OF MICE AND MEN

KEY LITERARY ELEMENTS

SETTING

This book is set in two places. It starts beside a stream, close to the Salinas River, a few miles

South of Soledad. It then moves to a ranch, where the major part of the story is set. At the end of
the novel, the setting comes back to where it started.

The stream introduces George and Lennie. They are on their way to a near-by ranch. The
surrounding land is thick in vegetation and has its own wild life. Men frequent it, as there are ash
piles made by many fires and the limbs of the sycamore tree have been smoothed by the many
men who have sat on it.

The ranch, where the major part of the story takes place, appears isolated and lonely. It includes
a ranch house, a bunkhouse where the ranch workers live, a barn, and a harness-room off the
barn.

CHARACTERS

Major Characters

George - the protagonist and main character of the book. He is a caring, compassionate, and
understanding human being who dreams of owning his own piece of land.

Lennie - the obedient friend of George. He has a child\'s mind and a giant\'s body. It is these
contrasting qualities that cause him problems.

Old Candy - one of the lonely ranch workers. He is a cripple, working as a \'Swamper\'.

Crooks - a black ranch hand. He is sensible and neat, with a mind of his own. He is a lonely
character, who is discriminated against, due to his race.

Slim - a ranch worker with leadership qualities. He commands respect from all on the ranch.

Curley - the boss\'s son who is a light weight boxer. He picks fights with everybody on the ranch.

Curley\'s wife - the only woman on the ranch. She is very flirtatious.

Minor Characters

Carlson - a brutal man. He objects to Candy keeping his old dog.

Whit - a ranch worker. He is sent to town to fetch the Sheriff after Curley\'s wife is murdered.

The Boss - a \'mice fella\' (in Candy\'s words). He is more concerned about his work on the ranch
than anyone else.

CONFLICT

Protagonist: The protagonist of the story is George. He is the kind-hearted ranch hand who is
concerned about his friend Lennie and watches out for him.

Antagonist: The antagonist of the story is George\'s trying to care for the handicapped Lennie.

Because he has a giant\'s body and a child\'s mind, Lennie accidentally kills Curley\'s wife; at the
same time he kills the dream of owning a farm that has kept George and Lennie positive about
the future

Climax: The climax occurs when Lennie accidentally kills Curley\'s wife. George knows that he
can no longer save Lennie, for Curley will want revenge.

Outcome: Of Mice and Men ends in tragedy. George feels compelled to mercifully kill his
friend and companion, Lennie, in order to save him from a brutal death. The death of Lennie also
marks the death of the beautiful dream they have been nurturing.

MOOD

The dominant mood of the story is that of expectation. This mood is developed through the
dreams of the major characters. The other mood that prevails is premonitory, of impending
doom. There are also other moods evoked through the actions of the characters reflecting sorrow,
pity, and brutality. The novel ends on a tragic note. The mood at the end is definitely one of
depression and frustration.

PLOT (Synopsis)

One evening, two men, on their way to a ranch, stop at a stream near the Salinas River. George,
who is short and dark, leads the way. The person following him is Lennie, a giant of a man with
huge arms. During their conversation by the stream, George repeatedly asks Lennie to keep his
mouth shut on the ranch, suggesting that Lennie has some kind of problem. After supper and
before going to sleep, the two of them talk about their dream to own a piece of land.

The next day, George and Lennie travel to the ranch to start work. They are given two beds in
the bunkhouse. Then Old Candy introduces them to almost everybody on the ranch. They meet
the boss and the boss\'s son Curley, who is quite rude. They also meet Curley\'s wife when she
comes looking for her husband. She wears heavy make-up and possesses a flirtatious attitude.

George warns Lennie to behave his best around Curley and his wife. He also suggests that they
should meet by the pool if anything unfortunate happens to either