Steinbeck sets up the conflict in the story from the very first chapter. In it, we learn that Lennie and George have had to leave Weed in some haste because of an incident involving Lennie. From long experience, George knows there may be trouble at the new job, as well, and so he gives Lennie instructions. If there is a problem, Lennie is to return to the woods by the creek,
Tragically, the childlike Lennie, after accidentally killing Curley's wife, follows these directions and flees to the woods where George kills him.