Learn about George, Lennie and other characters.
- George is a small, quick-witted, migrant worker who travels with his friend Lennie. He speaks of how much better his life would be without Lennie, but only does so in anger. George represents the working man and his struggle to rise above his harsh circumstances. George needs to blame somebody for his mediocre life; the truth of his mediocrity, however, lies in his enjoyment of alcohol and prostitutes, vices that prevent him from ever raising enough money to finance his dream of owning his own farm. George from Of Mice and Men, despite his shortcomings, acts admirably towards his helpless friend.
- Lennie is big and dumb. His childlike innocence allows him to take an active role in George’s dream of owning a farm. Lennie loves soft things and animals, which he accidentally kills because of his strength. His size combined with his mental handicap frequently put him and George in difficult situations. Lennie from Of Mice and Men remains one of literature’s most memorable characters.
- Curley is the confrontational, mean-spirited boss’s son who picks on Lennie (until Lennie crushes his hand in a fight). Curley symbolizes the bullying of the weak by the privileged. He suffers from little-man’s syndrome. If Curley from Of Mice and Men were alive today, he’d have the biggest truck, biggest dog, and biggest mouth on the block. Everybody would hate him and secretly make fun of him behind his back.
- Curley’s wife is a floozy who dreams of becoming a movie star. She symbolizes the objectification of women, broken dreams, and sexual temptation. Characters in the novel refer to her as a tart and a tramp. Steinbeck, however, portrays her as more of a victim than a vixen.
- Candy is an old ranch hand who has outlived his usefulness. He latches on to George and Lennie’s dream of owning their own farm and offers to donate his life saving to become a part of it. Candy from Of Mice and Men symbolizes the mass of men who cannot retire but are no longer able to work.
- Crooks is the old stable hand. The color of his skin prevents him from enjoying the companionship of the other ranch hands. Lennie shows up in his room uninvited and Crooks frightens him into thinking George isn’t coming back. He continues until Lennie threatens to hurt him. Crooks is intrigued by Lennie’s plan to own a farm until Curley’s wife enters and breaks his spirit.
- Slim is a respected mule-driver. Ranch workers go to him for advice.
- Carlson shoots Candy’s dog and it’s his gun that George uses to shoot Lennie.
This post is part of the series: Of Mice and Men Study Guide
Avoid the bullet in the back of the head on test day with this Of Mice and Men study guide.