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1-Page Summary of Of Mice and Men
Two workers, named George and Lennie, are traveling to a ranch in California. They stop at a pool by the Salinas River for one last night of freedom before they start their new jobs. As they talk about what life will be like on the ranch, it becomes clear that George is more independent than Lennie. He dreams of having his own farm and being able to make all his own decisions without anyone telling him what to do. On the other hand, Lennie has trouble remembering things and doesn’t have an interest in making plans for himself or figuring out how he’ll survive once he’s not with George anymore.
The next day, Lennie and George arrive at the ranch. They meet Candy, a swamper who lost his hand. He shows them to their bunk house where they’ll be staying with the other workers. The boss comes by and agrees to let them stay on but is skeptical of two men traveling together. Candy fills Lennie in on the dynamics of the ranch, warning him that Curley’s wife has “the eye” for the laborers and will come around flirting with them soon enough. Sure enough, when Candy leaves to tend his dog outside, Curley’s wife pokes her head into the bunkhouse looking for Curley and asks whether any of those guys are single or interested in hooking up with her later that night. Slim enters then as well—he’s another worker there—and shoos off Curley’s wife before introducing himself to George and Lennie; he also expresses surprise over seeing two men traveling together like this because it isn’t common among migrant farm workers back in California. Meanwhile Carlson and Whit show up too; Carlson says he’d love one of Slim’s dogs just as long as it doesn’t poop all over him while Whit tells Slim about how much he loves horses after growing up working on a horse ranch back home in Texas. As everyone else leaves after washing up from work, George warns Lennie again about trouble coming from Curley ; once everyone else leaves, Crooks (the black stablehand ) comes by to talk with George, telling him that if anyone ever bothers him again, he can count on Crooks’ help.
George suggests that they get jobs picking cotton near Bakersfield so they can earn more money sooner than expected. Lennie likes this idea but worries what might happen if she kills someone accidentally. George assures him that everything would be fine since no one would even notice an accident like that anyway given how small she is compared to most people.”
The men enjoy some leisure time. George and Slim play cards in the bunk house while some of the other laborers play a game of horseshoes outside. Lennie is in the barn, playing with the new puppy that Slim gave him. George thanks Slim for his generosity and explains that he has been looking after Lennie ever since Lennie’s Aunt Clara died. He vents his frustrations about traveling with Lennie and even tells Slim about their troubles in Weed. The horseshoe game ends and the other men come into the bunk house; Candy brings his dog inside as well, causing Carlson to complain about its smell—he suggests that Candy put it out of its misery by shooting it himself. Carlson offers to shoot it for Candy, who eventually agrees despite much persuasion from others not to do so; soon they hear a gunshot from outside indicating that Carlson followed through on his promise to kill Candy’s dog for him. Crooks enters the bunkhouse and calls Slim over to help care for a mule with an injured hoof; once again leaving George alone with all of these strangers. Whit invites George along on their trip into town later that night but warns him not to get into any trouble because Curley will be there, too. After everyone leaves, we find out why: Curley comes back looking for his wife (who is having an affair with another man) ; when he realizes she isn’t there, he gets suspicious – this causes Carlson and Whit (two other workers ) to go over there hoping Curley will start something so they can beat up someone bigger than themselves ; meanwhile, Lennie asks George if they can talk more about their farm-to-be ; getting caught up in daydreaming aloud about what life would be like if only they could have such a place together, both forget where they are until awakened by candy asking them if he could join them on said farm – making good on years worth of saving money since losing part of one hand at work ! This prompts curleys rage which leads us back around full circle :