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Suggested Essay Topics

Chapter 1
1. George and Lennie are obviously committed to each other, yet they often criticize each other or threaten to leave. Examine the negative aspects of this relationship, and then consider why they stay together in spite of all of this. Contrast the language of each, their threats and complaints, with what they really feel. What is it that so strongly binds these two together?

2. Write a character profile of Lennie and George. In addition to describing their physical characteristics, focus on their personalities, their hopes, and their dreams. How is each character different, and how do they complement each other?

Chapter 2
1. It seems very unusual for two people in this work, which presents the reader a real slice of life, to have established companions. Consider the pairs presented in this chapter: George and Lennie, Curley and his wife, Candy and his dog. Discuss the relationships involved in the various pairings. What is the basis for each relationship? What are the positive and negative aspects of each?

2. Steinbeck paints a picture of life on the ranch through his characterization, giving the reader important information about them. Compile a list of characters presented by Steinbeck in this chapter and describe the qualities of each. What do the details tell you about each of them? What, in your opinion, does each character represent and why?

Chapter 3
1. Trace the parallels that are developed between Candy and his dog and George and his companion. Consider the amount of time they have spent together, the way they view the limitations of their companions, the way they defend their companions, and any other points of similarity you see.

2. George and Lennie’s plan to buy a ranch in the first chapter is nothing more than an unattainable dream. How does it become a more concrete plan in the second chapter, and what is the role that Candy plays in taking this dream closer to reality?

Chapter 4
1. Several characters have suggested a need to have a companion or just a person who will listen. What evidence is given here that this is a strong desire of many of the characters? Consider, too, the effect that having a companion gives to Candy and Crooks as they confront Curley’s wife.

2. Crooks, Lennie, Candy, and Curley’s wife are lonely people with specific needs. Compare the four characters and discuss what they need and want to end their respective feelings of loneliness.

(The entire section is 639 words.)