Of Mice and Men

by: John Steinbeck

Key Facts

full title  · Of Mice and Men

author  · John Steinbeck

type of work  · Novella

genre  · Fiction; tragedy

language · English

time and place written  · Mid-1930s; Pacific Grove and Los Gatos ranch, California

date of first publication  · 1937

publisher  · Covici, Friede, Inc.

narrator  · Third-person omniscient

climax  · Lennie accidentally kills Curley’s wife in the barn

protagonists  · George and Lennie

antagonists  · Curley; society; the cruel, predatory nature of human life

setting (time)  · 1930s

setting (place)  · South of Soledad, California

point of view  · The story is told from the point of view of a third-person omniscient narrator, who can access the point of view of any character as required by the narrative.

falling action  · Lennie runs away from the barn; the men return and find Curley’s wife dead; Curley leads a mob of men to search for and kill Lennie; George finds Lennie in the clearing and, while retelling the story of life on their farm, shoots him in the back of the head.

tense  · Past

foreshadowing  · Lennie petting the dead mouse, Lennie being run out of Weed for the incident involving the girl in the red dress, and Lennie killing his puppy—all of which anticipate Lennie accidentally killing Curley’s wife; the death of Candy’s dog, which anticipates the death of Lennie; Candy’s regret that he didn’t kill his old dog himself, which anticipates George’s decision to shoot Lennie

tone · Sentimental, tragic, doomed, fatalistic, rustic, moralistic, comic

themes  · The predatory nature of human existence; the importance of fraternity and idealized relationships between men; the impossibility of the American Dream; the destructive imbalance of social power structures in American society

motifs  · The corrupting power of female sexuality; strength and weakness; loneliness and companionship

symbols  · The clearing in the woods; Lennie and George’s farm; mice; Candy’s dog; the heron that plucks water snakes from the stream; Curley’s boots; Lennie’s puppy


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