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Of Mice and Men opens with George and Lennie drinking from a shore. Steinbeck opens the story with a physical description of the land which is the Central Valley of California:
'A few miles south of Soledad,' the Salinas river winds through an idyllic scene of yellow sands, golden foothills, and deer that come to the shore to drink at night. It is in this setting that we first meet Steinbeck's two protagonists, George Milton and Lennie Small.
Gearge is Lennie's keeper. Lennie is mentally challenged and when his aunt dies, George begins to take care of Lennie. George is "small and quick, dark of face, with restless eyes and sharp, strong features."
Lennie is "his opposite, a huge man, shapeless of face, with large, pale eyes, with wide, sloping shoulders." They have just come from the town of Weed where Lennie had gotten into some sort of trouble. Weed is in Northern California. Because of Lennie's trouble, they are forced to flee south.
George and Lennie arrive a ranch to begin working. They are temporarily working, saving money before buying their own farm:
George repeats, at Lennie's request, the story of how they are someday going to get out of the lonely life of itinerant farm laborers and buy a piece of land where they can live by working their own small farm together.
Now, they are at a ranch in the Salinas Valley in California where they will be working to make their dream come true. This is happening during the Great Depression of the 1930s.
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