Of Mice and Men
by John Steinbeck

The story itself is about obtaining the “American Dream” during the Great Depression in the 1930s. At this time, laborers desire to attain their own land and become self-sufficient. During this time, work was difficult to acquire and luxury was not something frequently found. Of Mice and Men also involves friendship, loyalty and loneliness. Each character in his or her own way represents and emulates one or more of these themes.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, first takes place by the Salinas River near Soledad, California. The two main characters, George Milton and Lennie Small are migrant workers looking for work on a ranch not too far away. The author introduces the main characters by describing them in great detail. Steinbeck refers to both their actions and physical appearances so the reader can understand the characters’ motives. Furthermore, Steinbeck also describes the relationship and dynamic between George and Lennie. Lennie is described as a slower individual who has a mind like a child. Although the men are best friends, George is more of a caretaker for Lennie. As a result, George finds Lennie to be a nuisance because he constantly needs to look after him. For example, George and Lennie are making their way to Weed, California due to a “misunderstanding” back home. Since Lennie is obsessed with touching soft things, he was accused of rape when he touched a woman’s dress. When George and Lennie settle down for the night, George informs Lennie that if anything were to go wrong, they should meet at the clearing and Lennie is to hide in the brush.

Once the men reach the ranch in Weed, Steinbeck introduces more characters:

  • Curley
  • Curley’s wife
  • Candy
  • Carlson
  • The Boss
  • Crooks
  • Whit

The characters mentioned above all play a large role in the development of the plot. Once George and Lennie reach the ranch, Curley immediately has a problem with Lennie which eventually leads to a fight. Curley’s wife also causes mischief for herself and others because of her flirtatious actions around the other ranchmen. The other characters reveal the themes at full length through their actions. Towards the end, Lennie encounters a similar problem as before when he accidentally kills Curley’s wife when he touches her hair. As a result, Lennie runs to the hiding spot to wait for George. However, George must make a difficult decision once he reaches Lennie.

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Of Mice and Men vocabulary words.

DOK Questions

DOK 1 (Understand): Provide the character traits for Lennie and George.

DOK 2 (Apply): What does Candy mean by the statement, "Curley's pretty handy?"

DOK 3 (Analyze): Describe the conflicts that exist between one of the options below:

  • Crooks vs. Society
  • Curley vs. Lennie
  • George vs. Lennie
  • George vs. himself

You must include two examples of textual evidence that support your reasoning. You must also create a solution for the conflict you present.  Again, include 1-2 text details in your solution.

DOK 4 (Create): Interview a caregiver about the challenges they face.  Compare his or her experience to that of George's.  Describe how the interviewee and George are similar and different.

Common Core State Standard:


Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including analogies or allusions to other texts.

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