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Of Mice and Men Character Analysis
Learn all you need to know about the major characters in Of Mice and Men with our character analysis and hand picked selection of essay examples.
Curley is the boss’s son. He spends most of his time looking for his wife, who is avoiding him. He keeps his left hand soft for his wife – “glove fulla vaseline!” - which disgusts the other men. His own insecurity makes him aggressive to everyone [except the invulnerable Slim] but particularly to Lennie, beside whom he feels physically reduced. He attacks Lennie and gets his hand broken by Lennie’s phenomenal grip. When his wife is killed, his reaction ignores her and focuses on how he can kill Lennie in the most sadistic way possible.
George is smart and articulate. But he is stuck with Lennie. Sometimes he resents this but his essential good nature won’t allow him to abandon his difficult friend. He has half-heartedly gone along with Lennie’s dream of independence and freedom, but the new ranch, with the involvement of Candy, lures him into thinking they can really “swing it”. However, when Lennie accidentally kills Curley’s wife, George knows he has to save him from much worse treatment at the hands of Curley. So he performs the ultimate act of friendship by shooting his friend.
Crooks is the only black person on the ranch, always referred to as “nigger” by other characters. He has his own room, an ironic privilege for someone who would never in 1930s California share accommodation with white men. He taunts Lennie, a man he sees as vulnerable as himself. This briefly gives him the nerve to face up to Curley’s wife...until she reminds him of his “place”, telling him “I could get you strung up on a tree so easy it ain’t even funny”. He realises then there is no role for him in the dream of George, Lennie and Candy.
Curley’s wife is just that: she has no name. Her constant flirting shows her insecurity and that she’s trapped in a loveless marriage – “I don’t like Curley.” For her the dream is in the past. She met someone who promised to put her in the movies. She thinks her mother stole the letter from Hollywood. Her hopeless dreams of glamour make her a pathetic figure. Like Lennie she loves soft things and what the two share is also what destroys them. When she panics he inadvertently breaks her neck, a death as random as the key decisions of her life.
Lennie’s surname is Small but he is large and very strong physically. Mentally, however, he is like a child, dependent on the smarter George. George has to tell him the same story, where they live off “the fatta the land”. His gentle side is shown by his fascination with small creatures like mice, rabbits and puppies. There is no malice in Lennie but his need to touch soft things causes the accidental death of Curley’s wife to whose sensuality he is innocently drawn. George then knows he has to shoot his closest friend to save him from “the booby hatch” or worse, the revenge of the violent Curley.