The novel Of Mice and Men starts in the Salinas Valley on a Thursday during the Great Depression.
The novel begins the night before the men arrive at their new job. The novel opens with a serene description of nature.
A few miles south of Soledad, the Salinas River drops in close to the hillside bank and runs deep and green. (ch 1)
When George and Lennie arrive at the ranch, Whit jokes with them about arriving on a Friday. George and Lennie stop by the river the night before in order to rest, and the day is “going fast.” George does not want to go that night because they will have to work in the morning and they have had to walk four miles because the driver let them off in the wrong place.
The novel takes place during the Great Depression, and George and Lennie are migrant workers. They go from ranch to ranch, following the work.
The novel is framed with these nature scenes for a reason. It begins and ends with George and Lennie alone in nature, talking about their dream of having a place of their own and raising rabbits. The dream is not a possibility, and this is a testament to the lack of reality of the American dream.