22. Of Mice and Men Section by section analysis - Section 1 It gives the reader a feeling that Lennie is inevitably going to get into trouble and creates a kind of anticipation that this will happen. They make up their beds and prepare to sleep there for the night but before sleeping Lennie talks some more about the rabbits and how he would like to have different coloured ones. ****** - 16 -
  23. 23. Of Mice and Men Section by section analysis - Section 2 4. SECTION BY SECTION ANALYSIS - SECTION 2 TASK 20 George and Lennie arrive at the ranch and the bunkhouse is described. What kind of building was it? It is described as a long, rectangular building and inside the walls are whitewashed and the floor is unpainted. In three of the walls there were small, square windows and in the fourth a solid wooden door. There were eight bunks in the bunkhouse and five of them were made up with blankets. Over each bunk there was nailed an apple-box which served as two shelves for the personal belongings of the occupants of the bunk. Near one wall there was a black, cast-iron stove, its stove-pipe going straight up through the ceiling and in the middle of the room there was a large, square table littered with playing cards and around it boxes to those playing cards to sit on. When Lennie and George arrive it is about 10 o’clock the following morning; a sunny morning. The door opens and a tall, old man comes in followed by George and then Lennie. TASK 21 What does the old man say to them and what effect does this have? - 17 -
  24. 24. Of Mice and Men Section by section analysis - Section 2 His opening remark: ‘the boss was expecting you last night’ establishes the character of the boss before we actually meet him. It also introduces a slight note of unease because the welcome does not seem particularly friendly. It is as if George and Lennie have got off on the wrong foot right from the start. The fact that the boss’s annoyance at Lennie and George’s late appearance is mentioned again reinforces the feeling of apprehension. The old man responsible for cleaning the bunkhouse isn’t named at this stage but we later find that he is called old Candy. Lennie and George set about making their beds. Just as Lennie was finishing making his bed, the door opened again. A little, stocky man stood in the doorway. He was wearing blue-jean trousers, a flannel shirt, a black, unbuttoned vest and a black coat. He was wearing an old, brown Stetson hat and high-heeled boots and spurs. TASK 22 What is the significance of these? - 18 -
  25. 25. Of Mice and Men Section by section analysis - Section 2 From his boots and spurs it is clear that he is not one of the labourers and we quickly learn that he is in fact the boss. TASK 23 The boss then starts to ask questions of George and Lennie. What is the effect of the boss’s questioning? At first, George is speaking for Lennie and Lennie remembers that he must keep quiet. However, all too quickly, Lennie forgets when he is put under pressure by the boss to speak for himself. One reason the boss does this is that he suspects that George is exploiting Lennie, perhaps taking his pay. Further probing questions and the lingering stare of suspicion that the boss gives to the pair provides a further cloud to their arrival at the ranch. TASK 24 How does George account for the fact that he tries to speak for Lennie? He tells the boss that Lennie is his cousin and that he promised his mother that he would take care of him. He explains that, as a child, he had been kicked in the head and so he is not as bright as ordinary people but, nevertheless, he is a good worker and will do anything that is asked of him. - 19 -
  26. 26. Of Mice and Men Section by section analysis - Section 2 TASK 25 Does the boss believe this? It seems that he needs good workers but he doesn’t appear convinced by George’s story and tells him that he has got his eye on him. He also questions them as to why they quit their job in Weed. Although the boss seems to accept them, it is clear that he has still got his suspicions and he warns them not to try anything. George knows that after the boss has left that he has not been convinced by their story and he knows that they have got to be careful and not put a foot out of place because the boss will be watching them. Candy comes back into the bunkhouse, this time with his old sheepdog. The dog is blind and struggles lamely to the side of the room to lie down, grunting softly. Candy tells them that he wasn’t listening but George insists that he has been listening to their private conversation with the boss. The old man is uneasy and stresses that he is not interested in anything they were saying and that, on a ranch, you never listen and you never ask questions. They begin to discuss the boss but at that moment a young man enters the bunkhouse. He is thin with a brown face, brown eyes and a head of tightly curled hair. He has a work-glove on his left hand and, like the boss, he wears high- heeled boots. He is the boss’s son and he asks if anyone has seen his father. - 20 -
  27. 27. Of Mice and Men Section by section analysis - Section 2 TASK 26 What is your impression of Curley’s behaviour? He adopts the stance of a boxer and his behaviour seems aggressive and bullying. Like his father, he tries to force Lennie to speak for himself. TASK 27 After he has left, what does old Candy have to say about him? Candy explains how Curley fancies himself as a boxer and he says that he is pretty handy. He also tells him that Curley is like a lot of little guys, he doesn’t like big guys and he is always picking fights with people that are bigger than him. It is as if he is mad at them because he isn’t big too. He also tells them that Curley’s behaviour has been worse since being married recently. His wife is already trying to flirt with some of the workers, Slim and Carlson. Candy leaves the bunkhouse and George plays cards on his own. What TASK 28 does he say to Lennie? - 21 -
  28. 28. Of Mice and Men Section by section analysis - Section 2 He expresses his dislike of Curley to Lennie and he also tells him that he is afraid for what might happen between Lennie and Curley. He knows that Curley is the type to pick a fight with Lennie because Lennie is so big and he is afraid that it is only a matter of time before this happens. He impresses on Lennie the importance of keeping clear of Curley and he reminds him that, if trouble does occur, he is to return to the place where they had camped the previous evening. From what we already know, though, of Lennie we are aware that if anybody picks a fight with him he will probable have little power to alter the situation and he is likely to cause real damage to Curley. At that point there is a screech of brakes outside and a woman’s voice TASK 29 calling for ‘Stable Buck’. A girl is standing in the doorway. What do you notice about the description of her? We are told that she had full, rouged lips and wide-spaced eyes which were heavily made up. He fingernails were painted red and - 22 -
  29. 29. Of Mice and Men Section by section analysis - Section 2 her hair rung in little, roll clusters. She wore a cotton dress and red mules with little bouquets of ostrich feathers attached to them. TASK 30 What is effect of this description? Her appearance seems to bear out Candy’s description of her as a tart and Steinbeck clearly presents her as one here. Notice that he makes no mention of her features and even her ringlets of hair are referred to unflatteringly as resembling sausages. She, unconvincingly, says that she is looking for her husband as she thrusts herself forward, invitingly. TASK 31 How does Lennie react to her presence? - 23 -
  30. 30. Of Mice and Men Section by section analysis - Section 2 Lennie is clearly fascinated by her and his eyes move down over her body. He watches her, fascinated. George tells her that if he sees her husband he will tell him that she was looking for him. As she turns she sees Slim and as he approaches she greets him in what is obviously a flirtatious manner saying: ‘Hi! Good looking’. She tells Slim that she is looking for Curley but he tells her that she is not looking very hard because he has just seen him going into their house. Suddenly she becomes apprehensive and says goodbye, hurrying away. TASK 32 What is George’s reaction after she has left? He responds by saying: ‘Jesus, what a tramp. So that’s what Curley picks for a wife.’ It is obvious, though, from Lennie’s response that he thinks that she’s ‘purty’. It is clear that George has instantly recognised the trouble that there might be if Lennie so much as even speaks to Curley’s wife and he gets angry with Lennie, warning him to keep away from her. TASK 33 Suddenly Lennie says: ‘I don’t like this place George. I wanna get out of here.’ What is the effect of Lennie suddenly saying this? - 24 -
  31. 31. Of Mice and Men Section by section analysis - Section 2 It seems that Lennie has picked up on the atmosphere and that his words create foreboding for the future. The irony is here though that George keeps them there and explains that they have got to stay there until they have earned some money. TASK 34 George goes back to his game of cards and two other ranch-hands come back to the bunkhouse. The first one is Slim. How does Steinbeck describe this character? He describes his: ‘hatchet face’ as being ageless. He could have been anything between thirty-five and fifty. His speech is slow and his hands large and lean. He is what is called a ‘jerkline skinner’, and had the very responsible of driving a large team of mules. The atmosphere in the bunkhouse becomes more relaxed as George and Slim become acquainted. Carlson then enters. He is a powerful, big-stomached man and he too seems accepting rather than antagonistic towards George and Lennie. TASK 35 What do the men talk about? - 25 -
  32. 32. Of Mice and Men Section by section analysis - Section 2 They discuss Slim’s dog which has had new puppies. Candy is mentioned, (this is the first time his name is used), and Carlson suggests that the old man’s dog should be put down and Slim could give him one of the puppies instead. Lennie is quick to pick up on this through his liking for animals and George doesn’t need telling that Lennie wants a puppy too. George knows this and promises to ask for him. The triangle rings signalling that the meal is ready for the men and Slim and Carlson go out. George and Lennie are just about to leave when Curley comes rushing in wanting to know if they have seen his wife. George tells him that they saw her half an hour ago. TASK 36 What sort of attitude does Curley have? He is really quite aggressive and unpleasant in manner and it is significant that he eyes Lennie up as if seeing him for the first time. He seems to be mentally noting his size. As he goes, George says that he fears that he going to actually tangle with him himself as he has immediately taken a dislike to the man. Either way, there is an ominous note that there will be trouble for Lennie and George from that quarter in the future. ****** - 26 -
  33. 33. Of Mice and Men Section by section analysis - Section 3 5. SECTION BY SECTION ANALYSIS - SECTION 3 TASK 37 The section opens inside the bunkhouse. How does Steinbeck describe the surroundings? We are told that although the evening is bright outside, inside the bunkhouse it is dark and that from outside we can hear the thuds and clangs of a horseshoe game and voices sometimes raised. Slim and George enter the bunkhouse together and Slim reaches over the card table and turns on an electric light. TASK 38 The two men talk together. What do the men talk about? Slim acknowledges that Lennie is very strong and a good worker and George thanks Slim for giving Lennie a puppy from which he has become inseparable. George begins to open up to Slim - 27 -
  34. 34. Of Mice and Men Section by section analysis - Section 3 about his relationship with Lennie and his fondness for his fried shows through in the way that he speaks of the two of them as companions rather than one being dependent on the other. TASK 39 What does this tell you about who is dependent on whom? It suggests that while Lennie is very obviously dependent on George for many things, in a sense the dependency works both ways and that George too gets something from the relationship and that in one way he is dependent on Lennie as a companion. George is obviously pleased to be able to talk to someone, through, about his difficulties with Lennie and he tells Slim the story of how Lennie very nearly drowned. So great was Lennie’s loyalty to George that he did what he was told and jumped in the river but he couldn’t swim. George then goes back to his solo card game. A symbol, perhaps, of that part of him which wants to be alone. Perhaps foreshadowing the time in the future when he really will be alone. TASK 40 What else does George confide in Slim? He tells him of the incident in Weed?. - 28 -
  35. 35. Of Mice and Men Section by section analysis - Section 3 TASK 41 What had happened here? It seems that, in Weed? Lennie had seen a girl in a red dress. George says that he wants to touch everything he likes and so he reached out to feel the red dress and the girl screamed and Lennie got all confused. He held onto the dress because that was the only thing he could think to do and the girl screamed and screamed more. George heard the screaming, came running, and by the time he got there, Lennie was so scared that he was just holding onto the girl so hard George had to hit him over the head with a fence post to make him let go. He was so scared he wouldn’t let go of the dress and he was so strong that George couldn’t get him off. It seems that the girl told the law that she had been raped and so a group of men in Weed formed a party to go out and lynch Lennie. George and Lennie had to hide in a ditch under water for the rest of the day and then at night they got away. TASK 42 What does Slim want to know? - 29 -
  36. 36. Of Mice and Men Section by section analysis - Section 3 He asks George whether he had hurt the girl but George tells him, no, he had just scared her, he just wanted to touch the dress just like he wanted to pet the pups all the time. Slim confirms that Lennie isn’t a ‘mean guy’, Slim says that he can tell a mean guy a mile off. At that point, Lennie comes in through the door. Immediately Lennie goes straight to his bunk and lays down facing the wall with his knees drawn up. However, George knows what he is up to. Lennie has taken one of the pups and has brought it in and concealed it. George tells him that he must take it back straight away, the pup will die being only a day old and taken away from its mother. When Lennie hears this, he rushes back with the pup. How does Slim TASK 43 respond to all this? - 30 -
  37. 37. Of Mice and Men Section by section analysis - Section 3 He says that Lennie is just like a kid and George confirms this and he says that there is no more harm in him than a kid either except that he is so strong. The men return to the bunkhouse in the darkness after playing horseshoes. A Negro called Crookes has been allowed to participate in this game. We haven’t yet met Crookes but he will have a significant role to play later. We have already heard Candy describe him. Carlson complains about Candy’s old dog smelling and he offers to shoot him. Old Candy resists this but Carlson is determined and even Slim agrees that it’s time the dog is put down. A young labourer, Whit, tries to distract the group with a western magazine that includes a letter from a former worker but Carlson continues. Eventually, he leads the dog out into the darkness to shoot it. What TASK 44 does Slim mean when he tells Carlson you know what to do take a shovel? Slim is sensitive to Candy’s feelings and he knows that it would upset the old man to see the body of the dog having been shot so he is telling Carlson to make sure that he buries the dog out of sight after he has shot it. What kind of atmosphere does Steinbeck create in the bunkhouse after TASK 45 Carlson has led the dog out? - 31 -
  38. 38. Of Mice and Men Section by section analysis - Section 3 The atmosphere in the bunkhouse is very tense. The men try to continue as normal but Slim constantly watches old Candy who lies unmoving and unspeaking on his bunk. The tense atmosphere continues as they wait to hear the shot. The silence falls and this reveals a real concern and humanity for Old Candy and eventually the shot is heard. We now meet Crookes the Negro who comes in to tell Slim that the new big guy is messing about with his pups taking them out of the nest. Crookes has to prepare some tar to treat a mule’s foot and his description of Lennie and the pups draws a comparison between Lennie and Candy who both display a sentimentality towards animals. This also serves as a reminder to us that Lennie cannot leave the pups alone even though they are too young to be played with. The talk now turns to the topic of women as Whit reminds us about Curley’s wife flirting. George again predicts that she is going to cause trouble and that she could easily land a man in jail. What does the invitation for George to join the other men on their visit TASK 46 to town indicate? This is a sign that George is becoming accepted by the group. Whit invites him to go with them to town to visit a brothel where they can have drinks and meet women. TASK 47 What effect is created by his description of the ranchers night out? - 32 -
  39. 39. Of Mice and Men Section by section analysis - Section 3 His enthusiastic description of the two places in town that they can go shows how empty their life is and how this is the best that they can look forward to in entertainment. Another feature of the lonely life of the itinerant worker, completely detached from normal family life. Carlson returns and cleans up his gun after shooting the dog. Candy remains silent. Curley enters and looks threateningly around the room. What is the TASK 48 matter with him? He has come looking for his wife and it is clear when told that Slim has gone out to the barn to put some tar on a split hoof that Curley suspects that Slim is with his wife and he rushes off. Whit says that Curley is just spoiling for a fight and the fact that he is prepared to go for Slim confirms this. George is now left alone with Lennie who has returned from the barn and he questions him as to what he has been doing and whether he has seen Curley’s wife or not but Lennie assures him that he is subdued because he is worrying that George will think that he has done wrong by playing with the puppies too much. Lennie asks George when they can get that ‘little place an’ live on the fatta lan – an rabbits’. For the first time since his dog has been shot Candy stirs. He turns slowly over, his eyes wide open, and he watches George carefully. Lennie asks George to tell about that place again. George does as Lennie asks and describes their dream ranch with its windmill, little shack, chicken run, and rabbits, adds Lennie. George goes on describing how they could keep pigs and smoke bacon and catch salmon and so forth. TASK 49 What is the purpose of George keep repeating this description? - 33 -
  40. 40. Of Mice and Men Section by section analysis - Section 3 It’s reinforcing the dream life that Lennie and George would love to have. It is the dream that keeps them going and gives them strength to work and carry on even when life is hard. What do you notice about George when he talks about their dream TASK 50 ranch? His voice goes warmer and he forgets the card game that he is playing as he describes in more detail the little place that they could get cheap. As he describes it in more detail it is clear that he feels a strong need to settle and to take pride in his work. His whole description shows how much pride he takes in being able to plant and grow and the comfort that he takes in being his own boss with no danger of being sacked or canned. TASK 51 What do you notice about the way Lennie responds at this point? - 34 -
  41. 41. Of Mice and Men Section by section analysis - Section 3 As usual, Lennie cannot hear enough about the rabbits that George mentions. But it is also significant that here he shows the only sign of intentional violence that there is to be found in the whole story. TASK 52 What does he direct this violence against? It is provoked by George mentioning that they will have a setter dog and a couple of striped cats but he tells Lennie that you have got watch out for the cats otherwise they will get the rabbits. In response to this, Lennie breathes hard and says: ‘You just let em try TASK 53 to get the rabbits. I’ll break their god dam necks. I’ll…I’ll smash ‘em with a stick.’ What is the significance of this outburst? - 35 -
  42. 42. Of Mice and Men Section by section analysis - Section 3 It shows that Lennie is capable of violence even though in this case it is directed against future and in fact non-existent cats which might dare to disturb his future rabbits but, nevertheless, it shows a capacity under his calm and amenable exterior for a degree of violence. Candy joins in at this point with some questions of a practical and financial kind. TASK 54 What does he offer to do? He offers to go in with George and Lennie and contribute some money towards their farm and George tells him that he will have to think about that. Further, though, Candy offers to make a will and to leave his share to Lennie and George in the event that he should die. He tells them that he doesn’t have any relatives and that he is prepared TASK 55 to make his will right there and then. What is the effect of Candy’s offer? - 36 -
  43. 43. Of Mice and Men Section by section analysis - Section 3 Candy’s offer makes seem possible something which up until now has only been a dream to George and Lennie and George decides then to put the plan into action in a month’s time. He plans that they will buy an old place and fix it up and they will go and live there. He knows the place and he says that he will write to the people who are selling and send one hundred dollars from Candy as a deposit on the old place. TASK 56 Candy then speaks about his dog. What does he feel about it? Basically he feels that he should have shot the dog himself. He shouldn’t have let a stranger shoot him. At that point the door opens and Slim comes in followed by Curley, Carlson and Whit. Slim is scowling. TASK 57 What is the trouble between him and Curley? - 37 -
  44. 44. Of Mice and Men Section by section analysis - Section 3 It seems that Curley has accused Slim of flirting with his wife but Slim has resisted these accusations and Curley has apologised but, nevertheless, Slim is very annoyed about it. He tells him that he has been asking him about it too often and he is sick of it. He tells him that if he can’t look after his own wife, what can he do about it and to leave him alone. Carlson joins in telling Curley that he ought to tell his wife to stay at home where she belongs if he lets her hang around the bunkhouse then he deserves all he gets. Curley turns on Carlson and asks him if he wants to step outside. TASK 58 How does Carlson respond? Carlson just laughs and calls him a god dam punk. He tells him that he is trying to scare Slim and couldn’t do it. In fact Slim has thrown a scare into him and calls him yellow and warns him that - 38 -
  45. 45. Of Mice and Men Section by section analysis - Section 3 if he comes for him, he’ll kick his ‘god dam head off.’ Even Candy joins in the attack. Curley is clearly humiliated and glares at him. His eyes notice Lennie who is still smiling at the thought of the ranch. TASK 59 Curley turns on Lennie. Why does he pick on Lennie? It is typical of Curley’s cowardly nature that he should display his violence on Lennie. Lennie is big but Curley knows him to be apparently harmless. It is ironic that Lennie’s happy thoughts leave him with a smile on his face and this is misinterpreted by Curley. Even though he is so big, Lennie has two distinct disadvantages. He is terrified by aggression and he won’t defend himself at least not until commanded to do so by George. Curley then begins a vicious assault on Lennie. Lennie does not make any attempt to defend himself and Curley punches him in the face until his face is battered and bleeding. Slim makes an attempt to intervene but George stops him and he yells to Lennie: “Get him Lennie, don’t let him do it.” Lennie takes his hands away from his face and looks at George. Just as Curley is swinging his fist once more, Lennie reaches for it and grasps Curley’s fist in his huge hand. Curley is helpless and was: ‘flopping like a fish on a line’. George then shouts to - 39 -
  46. 46. Of Mice and Men Section by section analysis - Section 3 Lennie to let him go but Lennie, who is terrified, doesn’t release him. Even when George slaps him again and again, Lennie still held onto the closed fist. By this time Curley is white and shrunken and his struggling has become weaker. He is crying, still with his fist clenched within Lennie’s hand. Slim and Carlson organise medical treatment for Curley. George is TASK 60 concerned that they might get the sack for what Lennie has done to the boss’s son. How does Slim respond to this? Slim says to Curly that he thinks his hand caught in a machine. He tells him that he doesn’t want to tell anybody what happened and they’re certainly not going to and he says to him that if he tells people and gets Lennie into trouble then Slim and the others will tell everybody the true story of what happened and so Curley will become a laughing stock. Curley agrees that he won’t tell. The buggy has arrived by now and Slim helps Curley up. They are going to take him to Carlson to see a doctor. He helps Curley out of the door and there is the sound of the wheels drawing away. A moment later Slim comes back into the bunkhouse and he looks at Lennie who is still crouched fearfully against the wall. He asks to see his hands. Lennie sticks them out. Slim says ‘Christ awmighty, I hate to have you mad at me’. George interrupts and tells Slim that Lennie was just scared, he didn’t know what to do and he reminds them that he had warned them that nobody should ever fight him and then he remembers that it was Candy that he had told. Candy agrees. Lennie smiles with his bruised mouth and tells them that he doesn’t - 40 -
  47. 47. Of Mice and Men Section by section analysis - Section 3 want any trouble and he asks George if he can still tend the rabbits. George tells him that of course he can and that he hasn’t done anything wrong. ****** - 41 -
  48. 48. Of Mice and Men Section by section analysis - Section 4 6. SECTION BY SECTION ANALYSIS - SECTION 4 The next scene shifts to Crookes’s room which is next to the barn. It TASK 61 is full of harnesses and other horse tackle which is there to be repaired. What do we learn about the way Crookes is able to live here? We find that he is able to leave his personal possessions lying around because he is free from the company of the communal bunkhouse. It seems that he has more possessions that the other workers because, as a stable buck, his job is more permanent. Steinbeck gives us a detailed description of Crookes’s room. Steinbeck himself had probably seen this kind of room lots of times and it is likely that he is describing it here from his own experience. TASK 62 What kind of impression do you get of the room? It’s neat and it gives a workmanlike impression and this seems to indicate that Crookes has a committed and professional attitude towards the horses and the upkeep of their equipment. TASK 63 What kind of impression is given of Crookes? - 42 -
  49. 49. Of Mice and Men Section by section analysis - Section 4 As his name suggests he is crooked in that his spine has been damaged as the result of an accident. He is not an itinerant worker like the others and this room is his home. Steinbeck seems to indicate that he is exceptional in that he is literate and is conscious of his rights. His ‘large gold-rimmed spectacles’ are prominent and he has a ‘tattered’ copy of the California Civil Code for 1905’. These are symbols of his intellectual capability. He is a proud and aloof man. He is in constant pain, though, from his injury and he treats himself as he does the horses, with liniment. He is in the process of doing this when Lennie interrupts him and understandably he is annoyed at this interruption. In many ways, Crookes is a solitary man. A victim of prejudice because he is black and a man who enjoys solitude and his own independence. It is evident from the way that Steinbeck has described him that he wants the reader to have sympathy with this character. Much of his pride and his truculence can be seen as a defence mechanism against the racial prejudice that he experiences from the other work-hands. He has been excluded from the bunkhouse because of his colour and there is no reason why he should welcome the appearance of Lennie. - 43 -
  50. 50. Of Mice and Men Section by section analysis - Section 4 TASK 64 What irony do you detect here? The irony is that Crookes, like Lennie, is desperately lonely and so eventually he invites Lennie to sit down. Lennie of course has already forgotten that he is not to talk about his and George’s plans for the future because he is thinking so much about the rabbits. He doesn’t really listen to Crookes who talks about his childhood and his isolation. Perhaps this is another way in which Steinbeck intensifies their sense of loneliness and isolation in that the characters don’t listen to each other. TASK 65 How does Crookes respond to Lennie? In a way he taunts Lennie perhaps being unable to resist a rare opportunity to inflict pain on someone else. He suggests that George and Lennie are together because of the companionship - 44 -
  51. 51. Of Mice and Men Section by section analysis - Section 4 that each needs with the other. Perhaps out of envy because he has a companion Crookes taunts Lennie with the idea that George may desert him. Although Lennie is sure that George will come back Crookes upsets him with the suggestion that George may be hurt. TASK 66 How does Lennie respond to this suggestion? The thought of this almost pushes Lennie to violence. Notice how Steinbeck creates a sense of tension here: ‘Suddenly Lennie’s eyes centred and grew quiet and mad. He stood up and walked dangerously towards Crookes. “Who hurt George?” he demanded’. Fortunately Crookes is aware of the danger here and he edges back on the bunk to get out of the way and passes it off by assuring Lennie that he was just supposing and that George isn’t really hurt and it is okay, he’ll be back. Crookes goes on to talk about the ranch where he spent his childhood and the mention of alfalfa makes Lennie forget about George. At this point Candy arrives. How does Crookes feel about this? TASK 67 continues on next page - 45 -
  52. 52. Of Mice and Men Section by section analysis - Section 4 He is disappointed because he sees his new friendship as it was developing with Lennie threatened by the intrusion of someone else. At the same time, though, he is both pleased and excited at the unusual prospect of company and the friendly evening. Notice here how Lennie innocently disregards the fact that this is Crookes’s private room while Candy on the other hand is very aware of the social distance between himself and Crookes. Candy, though, who has gone through the experience of losing his dog also has a kind of enforced loneliness thrust upon him and it is significant that these three are left alone together as outsiders whilst the rest of the men have gone to town. The talk goes on about the rabbits and the proposed piece of land, Candy also having forgot his vow of silence like Lennie. How does Crookes respond to their plans? TASK 68 - 46 -
  53. 53. Of Mice and Men Section by section analysis - Section 4 He is very critical of their plan and he puts it down as being just a dream until he hears that they have both the money and an actual place in mind. When he hears this he almost believes it might really happen and he asks to be included in the plan. At that point, Curley’s wife appears looking for Curley. Underneath, though, we can detect that she is not really interested in finding Curley but she is looking for male company. He has abandoned her to go with the other men to the town and to the brothel which does not, of course, say very much for their marriage. Although she makes a derogatory comment about all the weak ones being left behind together in a sense she too is a lonely woman, a victim of the isolation imposed on her by her circumstances. TASK 69 Like the others left behind she too has her dreams. What are these dreams? She tells them how she could have gone off with the shows and become a star, how one man had told her how he could get her a job in the cinema so she had ideas that she has wasted and dreams that she could have been a star. She goes on to probe about the truth concerning the injury to Curley’s fist and she complains that the men won’t talk to her and that she has nothing to do on a Saturday night. TASK 70 How does Candy respond? - 47 -
  54. 54. Of Mice and Men Section by section analysis - Section 4 He is tired and angry at her insults and he becomes angry with her when she scoffs at their plan. She begins to suspect that Lennie was the cause of the injury to her husband and she begins to turn her attention on him. TASK 71 What do you notice about the way that she speaks to Lennie? The way she talks to him has sexual undertones. Part of her is probably attracted by someone who can beat Curley and she says that if rabbits is all Lennie wants she might get a couple of herself. Lennie, of course, doesn’t understand the double meaning in Curley’s wife’s words but Crookes does and he intervenes now trying to protect Lennie. He attempts to assert himself which, for a black man confronting a white woman, is putting himself at great risk. TASK 72 How does Curley’s wife respond to Crookes? - 48 -
  55. 55. Of Mice and Men Section by section analysis - Section 4 She responds by threatening to exercise the little power she has by getting Crookes hanged. Notice the way here that she speaks to him scornfully using a term like ‘nigger’ which is designed to put him in his place and for her to exert her authority over him. She has little power but she does have power over Crookes. Notice how she is described as standing ‘over him as they are waiting for him to move so that she could whip at him again’. Crookes, though, knows better and he knows when he is beaten and he sits still not looking at her and at last she leaves him alone. Candy tells her that he thinks he hears the others coming back and she had better go. Not wanting to take any chances she agrees to. She doesn’t want the others to tell her husband that she has been out of the house. TASK 73 Before she goes what does she have to say to Lennie? She tells Lennie that she is glad that he ‘bust up Curley a little bit’ she felt that he had got it coming to him that sometimes she’d like to ‘bust him myself’ and then she leaves. Crookes tells the others that they had better go too now, he’s not sure that he wants them there anymore. Why does Crookes feel like this? TASK 74 - 49 -
  56. 56. Of Mice and Men Section by section analysis - Section 4 He feels that even a coloured man has got to have some rights and that by the others being in his place that had drawn Curley’s wife to his living quarters and he had been hurt by what she had said to him and how small and insignificant she had made him feel. Having the others there had made him forget his true position but she had reminded him of it. At this point George returns. How does he respond to the fact that the others know about their plans TASK 75 for the future? He is angry that their plans have been revealed and it is clear now that the good-natured mood of the evening has been well and truly broken. Crookes tells Candy to forget his request to join them in their plans for the future and he is left alone in his room. ****** - 50 -
  57. 57. Of Mice and Men Section by section analysis - Section 5 7. SECTION BY SECTION ANALYSIS - SECTION 5 It is now Sunday afternoon and the workers have some leisure time. TASK 76 Most of the men are playing horseshoes outside but what is Lennie doing? He is alone in the barn talking to his puppy. It is dead and lays in front of him. Lennie looks at it for a long time and then he puts out his huge hand and strokes it from one end to the other. What has happened to the puppy? TASK 77 - 51 -
  58. 58. Of Mice and Men Section by section analysis - Section 5 It is clear from what Lennie says that he has killed it. He has played with the puppy but, not knowing his own strength, he has accidentally killed the animal. He scoops a little hollow and lays the puppy in it and covers it with hay. He decides to tell George that he found the puppy dead like that. He then unburies the puppy and looks at it again stroking it from ear to tail and he knows that George will know if he tells him that. Suddenly, in a fit of anger, he picks the puppy up unable to understand how it has come to be dead and he hurls it away from him and he sits bent over his knees whispering ‘now I won’t get to tend the rabbits.’ Lennie retrieves the pup and begins to stroke it once again. Just at that point, Curley’s wife comes round the end of the last stall very quietly so that at first Lennie doesn’t see her. TASK 78 What do you notice about the way that Curley’s wife is dressed? The white cotton dress, the mules and the red ostrich feathers are clearly designed to be provocative. Her face is made up and she has clearly spent a lot of time getting her hair all in place. She comes quite near to Lennie before he sees her and he suddenly panics shovelling hay over the puppy with his fingers before looking up sullenly at her. She tells him that she knows that it was he that broke her husband’s hand but Lennie refuses to be drawn. TASK 79 What does Curley’s wife want? - 52 -
  59. 59. Of Mice and Men Section by section analysis - Section 5 She says she wants to talk to Lennie because she is lonely and that she can’t talk to anybody. She wants to know what Lennie has got there and he reveals that it is his little pup. TASK 80 We now learn a little bit more about how the pup met its end. What had happened? Lennie tells her that he was just playing with him and the pup made like he was going to bite Lennie and Lennie made like he was going to smack him and he did and clearly the smack had killed him. TASK 81 What attitude does Curley’s wife take here? - 53 -
  60. 60. Of Mice and Men Section by section analysis - Section 5 She comforts him and consoles him and tells him not to worry he can easy get another one, the whole country’s full of pups or ‘mutts’ as she calls them. She moves closer to him speaking soothingly and telling him not to worry about talking to her. Lennie is worried, though, about what George will say if he sees him talking to her. At this she gets angry wanting to know what’s the matter with her, hasn’t she got a right to talk to anybody and so on. TASK 82 She then begins to tell him about herself. What does she have to say? She tells him that when she was young she met an actor in one of the shows but her mother wouldn’t let her go off with the actor because she was only fifteen and that was the beginning of her dream of being in the movies. Then she tells of how she married Curley out of desperation when her hopes were dashed. The fact that we are told that ‘her words tumbled out in a passion of communication, as though she hurried before her listener could be taken away’ gives us an insight into just how lonely and desperate for real communication Curley’s wife is. Like Lennie and Crookes and Candy she is a misfit, a misfit lost in her own lonely world. While she is talking, Lennie talks of the rabbits but just as they had done in Crookes’s room, neither pay much attention to what the other is saying. TASK 83 What effect does she hope the story will have on Lennie? - 54 -
  61. 61. Of Mice and Men Section by section analysis - Section 5 She hopes to impress Lennie with her story and further she confesses to him that she does not like her husband. TASK 84 How real do you think her opportunity to become an actress was? Not very real. She seems to be star-struck and to have taken seriously the flattering promises made by men who were trying, probably for sexual reasons, to ingratiate themselves with her. Despite her attempts at sophistication, underneath she seems pathetically naïve. TASK 85 Can you find a particular example to support the idea of her naivety? The notable one is when she is convinced that her ol’ lady stole the letter from Hollywood that would have been her passport to become a movie star. TASK 86 Why did Curley’s wife marry Curley? - 55 -
  62. 62. Of Mice and Men Section by section analysis - Section 5 The pair met at a dance hall one evening when she had decided that she just could not stay at home any longer. She obviously did not have the intelligence or perhaps the desire to grasp the hollowness of the promises which men made her. She saw, then, Curley’s offer of marriage as her last chance of escape. She tells us, though: ‘I don’ like Curley. He ain’t a nice fella’. As had happened with Crookes, Lennie’s innocent and open manner inspires confidence in her. Lennie goes on to tell her about the little farm with the garden and the rabbits that he and George have got planned for themselves. He moves cautiously closer to her until he’s right up against her. She asks him what makes him so nuts about rabbits. He tells her that he likes to pet nice things. Curley’s wife moves away from him a little bit telling him that she thinks he is nuts. As he talks about the imaginary rabbits the two sit closer together and talk about petting nice things. Curley’s invites Lennie to touch her hair but she appeals to him to be careful not to mess it up. As he strokes her hair she becomes worried and wants him to release her but the more she yells the more tightly Lennie hangs on. - 56 -
  63. 63. Of Mice and Men Section by section analysis - Section 5 TASK 87 Does this remind you about another episode that we heard about earlier in the novel? What was it? Exactly the same thing had happened with the girl’s dress in Weed and later with Curley’s fist. Lennie, as ever unaware of his own great strength, shakes her in his fright and terror and breaks her neck. He soon begins to understand the seriousness of what he has done and he says: ‘I shouldn’t have did that. George will be mad.’ TASK 88 What does he then remember? He then remembers George’s instruction about returning to the campsite they had used on the way to the ranch and to hide there if anything ever went wrong or he got into trouble. Still concerned that the dead puppy should not be discovered he take it with him just as he had done the mouse in the opening - 57 -
  64. 64. Of Mice and Men Section by section analysis - Section 5 scene. After a little while, Candy comes into the barn and discovers the body of Curley’s wife. TASK 89 Candy fetches George and the two wonder what to do. What does George conclude in the end? George concludes that the others will have to be told and that Lennie will have to be jailed for his own good. Candy reminds George, though, that Curley will be intent on getting his revenge on Lennie and he will probably organise a lynch mob to hang Lennie. TASK 90 Why does Candy agree to let George appear to know only about the death of Curley’s wife as the others find out? He does this to try to protect George from any suggestion that any of the others might make that he had conspired in the death of Curley’s wife with Lennie. The men come into the barn: Slim, Carlson, young white, and Curley, Crookes keeping back and - 58 -
  65. 65. Of Mice and Men Section by section analysis - Section 5 last of all George. They find the body and stay still, looking. Slim went forward to examine the body and he felt her twisted neck with his fingers. TASK 91 Then the other men crowded near. How does Curley respond? Curley reacts with rage. He knows who has done it and vows to shoot Lennie. Carlson backs him up saying: ‘I’ll get my Luger’ and they both run out of the barn. Slim tells George that it looks as if Lennie is responsible for her death. George didn’t answer but he nodded slowly. Slim makes the connection with the incident in Weed that George had TASK 92 told him about. How does Slim respond? - 59 -