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Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck

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  1. Summary.
  2. Chapter 1: The scene in a clearing, close to the Salinas river.
  3. Chapter 2: The next morning.
  4. Chapter 3: Slim and George.
  5. Chapter 4: The scene in Crooks.
  6. Chapter 5: The afternoon.
  7. Chapter 6: The last scene.
  8. Context of the writing.
  9. Weakness and the problem of happiness in Of Mice and Men.
  10. Conclusion.

The scene takes place in a clearing, close to the Salinas river, ?a few miles South of Soledad?, at dusk. Two men come (the two main characters), one following the other. The first one is George and the second one Lennie. They are ranch workers who travel together from a ranch to another to find job. Whereas George is a clever average-sized man, Lennie is a very big and very ?dumb? one. We understand that they have been fired of their last job for Lennie has done a ?bad thing?. The whole chapter aims to present the opposite behaviours of the characters, one commanding all the time, the other obeying as a child. We have to note that Lennie is in fond of petting animals. In that chapter he's got a dead mouse that George forbids him to pet and throws away. Moreover this first chapter reveals the dream both characters share: ?to get a little house, a couple of acres, animals (among which rabbits which Lennie likes a lot), and live off the fatta the lan'?. Lennie is told, in case he gets in trouble in the ranch, to go hide in the brush close to the river where George would meet him. But if it happened, he would be punished by not being allowed ?to tend the rabbits?.

[...] She stays anyway and tells him the story of her sad life and of her failed marriage. Lennie just talks about rabbits?. And being asked what gets him mad about rabbits, he answers: like to pet nice things?. Understanding, she proposes to him to touch her hair, which she says is soft and nice. A bad idea: Lennie holds the hair so strong that the girl starts screaming. Lennie panics and, to make her shut up, shakes her so much that he breaks her neck. [...]


[...] That's why besides the two great strike novels he wrote in the 1930's, In Dubious Battle and The Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck wrote during the same years a trilogy about agricultural labor in California, composed by Paradise Lost, Of Mice and Men, and The Battle Hymn of the Republic. But whereas In Dubious Battle and The Grapes of Wrath, written while strikes were taking a never-seen-before importance and the communist movement developing, dealt with topical problems, the action of Of Mice and Men, written in 1936, is situated at a time when California's corps were harvested by itinerant workers (mostly single men and often feeble-minded), which clearly doesn't correspond to the 1930's. [...]


[...] But the melancholic atmosphere is soon cut by the entrance of Curley and Slim who start quarrelling. Being provoked by several men, Curley wants to fight the socks him in the face and gets his hand broken by a scared Lennie, encouraged by George to defend himself. Chapter 4 The scene here takes place in Crooks'(the Negro stable buck) little shed, stuck to the barn, on a Saturday night while all the men have gone down town Soledad to a whore house, excepted Lennie, Candy and the black man. [...]

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