What are some examples of direct and indirect characterizations of George and Lennie in Of Mice and Men?John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Most authors use indirect characterization which includes

  • physical descriptions

"The first man was smalland quick, dark of face, with restless eyes and sharp, strong features.  Every part of him was defined:  small, strong hands, slender arms, a thin and bony nose.  Behind him walked his opposite, a huge man, shapeless of face, with large, pale eyes, with wide, sloping shoulders; and he walked heavily, dragging his feet a little, the way a bear drags his paws.  His arms did not swing at his sides, but hung loosely."

  • characters' actions

His huge companion dropped his blankets and flung himself down and drank from the surface of the green pool; drank with long gulps, snorting into the water like a horse.  The small man stepped nervously beside him.

  • characters' thoughts, feelings, and speeches

"'Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys n the world.  They got no family.  They don't belong no place....With us, it ain't like that. We got a future." [George]

"For the first time Lennie became conscious of the outside. He crounched down in the hay and listened.  'I done a real bad thing,' he said. 'I shouldn't had did that.  George'll be mad. An'...he said...an'hide in the brush till he come....'"

  • the comments and reactions of other characters

"Crooks interrupted brutally. 'You guys is just kiddin' yourself.  You'll talk about it a hell of a lot, but you son't get no land.  You'll be a swamper here till they take you out in a box.  Hell, I seen too many guys.  Lennie here'll quit an' be on the road in two, three, weeks.  Seems like ever' guy got land in his head.'"

  • Direct characterization occurs with statements by the author, giving his/her opinion of the character(s). [e.g. Steinbeck writes that Slim has "God-like eyes."]

Steinbeck writes that Lennie drags his feet the way "a bear drags his paws."

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