Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In John Steinbeck's novella Of Mice and Men the author tells us that George and Lennie had been working in the small northern California town of Weed. They are itinerant farm workers traveling around the state. In Weed, Lennie saw a girl in a red dress and reached out to touch it. George describes the episode to Slim in chapter three:

"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." 

Lennie is obsessively drawn to soft things which he likes to touch and pet. The girl accuses Lennie of raping her and the men of the town chase George and Lennie, who have to hide. George goes on with his explanation:

“Well, that girl rabbits in an’ tells the law she been raped. The guys in Weed start a party out to lynch Lennie. So we sit in a irrigation ditch under water all the rest of that day. Got on’y our heads sticking outa water, an’ up under the grass that sticks out from the side of the ditch. An’ that night we scrammed outa there.”

The scene in Weed also serves as foreshadowing for chapter five when Lennie is alone with Curley's wife. While Lennie is stroking the girl's hair she tries to break away and, as in Weed, he holds on. Eventually her struggles scare Lennie and he accidentally breaks her neck. His obsession with soft things and his powerful strength finally contribute to his downfall.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What did Lennie do to force George and Lennie to leave Weed? 

In Chapter 1, George is frustrated that he and Lennie had to leave another job. This is in reference to the job in Weed. George says that if he was free of Lennie, he could "live so easy." He would be able to stay at a job, actually earn some money, get drunk, and so on. Then he says "Jus' wanted to feel that girl's dress--jus' wanted to pet it like a mouse-- Well, how the hell did she know you jus' wanted to feel her dress?" Lennie is drawn to soft things like mice, girls' dresses, and soft hair. But he doesn't realize how strong he is and he tends to panic easily. So, when the girl tries to get out of Lennie's grasp, he panics and holds on even tighter. We see this with how Lennie loves mice and puppies but tends to destroy them because he squeezes them too hard. This event in Weed also foreshadows the event involving Curley's wife. 

In Chapter 3, George gives more details to Slim. George has to hit Lennie on the head with a fence picket to get him to let go of the girl's dress. But the girl is traumatized and claims that she'd been raped. A group of men set out to track Lennie down. That's when George and Lennie go to hide in the irrigation ditch and eventually leave Weed. 

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Last Updated on