Free Study Guide: Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck - Free BookNotes

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This book is set during the Great Depression of the 1930s in two places. It starts beside a stream, close to the Salinas River, a few miles south of Soledad, California. 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.

George and Lennie are introduced by the stream. 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.


Major Characters

George Milton
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. Physically, he is a small and intelligent man with strong features. He is Lennie's cousin.

Lennie Small
The obedient friend of George. He has a child’s mind and a giant’s body. He is mentally retarded, and relies upon George. It is these contrasting qualities and his impulsive nature that cause him problems.

Old Candy
One of the lonely ranch workers. He is a cripple (missing a hand), working as a ‘Swamper’.

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.

A ranch worker with leadership qualities. He commands respect from all on the ranch.

The boss’s son who was a boxer. He is short, stocky, and thinks he is better than all the others. He picks fights with everybody on the ranch.

Curley’s wife
The only woman on the ranch. She is very flirtatious.

Minor Characters

A brutal man. He objects to Candy keeping his old dog.

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.

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Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck: Free BookNotes Summary

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