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Main Characters


Main Characters

George Milton

small, quick, dark of face and eyes, restless

Lennie Small

huge, shapeless, pale eyes, slow moving


old swamper, missing one hand


previous bunkhouse occupant, overly clean

The Boss

owner of a ranch below Soledad


negro stable buck, had a back injury


fought with Crooks at earlier Christmas party


Boss' son, short, once a welterweight boxer


jerkline skinner, local authority

Carlson (Carl)

a ranchhand

Curley's wife

a tart, tease


a young laborer at the ranch

Bill Tenner

former pea cultivator operator at the ranch


owns a house in town; two-fifty a go


owns another house; three bucks

Al Wilts

deputy sheriff in Soledad

Aunt Clara

Lennie's dead aunt, from his Auburn childhood

Chapter Summary

Steinbeck's chapters are unnumbered; shown here are page numbers to the penguin edition

Hot Thursday late afternoon. George and Lennie spend the night by the Salinas River, a few miles south of Soledad. They plan to start work the next day and dream of a future farm where Lennie can tend rabbits.

Friday morning at the bunkhouse. George and Lennie sign up to buck barley. Curley tries to pick a fight with Lennie. Candy tells George Curley's wife is a tart. George reminds Lennie where to hide if there's trouble. They meet Curley's wife, Slim and Carlson. Lennie wants one of Slim's dog Lulu's pups.

Friday evening. George tells Slim Lennie grabbed a red-dressed girl in Weed. Lennie gets a pup. Carlson shoots Candy's old dog with his Luger. Slim goes to the barn to treat a horse. While the rest go to see if Slim's with Curley or Curley's wife, Candy commits his $350 to George and Lennie's $600 dream. When everyone returns, Curley beats on Lennie until George tells Lennie to "get him." Lennie crushes Curley's hand. Slim orders Curley to say it was a machine accident.

Saturday night at Crook's room in the barn. All but Candy and Lennie go to town. Lennie drops in on Crooks who philosophizes about companionship. Candy drops by and talks of their dreams. Curley's wife shows up and insults them all. Candy brags of their ranch. She infers that Lennie is the machine which got Curley. She threatens Crooks with a lynching. George arrives and all leave Crooks' room.

Sunday afternoon. While the rest play horseshoes, Lenny kills his puppy in the barn. Curley's wife shows up. Lennie explains his fondness for soft things, and she encourages him to stroke her hair. When she wants him to stop he breaks her neck out of fear. Candy finds her and brings George. When the men find out Curley goes for his shotgun. Carlson goes for his Luger, but it's missing and he assumes Lennie took it. Whit is sent to Soledad for Al Wilt. Candy stays with the body while all go after Lennie.

Late afternoon. Lennie comes to the river. His dead Aunt Clara appears and scolds him. A huge imaginary rabbit tells him George will leave him. George shows up and reassures Lennie. While they talk of their dream, George puts the Luger to the base of Lennie's skull and fires. When they see Lennie everyone assumes George took the gun from him and shot him. Slim says "You hadda, George," and takes him for a drink


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