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Of Mice and Men

John Steinbeck

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Of Mice and Men | Discussion Questions 1 - 10


In Of Mice and Men, how are George and Lennie similar?

George and Lennie both value friendship, especially their companionship with each other. George says, "We got somebody to talk to that gives a damn about us." Lennie loves hearing George express this sentiment so much that he knows the words George is going to say before he says them. George and Lennie also share the dream of obtaining land and a place of their own. George says, "We're gonna have a little house and a couple of acres an' a cow." Like Lennie, George wants stability and a place where he belongs. Such a situation would provide them with freedom; they would not have to do what a boss tells them to do. Lennie says, "We could live offa the fatta the lan'."

In Chapter 1 of Of Mice and Men, how does Steinbeck use foreshadowing?

Readers learn that Lennie often accidentally kills the mice he likes to pet. George says that Lennie's Aunt Clare "stopped givin' 'em to ya. You always kill 'em." Lennie feels bad about this because he likes the mice and doesn't want to harm them. Lennie, therefore, is a person who can inadvertently do harm because he doesn't know his own strength. This dynamic foreshadows other events later in the novel. Also the reader learns that Lennie did something bad at his previous job. In Chapter 1, Steinbeck does not reveal exactly what this bad thing is, which makes it more mysterious and ominous. Perhaps this wrongdoing has something to do with Lennie accidentally causing harm. George also tells Lennie to hide by the pool if he does something bad at the ranch. George clearly fears that something bad will happen. By referring to the bad thing at Lennie's previous job and to the pool as a possible hideaway, the author foreshadows that something bad will indeed happen at the ranch.

In Chapter 1 of Of Mice and Men, what does the description "drank with long gulps, snorting into the water like a horse" say about Lennie's character?

This description suggests that Lennie does not think about how people see him. Most people would feel embarrassed if they were seen drinking "like a horse." George even reprimands Lennie for drinking so fast. This scolding does not embarrass Lennie. He is just happy about quenching his thirst. Also, the description implies that Lennie is probably not very intelligent. Because of this, Lennie doesn't care how he appears to people. By comparing Lennie to a horse, Steinbeck suggests that Lennie has a strong connection with animals. This connection is reinforced later, when the reader learns that Lennie likes to pet soft animals.

In the fourth paragraph of Chapter 1 in Of Mice and Men, how does Steinbeck suggest a bond between George and Lennie?

Even when George and Lennie walk in the open, they walk close together, suggesting some kind of connection between them. George and Lennie are dressed almost identically: They each wear denim pants, denim coats with brass buttons, and "black, shapeless hats." Each carries a blanket roll in exactly the same manner, "slung over their shoulders." Such similarities suggest the two men have shared experiences. The reader might take this resemblance even further by considering how the image of the two walking down the path suggests a child imitating his or her parent. This type of imitation is reinforced later in the chapter, when Lennie imitates the way George sits. The two men described in paragraph four, therefore, have some type of close bond, which will be revealed later on in more detail.

In Chapter 1 in Of Mice and Men, how are Lennie and George similar to members of a family?

Like close members of a family, George and Lennie have similar habits and ways of thinking. George knows immediately that Lennie is hiding a mouse in his pocket because Lennie has done it before. He even refers back to Lennie's Aunt Clara, who used to give him mice to pet. George and Lennie share stories that they have often told before. Lennie is so familiar with these stories that he knows them by heart. George and Lennie have a dream that is similar to the dreams many families have: They want a house of their own with a garden and plenty of food. George and Lennie are also devoted to each other and look out for each other. As Lennie says, "I got you to look after me, and you got me to look after you." Another way the two are shown to be close is when George thinks aloud about life without Lennie. He later regrets it, but Lennie seems unfazed by George's speculation. The exchange is similar to the banter family members often have, which frequently contains hurtful comments that are overlooked because of the deep affection the members hold for one another.

In Chapter 1 in Of Mice and Men, what mood does Steinbeck convey in the first two paragraphs?

Steinbeck conveys a mood of tranquil remoteness from human life. The author describes a lot of activity in the pool area, including lizards skittering, rabbits coming out of the brush, and raccoons making tracks. This activity seems harmonious and peaceful. This sense of calm remoteness is accentuated by the traces of human activity, such as a path "beaten hard by tramps" and a limb "worn smooth by men who have sat on it." Human activity has left a mark, but it seems to blend in with the environment instead of disturbing it. This sense of remoteness makes the pool seem like a safe haven. No wonder George instructs Lennie to hide here if he gets into trouble.

How does Steinbeck develop George's character in Chapter 2 in Of Mice and Men?

Steinbeck shows that George mistrusts authority figures. When Candy shows George where he will sleep in the bunkhouse, George notices a can of insect repellant and suspects that the mattress is infested with bugs. He immediately suspects that someone is trying to take advantage of him, and he gets angry at Candy: "George was working up a slow anger." George settles down only after extensive reassurances from Candy and his own close inspection of the bed. Later in the chapter George becomes irritated by Curley, a bully who uses his authority as the boss's son to pick on people. George obviously hates this type of attitude. George says, "I'm scared I'm gonna tangle with that bastard myself. I hate his guts."

In Chapter 2 in Of Mice and Men, what does the boss's suspicion of George say about the work environment at ranches?

The boss is suspicious because he suspects George of taking advantage of Lennie by taking some of his pay. These suspicions imply that most migrant workers just look out for themselves and that when one worker shows such strong friendship toward another, it's likely because he has selfish or dishonest motives and is trying to take advantage of him. Ranches, therefore, seem to be work environments where bosses expect selfish motives from workers and workers expect selfish motives from one another. Later in the chapter, Slim also expresses surprise that George and Lennie travel together, a reaction that reinforces this interpretation of the work environment.

When George and Lennie first meet Curley in Chapter 2 in Of Mice and Men, what does George learn about him, and what do his feelings about Curley foreshadow?

Some of what George learns can be seen by anyone. Curley is of short stature and, as a result, feels threatened by large men. So Curley likes to pick fights with big guys. Right away George knows that huge Lennie is an easy target. Other things that George learns come from talking with Curley. Curley is aggressive with his words as well as his posture. Finally George learns some facts about Curley from Candy that cause him to hate Curley and his pugnacious attitude even more. Because of his strong animosity toward Curley, George could easily add fuel to the fire Curley carries inside himself to fight big men. George is fully aware of this volatile situation. He warns Lennie about Curley: "You try to keep away from him, will you? Don't never speak to him."

What does the sentence "he moved with a majesty achieved only by royalty and master craftsmen" say about Slim's character in Chapter 2 in Of Mice and Men?

The phrase moved with a majesty implies that Slim is a confident man who carries himself with ease and assurance. The phrase achieved only by royalty indicates that Slim is highly respected by other workers and has a high position at the ranch. Therefore the boss and Curley also most likely have a strong respect for Slim. The phrase master craftsmen provides a reason for the workers' respect: Slim is highly skilled at a difficult job; namely, being a jerkline skinner. Slim can drive "ten, sixteen, even twenty mules with a single line" and is very accurate with a whip.

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