CHAPTER 1 SUMMARY: “OF MICE AND MEN” CHARACTERS George: • “Small and quick, dark of face, with restless eyes and sharp, strong features. Every part of him was defined: small, strong hands, slender arms, a thin and bony nose. ” • George is a small and strong character who’s totally opposite of Lennie, but even though he’s small, he’s always committed and he helps Lennie by looking after him and supporting him. • The description of George shows that he’s a normal person. – “George knelt beside the pool and drank from his hand with quick scoops. Taste all right, he admitted. Don’t really seem to be running though. You never oughta drink water when it ain’t running, Lennie’ he said hopelessly. ” • George is a caring, careful, thoughtful character by the way he deals with situations. • Been compared with Lennie from the way they drink and they contrast each other but they also balance each other out. • Sometimes George runs out of patience with Lennie’s actions and mental disability but he still deals with him and cares for him. – “So you forgot that awready, did you?
I gotta tell you again, do I? Jesus Christ, you’re a crazy bastard! ” • George knows that he could live such a good life if he doesn’t have to take care of Lennie, but despite of this George still chooses to be with Lennie. – “I could get along so easy and so nice if I didn’t have you on my tail…I was jus’ foolin’, Lennie. ‘Cause I want you to stay with me. ” Lennie: • “his opposite, a huge man, shapeless of face, with large, pale eyes, with wide, sloping shoulders; and he walked heavily, dragging his feet a little, the way a bear drags his paws.
His arms did not swing at his sides, but hung loosely. ” • Lennie is a huge and strong man who’s totally opposite George, but even though he’s big and strong he is mentally disabled. He relies on George and he is a loyal friend to George. He gives George company and hope. • Lennie is loyal to George, he respects him and protects him – “Lennie, who had been waiting, imitated George exactly. He pushed himself back, drew up his knees, embraced them, looked over to George to see whether he had it just right.
He pulled his hat down a little more over his eyes, the way George’s hat was. ” • He is compared to an animal which shows that he is more at home in the natural world. – “dabbled his big paw” – “the way a bear drags his paws” – “snorting into the water like a horse” – “like a terrier…Lennie approached” • The readers feel pathos for him because “I tried not to forget. Honest to God I did, George…tried and tried…but it didn’t do no good. • He tries his best to make George happy – “I wouldn’t eat none, George. I’d leave it all for you. ” • Lennie is George’s only source of happiness in life and so he doesn’t want to leave him and they’ll go through their journey together and achieve their dreams together. SETTING The brush; near the Salinas River, south of Soledad • calm, serene beautiful – “deep and green” – “slipped twinkling over the yellow sands” – “golden foothill slopes” gives security and a sense of protection – “strong and rocky Gabilan mountains” • safe place to be – “rabbits come out of the brush to sit” • reflects Lennie and George’s relationship, how they belong together • nature’s beauty destroyed by humans – “path beaten hard by boys” – “ash pile made by many fires” – “limb is worn smooth by men” – “rabbits hurried noiselessly” • amount of sunlight represents hope – “sun that had gone from the valley” – “dusk came into the valley” – “it was quite dark now” • hope was leaving them, which is shown through the decreasing amount of sunlight • This is the setting where the theme of American Dream is first presented and the theme of friendship. We are given the image of Lennie and George sitting and eating around a fire talking about their dreams, which gives them hope. – “With us it ain’t like that. We got a future. ” • This is an important setting because it shows structure.
Lennie and George end up back where they started and where we met them. • Tension is also introduced in this setting because of the problems that Lennie and George face from the beginning, which is further developed by their dialogue when they were arguing. – “God damn”, – “Jesus Christ” – “You crazy son-of-a-bitch” • The mood in this setting is unity, happiness, optimism and hope. This reflects the bond between Lennie and George through the beautiful setting. • “if you jus’ happen to get in trouble like you always done before…hide in the brush” foreshadows that they will face troubles and hardships along the journey. The water snake is introduced which foreshadows danger and death – “water snake slipped along on the pool” • The brush shows their bond with nature and exclusion from any real power; far from humans, buildings and the bunkhouse. It’s their own safe haven. • Darkening entrapment by the Salinas River, where life rises momentarily to the surface, then sinks to the depths. – “For a moment the place was lifeless, and then two men emerged from the path” – “The sycamore limbs rustled under a little wind that died immediately” – “A big carp rose to the surface of the pool, gulped air and then sank mysteriously into the water again. ” ?
This shows how short-lived their dreams are going to be. Their dreams give them hope for a moment when they dream but they suffer again when they get back to reality. THEMES American Dream • George and Lennie have this Dream to have a place of their own where they are happy and free. To escape from the reality of life full of despair, racism, violence and hatred; The Great Depression. “We’d just live there and we’d belong. ” • George narrates a story full of happiness and security to Lennie which is further developed through symbolism of the rabbits and the cream. “An’ live off the fatta the lan’. ” “And how thick the cream is you can hardly cut it. ” “And I get to tend the rabbits. ” Their dream fills them with hope and makes them become ‘alive’. “George’s voice became deeper” • It also strengthens the bond between them because they are able to share this common dream in life. • Although, their American Dream is just that, merely a dream which is further emphasised through the symbolism of the impossible and unattainable dream. “Let’s have different coloured rabbits, George. ” “Red, Blue and Green, Lennie. Millions of’ em. ” Friendship • The theme is shown through the strong bond embodied by George and Lennie. • They have each other to look after one another and work together to survive. • They belong together and balance one another. “But not us!… ecause I got you to look after me, and you got me to look after you. ” • Together in companionship they represent the Dream. • Their friendship strengthens their dream and makes the dream more vivid in their minds, unlike the other ranch men who have no one to share their dream with. • With Lennie and George, it was the exact opposite. They had each other and hope. “With us it ain’t like that. We got a future. We got somebody to talk to that gives a damn about us. ” • George and Lennie struggles to keep their dream ‘alive’ and to be with each other. They help each other overcome obstacles even though Lennie keeps George “in hot water all the time. “You do bad things and I got to get you out. ” “ No – Look!… I want you to stay with me. ” Some important ideas about the themes: • The theme shows us how loneliness can be driven away by friendship. • Their dreams also prevent the characters from falling into despair. • It gives them hope and a purpose to live life and work hard. • Reality contrasts to their dream; a symbol for this is the Bunkhouse where there are broken men who have lost hope. • We are introduced to the themes early on from the novel, showing its importance to the novel. • The themes are presented through the characters of the novel and are developed through contrast and symbolism.