Quote: We got a future. We got somebody to talk to that gives a damn about us. We don’t have to sit in no bar room blowin’ in our jack jus’ because we got no place else to go. If them other guys gets in jail they can rot for all anybody gives a damn. But not us (15).
Analysis: George explains to Lennie why their life is so good in comparison to others and proclaims the virtue of friendship. George holds true to his description of friendship, despite the occasional outburst, by continually getting Lennie out of trouble. It is also apparent that anyone attempting to harm George would receive injury at the hands of Lennie, exemplified by the conversation between Lennie and Crooks in chapter 4.
Quote: Well, I never seen one guy take so much trouble for another guy. I just like to know what your interest is (25).
Analysis: The boss observes George’s care of Lennie and suspects George of chicanery. This passage highlights the bond between George and Lennie in addition to the rarity of such a bond, so rare that it causes the boss to suspect wrong-doing on George’s part.
Quote: S’pose you didn’t have nobody. S’pose you couldn’t go into the bunk house and play rummy ‘cause you was black. How’d you like that? S’pose you had to sit out here an’ read books. Sure you could play horseshoes till it got dark, but then you got to read books. Books ain’t no good. 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 (80).
Analysis: Crooks explains to Lennie the effects of loneliness. This passage highlights the need for companionship and the oppressive nature of Crooks’ society. Although most of the men have no true friends, they at least get to play cards and associate with others. Lennie, because of the color of his skin and his friendship with George, cannot possibly understand Crooks’ plight. George chooses to kill Lennie at the novel’s end, realizing that Lennie could not stand the loneliness of being locked up in a prison or an asylum.
Quote: Whatever we ain’t got, that’s what you want… if I was alone I could live so easy. I could go get a job an’ work, an no trouble. No mess at all, and when the end of the month come I could take my fifty bucks and go into town and get whatever I want (11-12).
Analysis: George chastises Lennie for asking for ketchup. He talks about all the things he could have if Lennie weren’t around. Although true, these things that George extols as the good life are not as valuable as his friendship with Lennie; otherwise, he would have left him long ago.
Quote: If I catch any one man, and he’s alone, I get along fine with him. But just let two of the guys get together an’ you won’t talk. Jus’ nothing but mad. You’re all scared of each other, that’s what. Ever’ one of you’s scared the rest is goin’ to get something on you (85).
Analysis: Curley’s wife’s declaration regarding the men on the ranch highlight the survival of the fittest theme in the novel. Despite the so-called camaraderie that exists on the ranch, everybody’s looking for dirt on someone else. It also emphasizes the limited vision of the workers–instead of banding together to fight a common enemy, they turn on each other when times get tough.
Quote: You seen what they done to my dog tonight? They says he wasn’t no good to himself nor nobody else. When they can me here I wisht somebody’d shoot me. But they won’t do nothing like that. I won’t have no place to go, an’ I can’t get no more jobs (60).
Analysis: Candy laments his fate. He understand his bleak future, which is why he jumps at the chance to help George and Lennie get their farm and work on it and why he’s so disappointed when the dream dies.
Quote: I seen hunderds of men come by on the road an’ on the ranches, with their bindles on their back an’ that same damn thing in their heads. Hunderds of them. They come, an’ they quit an’ go on; an’ every damn one of ‘em’s got a little piece of land in his head. An’ never a damn one of ‘em ever gets it. Just like heaven. Everybody 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 (81).
Analysis: Crooks comments on Lennie and George’s dream and foresees their eventual disappointment. Crooks negativity goes beyond merely doubting George and Lennie’s dream, but can be extended as a comment on the death of the American Dream.
Quote: I think I knowed from the very first. I think I knowed we’d never do her. He usta like to hear about it so much I got to thinking maybe we would (103).
Analysis: George sounds like a defeated man. He sees no reason to keep trying now that Lennie is gone.
Because it deals with society’s rabble, Of Mice and Men uses language that may not be appropriate for all audiences. For a justification of teaching Of Mice and Men to high school students along with ideas for teachers, follow the link.
Steinbeck, John. Of Mice and Men. New York: Penguin Group. 1994.
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.