FC: Of Mice and Men | By John Steinbeck | Project By Nick Greene
1: The Setting | The Salinas Valley | The Ranch | The novel is set in the Salinas Valley, which is a major agricultural area in California. Often considered to be a beautiful area, the introduction of the novel portrays part of the valley as The Garden of Eden. This portrayal as The Garden shows the simplicity of nature as a possible relief from the world as well as a potential cause of demise, as Lennie was killed in this Garden of Eden. In this way, The Garden, possibly symbolic of dreams, shows that such pursuits for a dream can ultimately be disastrous. | The ranch within the Salinas Valley provides the place for the events of the novel to occur. Here, Lennie and George will work to attempt to gain their dream and ultimately Lennie will kill Curley's wife.
2: The Characters | Lennie | Lennie craves the better life that so many others also crave. For him, he dreams of living on a small farm and tending to rabbits. He also represents George's dream of living on the farm with Lennie and a possibly trouble free life. By George's action of killing Lennie, George can be seen to be letting go of his dream for that quiet ranch as well as also showing the death of Lennie's dream. In this way, Lennie is the ultimate symbol of the falsity of the American Dream. | Symbol of the American Dream | Symbol of Societal Oppression | With his mental disabilities and society's lack of concern for his well-being, Lennie acts as the ultimate symbol of oppression. Whether through Curley's attacks or the mob to kill him, someone who is arguably the nicest, although accidentally murderous, is attacked by the very society that he lives in.
3: George | George acts as a friend to Lennie by assisting him in life, although he does feel his fair share of disgruntlement. Throughout the novel, George looks after Lennie and tries to do what he thinks is best for him. In the end, he makes the decision to put Lennie out of his misery and possibly avoid a worse fate. | Lennie's Caretaker | George dreams of living on a ranch with Lennie and being able to care and work for himself. This is his American Dream that he is willing to work for and has always wanted. His action of killing Lennie shows his compassion with Lennie's own misery and finally accepting that his dream is unobtainable. | Pursuer of the American Dream | George can be seen as witty, smart, and kind, although he often insults Lennie. He also shows deep dedication in his care of Lennie. | Basic Traits | A movie portrayal of George
4: Crooks | Crooks' main purpose in the novel is to show the racist abuses inflicted by society. He is separated from the other ranchers in the text and feels dreadfully alone, and only the innocence of Lennie convinces him to open to the outside world. | Crooks' secondary purpose is to show the harm of isolation, as a life separated from society due to race made him unwilling to let others into his trust. | Racial Oppression | Isolation | A Movie Portrayal of Crooks
5: Slim | Slim stands as the well respected rancher of the group, and is described as commanding the respect in his advice as well as decisions. He is also seen as kind, such as through his gift of a dog to Lennie. Along with these values, he also works hard and stands for what he believes in, such as threatening to help Lennie fight Curley. | His ultimate contribution to the novel, however, lies in his last words of the novel. By telling George that killing Lennie had to be done, he admits that sometimes pain must be ended and that the American Dream must sometimes be put down. | Description | Main Purpose | A Movie Portrayal of Slim
6: Themes | The American Dream | ---George and Lennie dream of buying their own farm and living off of the land, and Lennie focuses his mind of the idea of caring for rabbits. ---Candy also wants to join in the farm and be able to have more control over his life ---The American Dream can be seen as a lie, as just when they thought they could actually accomplish the dream, Lennie killed Curley's wife. This act made the dream unobtainable.
7: Abuses By Others | ---Lennie's killing of the mice in his childhood ---Lennie's act of murder against Curley's wife ---Curley's assault on Lennie and attempts to fight ---the heron eating the small and defenseless snake ---the group of men seeking to kill Lennie for the murder ---the racist attitudes held by many, including Curley's wife's threats, toward Crooks
8: Symbols | The Heron and the Snake | The Heron eating the much smaller and seemingly defenseless snake symbolizes the tendency of society to trample on the weak. The fleeing of the heron after the arrival of Lennie also shows that these abuses will continue until something formidable enters the scene to stop the abuse.
9: Mice and Rabbits | The Old Dog | Candy's old dog, which he had owned for a very long time, was described as being old, slow, smelly, and in pain. Due to these facts, Carlson shot the dog to put it out of its misery. This act ties to the eventual shooting of Lennie and shows that sometimes the proper and just thing is to end the pain, even if by somewhat extreme means. The dog ultimately becomes a symbol of the need for compassion and the embracing of flaws in life. | Both represent innocence as well as the abuses against the innocent. As small and simple creatures, the simpleness of nature creates the intended sense of innocence. They also represent the oppression on the weak as Lennie was known to kill mice accidentally as a child. If he ever got the opportunity to raise the rabbits, the same things would likely happen.
10: The Use of Diction | The main use of diction to influence the novel is the use of swearing, which is seemingly found on almost every page. This use contributes to the overall sense of realism in the novel as well as further developing the cultural lifestyle of the ranchers of the time. | The Use of Swearing | Diction of the Common Man | The phrasing used by many of the ranchers contributes to the portrayal of the general lack of education. This use of improper grammar adds to the idea of the oppressed and hard hit farmer who strives for the American Dream.
11: The Portrayal of Mental Disabilities | Accomplished through Lennie, the mental handicapped are presented as almost childlike in mental disposition, although Lennie is also seen as a towering and strong person. Lennie is also seen to be unusually kind, although countless misfortunes, including murder, occur from his condition. | By portraying Lennie in such a way, Steinbeck can create Lennie as someone who society is taking advantage of as well as oppressing in hardship. These ideas help reinforce the idea that the American Dream is a lie. | Effects of This Portrayal | The Portrayal