Boekverslag : John Steinbeck - Of Mice And Men
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Of Mice and Men


John Steinbeck


Heinemann Educational Books London

Year of first print


Number of pages


Number of chapters


Kind of story

Short story/novel

Explain the title

The title is linked to a Robert Burns poem, 'to a mouse'. In this poem a mouse has built a nest in which it can survive the winter. But the farmer destroys it. The same is the case with Lennie's plans for his future.

The story is also about a relationship between a man and animals and between two very different men.

Background Information

Titles of some other works by the same author: Cup of Gold, The Grapes of Wrath, East of Eden.


The simple minded Lennie, together with his protecting friend George travels from ranch to ranch to get work. Lennie is a simple-minded guy, who likes to pet soft things. This gives some problems, because he is very big and strong and when he pets animals like mice an rabbits they die because he breaks there necks: At there last address, in Weed, they just wanted to feel this red dress. The girl didn't like this and she squawked this got Lennie so mixed up that he held on, because he was so scared that this was the only thing he could do. As soon as the girl tells the guys in Weed, they start a party out to lynch Lennie. They go to another ranch; on their way to next ranch they pass by a river where they take a sleep and choose it as a place to hide in case that might be necessary.

On there new address it is in the beginning different. Lennie isn't smart, but he can take orders and work very hard. Candy, one of the ranchmen has an old dog that stinks enormously. Slim the jerkline skinner has also a dog, who got 9 pups. So they want old Candy to shoot his dog and he can get than a pup from slim. Candy doesn’t want to do that, but Carlson can, also a ranch worker.

As Lennie likes to pet soft animals, but always kills them because he pets too hard, he arranges Lennie to get one of the puppies from Slim. But he may not pet it until a couple of weeks, because they're too little now. But Lennie can't wait and pets the dog. When the dog dies, Lennie is panic-stricken. George has told him that they are gonna get a little house with some land with cows and pigs and rabbits. George also told Lennie that he is going to tend those rabbits. If he isn't going to do wrong things. Now he killed the little pup, he thinks that George won't let him tend the rabbits.

Curley - son of the boss, an unpleasant man, comes along to look for his wife and talks to the new comers. Lennie has been instructed by George to let George do all of the talking. Curley's son doesn’t like that; he wants to be obeyed by the people at the farm exactly as he says. Curley's wife, who gives the eye to everybody, also comes along looking for her husband.

Candy, George and Lennie secretly agree to buy a quiet place to live that George knows to be for sale. There Lennie can tend the rabbits and the three men can live, as they want.

On Saturday night most of the man, including George go out in town. Lennie enters the room of Crooks, the one and only Negro who lives rather lonely on the range. They start a conversation and Lennie tells the secret: he will be able to tend the rabbits. Also Curley's wife comes along and makes the Negro clear that he has no rights; even receiving Lennie in his room is not allowed.

On Sunday afternoon most men are outside, enjoying themselves. Lennie, despite the rule not to touch the puppies, plays with one of them. He of course accidentally kills the animal. As he sits there Curley’s wife comes along and during their talking she lets Lennie feel her hair. Lennie does so, but to rough, Curley’s wife gets frightened, Lennie panics and the result is that he breaks her neck. He goes to the place near the river where he has been said to hide in case of problems.

After a while the men come in and discover the dead body. They understand that Lennie has killed the woman and start a search to revenge. George takes Carlson's Luger gun but tells nobody, so that the others think Lennie has stolen the gun before leaving the ranch. George finds Lennie near the river and while talking about the rabbits that they will have at their new house, he shoots him in the neck. The other men consider George as a courageous man who has captured an armed killer.


The (non-) survival of a simple minded character that has to live on various ranches.

Friendship, the American dream.


List of (main) characters and description of them:

1) Lennie, a simple-minded guy, but very big and strong. He likes to pet soft things.

2) George, he looks after Lennie and tries to keep him out of trouble.

3) The people working on the ranch: Candy, Crooks, Curley, Carlson, Curley’s wife

Story Telling

Style: Easy language, some words in dialogues are dialect, abbreviated and difficult to read.

The author wants to learn the reader that even if the future looks nice, there can always happen things that might change the situation.

Time and space

Time laps: A few days.

In what time or period is the story situated: In the thirties.

There are a few flashbacks and flashforwards, so it is not a totally continuing story.


Narrative Technique: The story is told in the third person, with sometimes a dialogue between the characters. The author knows everything that is happening and he knows the feelings of the characters. The effect of this is that the story is more exciting.

What did you think of the book?

I have read this book with much pleasure, because it describes the contrasts: stupid - clever and black - white in a funny way. It's also funny to read how Crooks tells his problems to Lennie, because he listens, that Lennie doesn't understand the problems doesn't matter.
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