What are 2 external and 2 internal conflicts in Of Mice and MenI need this to help my essay

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

John Steinbeck's novella Of Mice and Men's very title hints at the struggles to come in the narrative.  Taken from Robert Burns's poem, "To A Mouse" which ends with the line

The best laid scemes o' Mice and Men

Gang aft angley [often go awry]

Here are conflicts that occur in the narrative of Steinbeck's short work:


1.  Candy is in conflict with Carlson who wants to shoot the swamper's  dog because the dog "stinks" and is too old to be useful.  After looking "a long time at Slim to try to find some reversal," Candy "softly and hopelessly" tells Carlson to take the dog, lying back on his bunk and staring at the ceiling. (Chapter 2)

2.  Curley creates a conflict with Lenny and George by being confrontation when he enters the bunkhouse looking for his wife.  Later, Curley comes in with Slim, who tells him to "look after your own ---wife." Carlson tells Curley to stop letting his wife hang around the bunkhouse.  When Curley tells him to stay "outta this les' you wanta step outside," Carlson calls Curley "yella" and threatens him physically.  Candy joins in with the insults and Lennie laughs.  As Lennie retreats, Curley hits Lennie with a left, and then smashes his nose with a right punch.  Still, Lennie does not defend himself because he is afraid.  However, when George orders him, "Get 'im, Lennie," the big man grabs Curley's fist, crushing it. (Chapter 3)


1. George has conflicting feelings about Lennie.  While he has promised Lennie's aunt to look after Lennie, George has encountered problems as Lennie gets them into trouble and they lose jobs.  He complains that he could have an easier life without Lennie:

...if I was alone I could live so easy.  I could go get a job an' work, an' no trouble.  No mess at all, and the end of the month come I could take my fifty bucks and go into town and get whatever I want....

However, after George has said this, his

anger left him suddenly.  He looked across the fire at Lennie's anguished face, and then he looked ashamedly at the flames. (Chapter 1)

2. Crooks the stable worker has been alienated by the others because he is black.  When Lennie comes into the barn Crooks is cruel to him in retaliation against the others, taunting Lennie about George's not returning from town.  At first his face "lighted with pleasure in his torture," but when he realizes that Lennie is becoming angry, he relents and says "I didn't mean to scare you."  Then, when Candy arrives "It was difficult for Crooks to conceal his pleasure with anger."  Crooks wants to be cruel because he has been treated cruelly, but his is so elated to have company that he cannot be mean. (Chapter 4)