Where and when do we first meet George and Lennie?
In Of Mice and Men, the reader first meets George and Lennie in rural California. "A few miles South of Soledad" and along the banks of the Salinas River is the exact location where the story opens. It is in this condition where we are able to meet George and Lennie for the first time. The exact time in terms of year of the story is something towards which Steinbeck does not immediate reference. Steinbeck publishes the work in 1937. There is much to indicate that the work takes place in the Depression time period, even though there is no direct reference to the New Deal or the Great Depression. The lack of money, the transience of George and Lennie, and the need to find work, save "their bit," and move on to the next place personalizes the historical context. Steinbeck was mindful of the challenges in agriculture in the late 1930s that existed in California. Lennie and George seem to be right out of this time period. It is in this realm of financial challenge and a lack of economic empowerment that we first meet George and Lennie by a pool of water that will open and sadly end their narratives.