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"Of Mice and Men" – Character Analysis (Steinbeck) 07:55 min

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Transkript "Of Mice and Men" – Character Analysis (Steinbeck)

“Of Mice and Men” - Character Analysis. The novel “Of Mice and Men” written by the American author John Steinbeck was published in 1937. The novel explores several themes such as the American Dream and belonging vs. dislocation and centres around the story of two migrant workers, Lennie and George. Although Lennie and George are the two main protagonists, there are five other important characters and a handful of minor characters. By the end of this video you should have a clear understanding of the characters, their roles and purpose in the novel. Before we look at the individuals, it is important to know something about how the novel is written. The whole story is presented in third-person narrative. There is an omniscient narrator who unravels the plot but does not describe the characters. The protagonists and other characters are therefore introduced and developed through their discourse and action. There is one exception to this, which is the character of Slim. The narrator describes Slim when he first appears in the novel. The main protagonists, George and Lennie, are unusual, because they stick together unlike most migrant workers. They are also unusual because they are so different from each other. And they share a dream of owning a farm and living on it. George is small and quick. He is somewhat clever but has little or no education. He knows that his life would be easier if he was on his own, but he sticks to Lennie because their friendship means a lot to him. Lennie’s childlike faith helps to keep their mutual dream alive for George. Lennie is large and physically strong and has learning difficulties. Lennie loves soft things, such as pets, a woman’s dress or hair. Due to his mild mental disability and his childlike character, Lennie completely relies on George for guidance and protection. Also, he doesn’t understand his own strength. He dreams of caring for rabbits on their future farm. But his love for soft things often conspires against him and leads to disasters. Candy is an aging ranch hand, who lost his right hand in an accident. He worries about his future on the ranch. He’s a good guy and hopes to join in in George‘s and Lennie’s dream and help with money. He’s got a very old dog which gets shot by Carlson because of his age. Curley is the Boss’s son and has a big inferiority complex. He is suspicious of everyone and very possessive of his wife. He used to be a semi-professional boxer and he likes to provoke others, especially larger men, like Lennie. Curley’s wife, whose name is not mentioned throughout the novel, is flirtatious and provocative. She’s the only female character in the novel. She tries to make contact with almost every man on the farm. Like the other farmhands she’s lonely and unhappy due to her failed dream of becoming an actress. Curley’s wife lets Lennie stroke her hair, which leads to her accidental death. Slim is quiet and understanding. He’s the leader of the mule team and „the prince of the ranch“. He’s in peace with himself and widely respected by many of the characters, even by Curley. Slim understands the relationship between George and Lennie. The respect that many people in the novel feel for Slim is reflected by the fact that he is the only character who is described by the narrator. Crooks is the stable hand. He’s African-American and has a crooked back. Due to his skin colour he must sleep isolated from the others in the stable. He reads a lot and is well-educated. After first being mean to Lennie he recognises the importance of having another person to talk to. He’s also the one who speaks out against Lennie’s and George’s dream and states that he has seen countless men following the same empty dream. A few other characters appear in the novel: The Boss, Curley’s father, and Carlson and Whit, two other migrant workers. Carlson is the one who puts down Candy‘s dog without mercy. To make it a little easier to understand the relationships between the characters, take a look at this diagram. As you can see, George and Lennie are friends. Crooks and Lennie are shortly brought together by their loneliness and their desire for a place to call home. Slim understands Lennie and George. Curley’s wife tries to approach Lennie who accidentally kills her. Curley hates Lennie and, moreover, doesn’t trust Slim, because he assumes that Slim and his wife are having an affair. Candy shares George and Lennie’s dream and gets hope from their friendship. As you can see, Lennie is in the centre of the characters and primarily defines the different relationships. Although his character lacks power due to his learning difficulties, Lennie’s role is the most powerful one in ‘Of Mice and Men’. The story ends, of course, in the tragic murder of Lennie by George. You should now have a clearer understanding of the complex characters that make up the novel ‘Of Mice and Men’. The true complexity of the novel is shown by the strong bond that links George and Lennie, both in friendship and death.