Of Mice and Men, Essential Revision Notes

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Table of Contents

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck 4

Context 4

The History of Migrant Farmers in California 4

Summary 6

Characters 8

Lennie 8

George 8

Candy 8

Curley’s wife 8

Crooks 8

Curley 9

Slim 9

Carlson 9

The Boss 9

Aunt Clara 9

Whit 9

Themes and Symbols 10

Themes 10

The Predatory Nature of Human Existence 10

Fraternity and the Idealized Male Friendship 10

The Impossibility of the American Dream 11

Symbols 11

George and Lennie’s Farm 11

Lennie’s Puppy 11

Candy’s Dog 12

Important Quotations Explained 12

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Context

John Steinbeck was born in 1902 in Salinas, California, a region that became the setting for much of his fiction, including Of Mice and Men. As a teenager, he spent his summers working as a hired hand on neighbouring ranches, where his experiences of rural California and its people impressed him deeply. In 1919, he enrolled at Stanford University, where he studied intermittently for the next six years before finally leaving without having earned a degree. For the next five years, he worked as a reporter and then as caretaker for a Lake Tahoe estate while he completed his first novel, an adventure story called Cup of Gold, which was published in 1929. Critical and commercial success did not come for another six years, when Tortilla Flat was published in 1935, at which point Steinbeck was finally able to support himself entirely with his writing.

In his acceptance speech for the 1962 Nobel Prize in literature, Steinbeck said:

. . . the writer is delegated to declare and to celebrate man’s proven capacity for greatness of heart and spirit – for gallantry in defeat, for courage, compassion and love. In the endless war against weakness and despair, these are the bright rally flags of hope and of emulation. I hold that a writer who does not passionately believe in the perfectibility of man has no dedication nor any membership in literature.

Steinbeck’s best-known works...

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