The book is centered around two main characters, George and Lennie, who are itinerant workers; people who move from place to place whilst working. They start working on Soledad (spanish for ‘solitude’) ranch. Throughout the story, George and Lennie meet other characters which show the difficult life of living on a ranch.
Lennie is a large man with learning difficulties whereas George is a small, intelligent man who tries to look after him. As the story progresses, it is clear that Lennie doesn’t understand the power of his strength and what damage it can cause.
George and Lennie’s dream is to one day own a ranch for themselves. However, it would be made impossible as Lennie accidentally kills a woman and George has to kill Lennie before he gets caught.
There are three main themes in the novel. Dreams, loneliness, and companionship. Their plan to own their own farm highlights the theme of dreams, which involves other characters too. This theme is linked to the ‘American Dream’ where it’s possible to achieve success and improve their lives through hard work.
There is a contrast of themes with George and Lennie’s companionship and the loneliness experienced by characters such as Curley’s wife, Crooks, and Candy. The unusualness of the main friendship is shown throughout the novel, particularly through the contrast of the other characters who are isolated and lonely. However, George becomes lonely at the end of the story as Lennie is dead.
Some context overview includes being set during The Great Depression, a period of significant poverty and unemployment after 1929. At the peak of the Great Depression, it is thought that between 13 million and 15 million people in the USA were unemployed. More context involves itinerant workers and Racism during the Great Depression.
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