George Milton and Lennie Small share a dream of one day settling down on their own land but they are facing the Great Depression, jobless and looking for work. George is a small dark man who is intelligent but lacks education and sees himself as Lennie’s protector. Lennie is the opposite of George, a giant of a man with a shapeless face, mentally impaired and with a habit of getting in trouble, being such a big strong individual. He loves animals, especially rabbits, and loves to pet them but in touching and petting them he always kills them. He carries a dead mouse in his pocket who he had accidently killed by stroking it.
They find work on a farm but must deal with the owner’s son, Curley, who is a small man who dislikes Lennie because of his large size. Curley’s wife is attractive and flirts with Lennie leading to more problems.
Lennie and George become friends with Candy, an older ranch hand, who has some money saved and offers to go in with them to buy a farm of their own. Another ranch hand learns of Lennie’s fondness for petting rabbits and since his dog recently had puppies he gives one to Lennie.
George goes into town leaving Lennie on the ranch. Lennie spends time with the other ranch hands but before long Curley’s wife finds them and flirts with all of them, especially Lennie. Later she meets him again telling him how lonely she is and about her desires to be a movie star. As they talk she learns of Lennie’s desires to pet rabbits and animals and offers to let him stroke her hair. With his enormous strength pressing on her scalp she screams scaring Lennie and he breaks her neck killing her.
When George returns Lennie has run away to a secret place. George finds him and they talk of their dreams and plans, now shattered forever: after talking for a while George takes out a gun and kills Lennie.
The story is published in 1937 during the Great Depression and moving from place to place to find work and associating with a variety of ranch hands was common.
“But Mouse, you are not alone, In proving foresight may be vain: The best laid schemes of mice and men Go often askew, And leave us nothing but grief and pain, For promised joy!…………………..”
“I got you to look after me, and you got me to look after you, and that's
“As happens sometimes, a moment settled and hovered and remained for much more than a moment. And sound stopped and movement stopped for much, much more than a moment.”
“A guy needs somebody―to be near him. A guy goes nuts if he ain't got nobody. Don't make no difference who the guy is, long's he's with you. I tell ya, I tell ya a guy gets too lonely an' he gets sick.”
“Guy don't need no sense to be a nice fella. Seems to me sometimes it jus' works the other way around. Take a real smart guy and he ain't hardly ever a nice fella.”
“His ear heard more than what was said to him, and his slow speech had overtones not of thought, but of understanding beyond thought.”
“Trouble with mice is you always kill 'em. ”
”Just like heaven. Ever’body wants a little piece of lan’. I read plenty of books out here. Nobody never gets to heaven, and nobody gets no land. It’s just in their head. They’re all the time talkin’ about it, but it’s jus’ in their head.”
“We know what we got, and we don't care whether you know it or not.