large, lumbering, childlike migrant worker. Due to his mild mental
disability, Lennie completely depends upon George, his friend and
traveling companion, for guidance and protection. The two men share
a vision of a farm that they will own together, a vision that Lennie believes
in wholeheartedly. Gentle and kind, Lennie nevertheless does not
understand his own strength. His love of petting soft things, such
as small animals, dresses, and people’s hair, leads to disaster.
in-depth analysis of Lennie.
small, wiry, quick-witted man who travels with, and cares for, Lennie.
Although he frequently speaks of how much better his life would
be without his caretaking responsibilities, George is obviously
devoted to Lennie. George’s behavior is motivated by the desire
to protect Lennie and, eventually, deliver them both to the farm
of their dreams. Though George is the source of the often-told
story of life on their future farm, it is Lennie’s childlike faith
that enables George to actually believe his account of their future.
in-depth analysis of George.
aging ranch handyman, Candy lost his hand in an accident and worries
about his future on the ranch. Fearing that his age is making him
useless, he seizes on George’s description of the farm he and Lennie
will have, offering his life’s savings if he can join George and Lennie
in owning the land. The fate of Candy’s ancient dog, which Carlson
shoots in the back of the head in an alleged act of mercy, foreshadows
the manner of Lennie’s death.
in-depth analysis of Candy.
only female character in the story, Curley’s wife is never given
a name and is only mentioned in reference to her husband. The
men on the farm refer to her as a “tramp,” a “tart,” and a “looloo.”
Dressed in fancy, feathered red shoes, she represents the temptation
of female sexuality in a male-dominated world. Steinbeck depicts
Curley’s wife not as a villain, but rather as a victim. Like the
ranch-hands, she is desperately lonely and has broken dreams of
a better life.
in-depth analysis of Curley’s wife.
the black stable-hand, gets his name from his crooked back. Proud,
bitter, and caustically funny, he
is isolated from the other men because of the color of his skin.
Despite himself, Crooks becomes fond of Lennie, and though he derisively
claims to have seen countless men following empty dreams of buying
their own land, he asks Lennie if he can go with them and hoe in
in-depth analysis of Crooks.
boss’s son, Curley wears high-heeled boots to distinguish himself
from the field hands. Rumored to be a champion prizefighter, he
is a confrontational, mean-spirited, and aggressive young man who
seeks to compensate for his small stature by picking fights with larger
men. Recently married, Curley is plagued with jealous suspicions
and is extremely possessive of his flirtatious young wife.
highly skilled mule driver and the acknowledged “prince” of the
ranch, Slim is the only character who seems to be at peace with
himself. The other characters often look to Slim for advice. For
instance, only after Slim agrees that Candy should put his decrepit
dog out of its misery does the old man agree to let Carlson shoot
it. A quiet, insightful man, Slim alone understands the nature of
the bond between George and Lennie, and comforts George at the book’s
ranch-hand, Carlson complains bitterly about Candy’s old, smelly
dog. He convinces Candy to put the dog out of its misery. When Candy
finally agrees, Carlson promises to execute the task without causing the
animal any suffering. Later, George uses Carlson’s gun to shoot
stocky, well-dressed man in charge of the ranch, and Curley’s father.
He is never named and appears only once, but seems to be a fair-minded
man. Candy happily reports that the boss once delivered a gallon of whiskey
to the ranch-hands on Christmas Day.
aunt, who cared for him until her death, does not actually appear
in the work except at the end, as a vision chastising Lennie for
causing trouble for George. By all accounts, she was a kind, patient
woman who took good care of Lennie and gave him plenty of
mice to pet.