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George and Lennie are on their way to a ranch in the Salinas Valley. They have come all the way from the town of Weed in the far northwest corner of California, They stopped off in San Francisco to get new jobs and bus tickets from a labor hiring hall run by Murray and Ready, and they have been given work slips to present to their new employer. Evidently this was the conventional way of hiring itinerant farm workers in those days. The owners must have paid Murray and Ready a fee for the service, because most of the men, like George and Lennie, would not have had the money. These two bindlestiffs probably did not even collect their back wages in Weed because they left in a big hurry with a mob of men chasing them. They probably traveled to San Francisco on freight trains. They are down to their last three cans of beans. They could have gone on to the ranch that evening, but George decided that he wanted to spend one more night in the open. Their campsite is located about 150 miles south of San Francisco.
Although the ranch where they are expected is located only about a quarter of a mile from where they are camping, George has decided to sleep outdoors overnight. When Lennie asks the reason they don't go on to the ranch that evening and get some supper, George tells him:
"No reason at all for you. I like it here. Tomorra we're gonna go to work. I seen thrashin' machines on the way down. That means we'll be bucking grain bags, bustin' a gut. Tonight I'm gonna lay right here and look up. I like it."
When we first meet George and Lennie, the two primary characters in Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, they are clumping rather loudly through the brush and foliage near the river--or at least one of them is clumping. George Milton and Lennie Small are virtually nothing alike; however, when we meet them this is what we see.
They had walked in single file down the path, and even in the open one stayed behind the other. Both were dressed in denim trousers and in denim coats with brass buttons. Both wore black, shapeless hats and both carried tight blanket rolls slung over their shoulders.
In fact, however, they are nothing alike. George is a rather small, taut, intelligent man. Lennie, on the other hand, is a lumbering giant, and it does not take much time with him to figure out that he is mentally challenged. They are together (for a reason you will undoubtedly find out as you continue reading) in all things, and now they are going to set up camp near the river for the night.
The two men had to leave their last job (again for something you will read later), and tomorrow they will be going to their next one. They are traveling ranch hands. This means they do not really have a home of their own; instead, they travel from job to job, working on ranches in whatever capacity they are needed.
That is where they will be going tomorrow; for now, they are headed to a suitable spot near the river to set up camp for the night.
For excellent summaries and analysis of this novella, note the eNotes websites I have attached for you below.
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