Of Mice and Men

1937 novella by John Steinbeck

Of Mice and Men is a novella (short novel) written by John Steinbeck. It was published in 1937. The story is a tragedy about two ranch workers called George Milton and Lennie Small. It takes place in the 1930s, in California, United States.

The book is based on Steinbeck's experiences of being a ranch worker. The title of the book is taken from a poem by Robert Burns called "To a Mouse". When the novella was published, it was very popular and it became a best seller. It was chosen by the Book-of-the-Month Club. Of Mice and Men is often banned in schools because of the bad language, racism, questionable morality and violence. It is on the American Library Association's list of the Most Challenged Books of the 21st Century.


  • Lennie Small - a main character who likes soft, pretty things like mice. Sometimes Lennie gets into trouble, and he needs someone to take care of him.
  • George Milton - the other main character, takes care of Lennie like a brother. Lennie makes George's life difficult. When Lennie gets into trouble on a farm, George must decide how to help him. Lennie accidentally hurts a woman and George decides he must save Lennie before the other workers can kill them.
  • Curley - the son of the boss, a mean man who is newly married. He is very jealous and protective of his wife. He takes an instant dislike to Lennie.
  • Slim - a tall man who is the driver of a mule team, and everybody takes his opinion to heart. He is the only person who Curley respects.
  • Candy is an old man with only one hand. Candy also offers to work for Lennie and George if and when they get their own land.
  • Aunt Clara - who used to take care of Lennie. She has died before the story begins. She is a background character who is mentioned in the story, but of no special importance.
  • Crooks - a stable worker, called the stablebuck. He is the only African-American on the farm and the other workers discriminate against him. He has to sleep by himself. He has been kicked by a horse, and his back has been painfully injured.
  • Curley's wife - a lonely and flirtatious "scarlet woman" is the only character in the story without a name. This shows her purpose in the story: Steinbeck said that she is "hot."[1]
  • Carlson - the cynical ranch worker who serves as an example of someone who went 'mean'. He also convinces Candy to allow him to kill Candy's dog which serves as an important plot piece for the novella's ending.



Of Mice and Men is a story about friendship and loneliness. It also talks about the American Dream: the hope that in America, anyone can become rich or famous if they work hard.



Of Mice and Men was made into a movie several times, the first in 1939, only two years after the publication of the novel. This version of Of Mice and Men stars Lon Chaney Jr. as Lennie, Burgess Meredith as George, and was directed by Lewis Milestone.[2] It was nominated for four Oscars.[2] In 1981 it was made into a TV movie. This version stars Randy Quaid as Lennie, Robert Blake as George, Ted Neeley as Curley, and was directed by Reza Badiyi.[3] The most recent movie version of Of Mice and Men (1992) was directed by Gary Sinise (who also played the part of George). He was nominated for the Palme d'Or at Cannes.[4] The role of Lennie, was played by John Malkovich. Both men had played these roles on stage in the 1980 Steppenwolf Theatre Company production.[5]


  1. Parini, Jay (27 September 1992), "FILM; Of Bindlestiffs, Bad Times, Mice and Men", The New York Times (published 1992-09-27), retrieved 2013-02-06
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Of Mice and Men (1939)". Internet Movie Database Inc. 1990–2007. Retrieved 2013-02-06.
  3. "Of Mice and Men (1981)". Internet Movie Database Inc. 1990–2007. Retrieved 2013-02-06.
  4. "Of Mice and Men (1992)". Internet Movie Database Inc. 1990–2007. Retrieved 2013-02-06.
  5. "Of Mice and Men (1992)". Rotten Tomatoes / IGN Entertainment, Inc. 1998–2007. Retrieved 2013-02-06.