In which region does the novel "Of Mice and Men" take place?

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The setting of the novella Of Mice and Men takes place on a ranch in Soledad, California during the 1930s. The four specific settings throughout the novella are the tranquil riverbed by the Salinas River, the bunkhouse, Crooks's room, and the main barn on the ranch. 

Steinbeck was familiar with this setting because he was born in Salinas, California, which is relatively close to the Pacific Ocean. He wanted to portray the life of migrant workers struggling to survive during a difficult time in America. The fact that the novella is set during the Great Depression significantly affects the story.

During the Depression, thousands of migrant farmers traveled throughout the country in search of jobs. Like many migrant workers, George and Lennie have difficult lives and barely make enough money to survive. They travel to a ranch in Soledad—a name which means "loneliness" in Spanish and represents the life of the workers on the ranch. 

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This little masterpiece of fiction is set in a part of the country well-known to John Steinbeck. For, he was born in Salinas, California, which is a few miles from the Pacific Ocean; secondly, Steinbeck worked in the fertile fields of the Salinas Valley, known as "America's Salad Bowl," alongside many migrant laborers. Twenty-five miles southeast of Salinas is the town of Soledad; this town is in the heart of what is now the wine-making business. But, since the town's name is Spanish for "solitude," Steinbeck chose Soledad as the setting probably because the town's name relates to the major theme of loneliness.

During the Great Depression, many men left their families and migrated to the fertile fields of California in the hope of work in this new "land of milk and honey." When they found work, it was usually only seasonal and the "bindle stiffs" would have to seek work elsewhere. Always solitary, always anxious, they lived in fear and held a fragile hope for happiness. As a metaphor for these feelings, the opening chapter describes the clearing near Soledad:

There is a path through the willows and among the sycamores...and beaten hard by tramps who come wearily down from the highway in the evening.... In front of the low horizontal limb of a ...worn smooth by men who have sat on it.

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In what part of the country and in what time period does the novella take place?

Steinbeck opens Of Mice and Men with a detailed description of the location:

A few miles south of Soledad, the Salinas River drops in close to the hillside bank and runs deep and green. The water is warm too, for it has slipped twinkling over the yellow sands in the sunlight before reaching the narrow pool. On one side of the river the golden foothill slopes curve up to the strong and rocky Gabilan Mountains...

Soledad is a city in Monterey County in the central region of California. With its warm but not hot weather, it is most famous for its agriculture. Many people flocked to the region during the Great Depression (1929–1939) in a search for work.

Lennie and George find work at a ranch only a quarter of a mile from where they are at the beginning of story. George says to get there, they just had to "follow the river."

It's worth remember that Soledad is Spanish for solitude. This is more in reference to the surrounding area—made up of mostly farmland—than the city it itself, and there is a suggestion that the migrant workers go to Soledad as an outlet when they get lonely or bored. As Crook unkindly tells Lennie;

An' where's George now? In town in a whore house. That's where your money's goin'. Jesus, I seen it happen too many times. I seen too many guys with land in their head. They never get none under their hand.

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In what part of the country and in what time period does the novella take place?

Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck, takes place on a ranch in California. We know this because the two main characters, Lennie Small and George Milton, are migrant workers who are in search of jobs. This story takes place during the Great Depression, which means it occurs sometime in the 1930s.

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