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The book takes place near Steinbeck's hometown in Depression-era California. Lennie and George are migrant workers who have to skip from farm to farm because Lenny has once again gotten them in trouble.
Most of Chapter 1 involves them walking the sleepy country roads of agricultural California on their way to their next job, as the character development takes place and we find out more about who both of them are. After a long bus ride (which ends too quickly) they finally end up camping near a stream for the night.
The setting in the first chapter in John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men will prove to be very important later on in the novella. After George and Lennie flee Weed, they take a bus to Salinas, California. They are dropped off far from the farm in which they are to report to work, and so they must camp out for the night on the banks of the Salinas River. Steinbeck's rich description of the setting in the first chapter is very explicitly beautiful, and really sets up the animal imagery that is evident throughout the text. In the morning, the two main characters have to walk several miles in order to get to their next farm job. They are chastised by their new boss for arriving later than they were expected.
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