Summary:
Of Mice and Men is the story of George and Lennie, two migrant workers who travel together, as they go to work on as ranch hands on a new ranch. The two men are chasing the idea of the American Dream; they want to someday own their own ranch that would be theirs. At the ranch, the George and Lennie meet up with a variety of interesting characters as they try to plan how they will achieve their dream. Candy, an the old swamper at the ranch, jumps on the bandwagon to chase the ideal lifestyle of the dream ranch, but the real world has unexpected twists in store for George, Lennie, and the whole gang which proves that even the best laid schemes can go astray because of uncontrollable aspects of life.

Major Characters:

  • George- George is the traveling companion of Lennie. The two travel together from place to place and end up working at a ranch. George faces some big challenges as he tries to look out for Lennie, balance realism versus a dream world, and different decisions based off of Lennie.
  • Lennie- Lennie is a mentally retarded worker who travels with George. Lennie often gets into circumstances that get him unintentionally into trouble, which leads to his demise.
  • Candy- The swamper at the ranch. He loses companionship when his dog is killed by the other ranch hands, but he quickly jumps on board with the idea of the dream ranch.
  • Crooks- The black stable buck at the ranch. He is isolated at the ranch because of his race, but opens up to Lennie about the longing for companionship. At first he laughs at the idea of the dream ranch, then he temporarily wants to be part of the dream ranch, but eventually drops the idea as he is brought back down to earth.
  • Slim- Slim is the skinner at the ranch and is looked up to by all the other ranch hands. He is wise and trustworthy, and George confides everything about he and Lennie to Slim. Slim just seems to understand George and his actions towards Lennie.
  • Curley- The boss's son, he immediately takes a disliking to Lennie because he is a big guy, and he spends his time trying to make trouble. He is also always looking for his wife and assuming that the ranch hands would've seen her around.
  • Curley's Wife- A mischievous woman around the ranch. All the men avoid her because they do not want to get into trouble with Curley, but this causes her to be isolated from any relationships. She longs for somebody to talk to, but her pursuit of this leads her into trouble.

Likes and Dislikes:
I liked the book Of Mice and Men, especially as it balanced characters that you could relate to and understand as a realistic side, but it also held a hint of romanticism and the ever present dream of the perfect life. The story line was interesting and kept my attention, but I wasn't too fond of the ending because I thought it just kind of left the storyline hanging with a conclusion that wasn't very conclusive.

What can we learn from reading this book?
Of Mice and Men can teach us that life is not always as perfect as it seems or as perfect as we plan it out to be. Even the best planned out schemes can be thrown off by forces we can't control, and we need to learn to accept that and go with the flow of life. We also need to learn how to keep a balance of realism and romanticism in our everyday lives because we need to have a dream to chase, but we also must be realistic and not get too caught up in unreal expectations of the future.

Essential Questions:

  • What is meant by the American Dream?
    • The American Dream is and idealistic view of the perfect life. It includes a perfect job that allows you to provide everything you and your family need, the picture perfect home with a white picket fence, and a happy family. It's all about having the opportunities available to make your dreams come true and to be successful.
  • Is the American Dream still a viable element today?
    • The American Dream is still alive today. When people think about the question "Where do I want to be in 10 years?" they often picture the same image of a family, a house, and a perfect job, but I think today people want to reach the dream, but may not be willing or realize all the effort that must be put forth in order to reach this goal.
  • Is the American Dream a destructive or empowering force, or a combination of both?
    • I think the American Dream is both a destructive and an empowering force. It gives people a dream to shoot for and a goal they would like to meet and work towards, but it's also destructive because people who don't reach this picture-perfect life may see themselves as failures and give up.
  • What constitutes a genuine friendship?
    • A genuine friendship is a relationship of both give and take. In order to have a real friendship the two people must truly care about the well-being of their friend. It's all about being there when the other person needs you and having somebody to rely on during hard and trying times.