Where are George and Lennie going at the beginning of chapter 1?
George and Lennie are a couple of bindle stiffs--that is, itinerant farm workers who carry their bed rolls and all their belongings in a bundle when they travel. They are camping on the bank of a river not far from Salinas, California, about a quarter of a mile from the ranch where they have gotten assignments to work next. George doesn't want to arrive until the next day. He wants to relax and enjoy a last day of freedom.
"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."
George is the smart one. The fact that his partner is so retarded makes it possible for the author John Steinbeck to provide the reader with a lot of information through dialogue rather than prose exposition. George has to explain everything to Lennie, and sometimes he has to repeat his explanations. By the end of the chapter the reader knows both these characters pretty well, and already suspects that there will be trouble at their new place of employment because of Lennie's unpredictable behavior. George and Lennie had to flee from their last place of employment because of some trouble Lennie had with a young girl in the town of Weed.
Of Mice and Men was produced as a play in New York in 1937, the same year the novel was published. The fact that so much of the information is conveyed through dialogue in the novel suggests that Steinbeck was already planning to adapt it into a stage play. Steinbeck was considered one of the best dialogue writers of his era, along with Ernest Hemingway and Dashiell Hammett. Steinbeck was one of the most famous writers of his generation. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962.