At a Glance

  • George Milton is Lennie’s friend and protector, who decides to shoot Lennie in the back of the head rather than leave him to a lynch mob.
  • Lennie Small is a mentally disabled migrant worker who accidentally kills Curley's wife.
  • Candy is an elderly ranch hand who offers George and Lennie $350 if they let him join them on their ranch.
  • Curley is the boss' son, who foolishly picks a fight with Lennie.
  • Curley’s wife is the lonely, isolated woman that Lennie accidentally kills.

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List of Characters

George Milton

One of the protagonists of Of Mice and Men, George Milton is a shrewd migrant worker “with restless eyes and sharp, strong features.” In many ways, he resembles a mouse: “Every part of him was defined: small, strong hands, slender arms, a thin and bony nose.” (Read our extended character analysis of George Milton.)

Lennie Small 

Lennie Small, George’s companion and fellow migrant laborer, is not “small” at all. Lennie’s ironic last name highlights how the two main protagonists, Lennie and George, represent a study in contrasts. While George is small and shrewd, Lennie is a “huge man, shapeless of face, with large, pale eyes, and wide, sloping shoulders.” (Read our extended character analysis of Lennie Small.)

Curley

Curley is the son of the ranch owner. He is characterized by his curled hair, hot temper, and “pugnacious and calculating” glance. Once a Golden Glove finalist and lightweight boxer, Curley vainly and incorrectly believes he can physically defeat men who are larger than he is. He often fights with bigger men to demonstrate his strength. When he wins, he is seen as strong; when he loses, he is seen as a martyr. Despite his machismo, Curley is cowardly. He often worries that his wife is flirting with other men, and he makes excuses to explain away his crushed hand after Lennie fights and defeats him. When his wife dies, Curley is more preoccupied with vengeance than with mourning her. Although the laborers encourage Curley to stay with his wife’s body, he vows to “shoot the guts outa that big bastard [him]self.” 

Curley’s Wife 

The only female character in the story, Curley’s wife is frequently referred to as the “tramp” and the “tart.” She wears a velvet red dress and has “full, rouged lips,” “wide-spaced eyes,” red fingernails, and “hair hung in little rolled clusters, like sausages.” Lonely and unfulfilled, Curley’s wife—who goes unnamed throughout the story—once had dreams of becoming a movie star. Now that she lives on Curley’s ranch, she simply seeks human connection. However, her actions and appearance come off as lascivious and adulterous to many of the characters. George comments that Curley’s wife is “poison” for flirting with so many of the men on the ranch, and he warns Lennie to steer clear of her. However, impressed by Lennie’s strength and ability to best her husband in a fight, Curley’s wife approaches Lennie. He becomes enamored with her soft velvet dress and hair, and when Curley’s wife tries to wriggle away, Lennie accidentally kills her. The death of this unnamed character dashes George and Lennie’s desires; when she dies, Lennie must die as well, and George is left to survive the harsh migratory worker’s life alone.  

Candy

Candy is a one-handed, “stoop-shouldered” elderly ranch hand. His offers to contribute his life savings of $350 to Lennie and George in order to help them achieve their dream of living on their own plot of land. This offer makes their dream seem more realistic, at least at first. Like Candy, his dog is old and disabled. Carlson kills Candy’s dog to put him out of his misery, a moment that mirrors how George eventually kills Lennie in order to save him from Curley’s lynch mob. 

Carlson 

Carlson is a mechanic on the ranch. His inability to feel empathy...

(The entire section is 905 words.)