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For other uses, see Of Mice and Men (disambiguation).
Of Mice and Men
First edition cover
Publication date 1937
Of Mice and Men is a novella written by Nobel Prize-winning author John Steinbeck. Published in 1937, it tells the story of George Milton and Lennie Small, two displaced migrant ranch workers, who move from place to place in search of new job opportunities during the Great Depression in California, United States.
Based on Steinbeck's own experiences as a bindlestiff in the 1920s (before the arrival of the Okies he would vividly describe in The Grapes of Wrath), the title is taken from Robert Burns' poem "To a Mouse", which read: "The best laid schemes o' mice an' men / Gang aft agley." (The best laid schemes of mice and men / Often go awry.)
Required reading in many schools, Of Mice and Men has been a frequent target of censors for vulgarity and what some consider offensive and racist language; consequently, it appears on the American Library Association's list of the Most Challenged Books of 21st Century.
1 Plot summary
4 Animal imagery
7 Adaptations 7.1 Cinema
7.4 Other references
8 See also
9 References 9.1 Notes
10 External links
Two migrant field workers in California on their plantation during the Great Depression—George Milton, an intelligent but uneducated man, and Lennie Small, a man of large stature and great strength but limited mental abilities—are on their way to another part of California in Soledad. They hope to one day attain their shared dream of settling down on their own piece of land. Lennie's part of the dream is merely to tend to (and touch) soft rabbits on the farm. This dream is one of Lennie's favorite stories, which George constantly retells. They are fleeing from their previous employment in Weed, California, where they were run out of town after Lennie's love of stroking soft things resulted in an accusation of attempted rape, when he touched a young woman's dress, and would not let go. It soon becomes clear that the two are close friends and George is Lennie's protector. The theme of friendship is a constant throughout the story.
At the ranch, the situation appears to be menacing and dangerous, especially when the pair are confronted by Curley — The Boss's small-statured, aggressive son with an inferiority complex who dislikes larger men — leaving the gentle giant Lennie potentially vulnerable. Curley's flirtatious and provocative wife, to whom Lennie is instantly attracted, poses a problem as well. In sharp contrast to these two characters, the pair also meets Slim, the kind, intelligent and intuitive jerkline-skinner whose dog has recently had a litter of puppies. Slim gives a puppy to Lennie.
In spite of the potential problems on the ranch, their dream leaps towards reality when Candy, the aged, one-handed ranch hand, offers to pitch in with George and Lennie so that they can buy a farm at the end of the month, in return for permission to live with them on it. The trio are ecstatic, but their joy is overshadowed when Curley attacks Lennie. In response, Lennie, urged on by George, catches Curley's fist and crushes it, reminding the group there are still obstacles to overcome before their goal is reached.
Nevertheless, George feels more relaxed, since the dream seems just within their grasp, to the extent that he even leaves Lennie behind on the ranch while he goes into town with the other ranch hands. Lennie wanders into the stable, and chats with Crooks, the bitter, yet educated stable buck, who is isolated from the