How is the title "Of Mice and Men" related to the characters themselves?

Expert Answers
mercut1469 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The title Of Mice and Men is an allusion to the Robert Burns' poem "To a Mouse." The quote appears in the second to last stanza of the poem:

The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men 
          Gang aft agley, 
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain, 
          For promis’d joy!
Translated, the lines basically say that the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray, or simply don't work out. Instead those failed plans cause grief and pain. This quote relates directly to George's dream of buying his own farm. This dream is shared by Lennie, Candy and, for a short time, Crooks. It is, in fact, all the men can talk about. They relish the idea of someday leaving the ranch and going off to this proclaimed paradise where George will raise his own crops, Candy will "hoe in the garden" and Lennie will "tend rabbits." Unfortunately, no matter how well they plan, the dream never materializes as Lennie accidentally kills Curley's wife and George has no other recourse than to kill Lennie rather than let him fall into Curley's hands. The plans to go to the dream farm go astray and bring only grief and pain to George who loses his best friend and Candy who will be forever left to swamp out the bunkhouse at the ranch.