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Themes

Little Words, Big Ideas

Dreams, Hopes, and Plans

George and Lennie may dream a little dream of owning a farm, but they don't get very far with their to-do list before it all crumbles in heartbreaking failure. As Crooks points out, all ranchhands...

Friendship

Of Mice and Men is the equivalent of a bro hug: all sublimated emotion, gruff affection, and hearty back pats. George and Lennie don't text each other eleven times a day, and they don't like every...

Isolation

No man is an island… unless he's an itinerant worker during the Great Depression, and then he's about as lonely as you can get. But for all the talk about loneliness in Of Mice and Men, these guy...

Innocence

Lennie's mental disability makes him into a child, with a child's innocence: he likes hanging out with George and petting soft things. Sounds like a great Friday night! Oh, but there's a problem: h...

Freedom and Confinement

Lennie and George are tied down by their need for money. Curley's wife is limited by being a woman. Crooks is stuck because of his race. Except when they're caught up in the intensity of the dream,...

Justice

Meet us at the OK Corral… and bring a gun, because you might end up having to shoot a dog. In Of Mice and Men, justice happens the cowboy way. The ranch operates by its own set of rules, without...

Visions of America

Of Mice and Men's America is filled with dreamers and strugglers, who all have a different idea of what life should be: Hollywood, a quiet ranch, the pages of a pulp magazine. What all these vision...

Violence

Of Mice and Men may be about men full of masculine bravado, and there may be some pretty shocking violence, but these guys also inflict psychological and emotional violence as though they're auditi...

Prejudice

Which –ism are you interested in today? Take your pick: Of Mice and Men offers racism, sexism, ageism, ableism, and (why not?) sizeism—and those who are discriminated against accept the prejudi...

Weakness

Some weakness are obvious: Lennie is a few knives short of a cutlery drawer; Crooks is black and crippled; Curley is short; Curley's wife is, well, a woman. Only a few characters in Of Mice and Men...

Women and Femininity

In Choose Your Own Woman: Of Mice and Men, you have two options: a prostitute, or Curley's wife. There's no such things as a nice girl to settle down with, if your life is spent moving from ranch t...

Man and the Natural World

Like the ranch, the natural world is a dog-eat-dog place, where animal instincts trump any sense of justice or goodness and people accept cruelty as, well, natural: Lennie loves animals, but kills...
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