Short Summary of Steinbeck's Of Mice And Men.

Expert Answers
gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

John Steinbeck's novella Of Mice and Men chronicles the brief experiences of two migrant workers, George and Lennie, on a ranch in Soledad, California during the 1930s. Both George and Lennie are close friends, who travel throughout the United States looking for work on farms. George is portrayed as an intense, intelligent man, who takes care of his mentally disabled friend, Lennie. Shortly after they arrive at the ranch, they are confronted by the boss's aggressive son, who immediately intimidates Lennie and poses a threat to both men. Steinbeck then introduces the characters of Candy, Carlson, Crooks, and Slim, who all work on the ranch. Slim is depicted as the wisest man on the farm and ends up giving Lennie one of his puppies.

The men on the ranch spend the majority of their time working and daydreaming about owning their own property. Curley's lonely wife begins to flirt with the men, and George warns Lennie to stay away from her. Lennie then accidentally kills the puppy Slim gave him, and Curley's wife consoles him by allowing Lennie to pet her hair while they are alone in the barn. Curley's wife ends up panicking while Lennie is petting her hair, and he accidentally breaks her neck when she struggles to get away. Lennie then remembers George's advice and runs to the tranquil spot by the Salinas River. When George discovers that Lennie killed Curley's wife, he steals Carlson's pistol and meets up with Lennie at their designated spot by the river. As Curley's lynch mob closes in on them, George shoots Lennie in the back of the head before Curley's men can torture him.

noahvox2 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, written in 1937, deals with the experiences of two best friends, George Milton and Lennie Small. After Lennie gets into trouble in the California town of Weed, the two men flee southward and work at a barley farm near Soledad, California. During their stay on the farm, Lennie, who is physically very strong but mentally challenged, accidentally kills the wife of Curley, the son of the farm's boss.

George knows that Curley and the other men on the farm will kill Lennie, so George secretly takes one of the other men's guns and finds Lennie near the Salinas River, where they had initially stopped before going on to the farm. George and Lennie sit together and George tells Lennie about their dream farm, just as he has many times before. While Lennie listens, George takes the gun and shoots Lennie in the back of the head:

George raised the gun and steadied it, and he brought the muzzle of it close to the back of Lennie’s head. The hand shook violently, but his face set and his hand steadied. He pulled the trigger. The crash of the shot rolled up the hills and rolled down again. Lennie jarred, and then settled slowly forward to the sand, and he lay without quivering.

The novel ends with another of the farm workers telling George that he had to kill Lennie.