Of Mice and Men Questions and Answers
by John Steinbeck

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Why did George and Lennie have to leave Weed?      

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Weed is a small town in northern California near the foothills of Mt. Shasta. In chapter one and chapter three, George mentions the incident with the girl in the red dress. When he brings it up in chapter one, Lennie remembers that they were run out of the town. In Weed, George and Lennie were working on a ranch when Lennie saw a girl wearing a red dress. He grabbed the dress and held on, causing the girl to fear for her life and start screaming. Lennie has an obsession with touching and petting soft things, such as mice, rabbits and puppies. The red dress was just another object which played on this temptation. George gives Slim the details of the incident in chapter three:

“Well, he seen this girl in a red dress. Dumb bastard like he is, he wants to touch ever’thing he likes. Just wants to feel it. So he reaches out to feel this red dress an’ the girl lets out a squawk, and that gets Lennie all mixed up, and he holds on ‘cause that’s the only thing he can think to do. Well, this girl squawks and squawks. I was jus’ a little bit off, and I heard all the yellin’, so I comes running, an’ by that time Lennie’s so scared all he can think to do is jus’ hold on. I socked him over the head with a fence picket to make him let go. He was so scairt he couldn’t let go of that dress. And he’s so God damn strong, you know.” 

The girl accuses Lennie of raping her and the men in Weed go after George and Lennie, who have to hide in an irrigation ditch in order to avoid capture. The scene proves to be foreshadowing for the later incident with Curley's wife. When Curley's wife allows Lennie to stroke her hair, he again becomes too rough and holds on, eventually breaking her neck.

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