The plot starts with Lennie and George going through a work change. Lennie has made a mistake which costs them their jobs. George now has to find them work and try to keep Lennie out of trouble. This means a change of state. This is the initial situation in the novel as two young men have to adjust and George has to try to keep Lennie out of trouble so they can “raise a stake” ( make lots of money) in this new place. This situation is tense as Lennie just wants to do what George says and George knows this is one of their last chances. Steinbeck shows the audience the relationship between Lennie and George and also gives the reader the classic American dream. The fantasy of raising their own farm and not owning anybody anything is developed in the opening chapter.
Lennie and George start work and do not run into much
dilemma. George knows to keep clear of Curley as he is just looking for a
fight, but other than that, both Lennie and George are working hard and making
friends. George decides to give Lennie a puppy which gives Lennie some
responsibility. John Steinbeck introduces Curley as the antagonist and also
identifies him as the power and boss over George and Lennie as Curley is the
boss’s son. The relationships on the ranch are all male except for Curley’s wife. Steinbeck introduces the one woman in this novel as just a housekeeper, a sexual pleasure and has now responsibilities on the farm. Curley’s wife is the ultimate sexual tease for the whole ranch as she walks around trying to find anyone but Curley.
George has now found a friend in Slim and tells him his
secrets. One secret George holds is that he had mistreated Lennie in the past.
Steinbeck shows how George was not always so good and demonstrates that George had a moral development when he decided to not pick on Lennie anymore. Morals come back into play in this chapter as Candy is persuaded into killing his dog. He does not do it himself though and he later wishes that he would have done it himself. This is Steinbeck’s foreshadowing and shows how Candy had his power stolen. Curley also had his power stolen when Lennie broke his fist. Lennie is being controlled by everyone until he broke and disempowered Curley with his physical strength. This act is the inciting force in the plot line. Each new act Lennie commits shows the audience what is to come.
Lennie makes a strong effort to befriend the Buck hand, Crooks. Crooks at
first does not allow Lennie who is white to enter, as Crooks is a African American and cannot enter the all white bunkhouse. Crooks gives up his judgement so he can have some long awaited company. While talking, Lennie and Crooks are the same and share no predjudice against one another. Once the woman comes in and is appalled that Crooks even speaks to her, Crooks backs down and accepts that he should be treated poorly because of his colour. The other situation where Crooks is “put back in his place” is when Lennie gets mad at what Crooks said and threatens Crooks which makes Crooks back down and become the slave again. Steinbeck adds Crooks to show how racism was strong and yet there was hope as Crooks does show some resistance against the white people.
While Lennie has killed his puppy because of holding on too tight,
Curley’s wife comes into the barn. Curley’s wife opens up and allows the
audience to sympathize with her as they never did before. This is a key point for
Steinbeck so that the audience feels for her right before her death. Lennie is
frightened by her yelling which like all the other times when Lennie’s been
frightened, he reacts by holding on tight. He kills Curley’s wife which affects
the audience as she was just shone in a different light. This event is the
climax of the novel as Lennie has done something not even George can get him out of. After this, George is faced with the big question of either killing Lennie himself or letting Curley slaughter Lennie. As the foreshadowing predicts, George recognizes that he has to kill Lennie.
The last chapter is sad for everyone except Lennie. Lennie is confused
why George is not mad, but has no idea of his immediate future. George remains calm and does not express his sadness as he wants his last memory of Lennie happy. So George once again retells their farm fantasy to keep Lennie happy. George knows that killing Lennie is the best way for Lennie Small to go. So George becomes the hero in the book because he does something that a friend or a parent would not do. He loves Lennie more that a brother or son. George killing Lennie is an act of valour because he has to kill who he loves to save him from a torturous lyncing. George's testament to Lennie is not helping him live and getting him out of trouble. His testament is ending Lennie’s life.
Lennie is principal character in Of
Mice and Men. He has a huge, intimating body yet the brain of a child.
Without George, Lennie could not survive in society. He does not understand many things people say and does not know how to respond. His childlike innocence makes him defenceless in most situations. However, Lennie is a constant in Of Mice and Men as his characteristics o not change throughout the course of the novel and the audience is always
brought back to Lennie’s helplessness. John Steinbeck sets Lennie up to fail as the reader attaches and feels for Lennie and then Lennie is ripped from the reader. The audience feels for Lennie because he is similar to that abused animal on T.V that everyone is saddened by, as it never did anything to deserve that abuse and is practically defenceless. Lennie is that abused animal that gets stuck with the audience which makes the ending some much more dramatic. Also Lennie represents the American dream as he was the one that had the initial enthusiasm for the dream which got George and Candy on board. When Lennie dies the dream is over and everyone, including the reader has to face reality.
George is also a principal character along side Lennie. George’s character is greatly impacted by the character of Lennie. George has taken care of Lennie since Lennie’s aunt died and acted as his protector. Even though Lennie is more than a handful to take care of, George stays with him because he loves Lennie and knows full well that Lennie could not survive on his own. George does develop and change throughout this book. In the beginning he has this idea of a perfect world which he shares with Lennie and truly believes he can have this dream one day. George’s first real change is when he confesses that he has abused Lennie before but he stopped as he knew he was taking advantage of the weaker. This demonstrates George’s moral development and how he is beginning to realize that society has no morals and takes advantage of the weak. George however still holds on to his fantasy for Lennie. Throughout the novel Lennie is abused more and more which just gives George a real view of the world. Also Candy is weak and lets the boys kill his dog. George realizes then that the weak are killed off. George is then faced with the death of Lennie. He knows that he has to kill Lennie as the others will slaughter Lennie. However, as much as George has given up on the dream he retells the fantasy for Lennie as Lennie’s ignorance keeps him happy in his final seconds of life. George has developed from a dreamer to a realist as he knows the weak will never succeed in the world he lives in.