‘Of Mice and Men’ unites some of the most socially vulnerable but adventurous personalities – from characters like George to Lennie, Candy to Slim, Crooks to Curley’s, and all the others.
One of the most important characters
Loyal and caring towards Lennie
Along with Lennie, dreams of a better life
Mostly referred to as George in the novel ‘Of Mice and Men’, he is one of the two most prominent characters in the book. He is described as being small and quick, dark of face, with restless eyes and sharp, strong features
George proves himself a great friend and companion to Lennie to the point that he informally adopts him and becomes something close to Lennie’s caretaker after Lennie loses his aunt, Clara. Lennie totally relies on George for his guidance and safety.
George, who works as a laborer at a ranch with his friend Lennie and the others, is dream-oriented and confident and has plans in place to coown a small farm with Lennie someday.
But, this dream keeps getting delayed because both men haven’t quite got the financial means to make it happen. However, the dream starts to look more likely to happen when Candy declares interest in the plan with the much-needed financial support.
The other of the most important characters
Loves soft things such as people’s hair
Dreams of a better life on his own farm with rabbits
A huge, mentally handicapped man with very strong hands
Next to George, Lennie is the other principal character in the book. He is the complete opposite of George – both physically and mentally. He is introduced as a tall and huge man and with a mental disability that makes him forget things easily, anxious, and unable to control his own strength.
Lennie becomes close friends with George from when they were still little after he loses his aunt, Clara, prompting George to start taking responsibility for his well-being. Aside from his intermittent mental issue and an overly weird dependence on George, Lennie is quite a nice man who often minds his business and is reserved.
Lennie is arguably the biggest reason why George can’t actualize his dream of owning a farm because he keeps getting them in trouble every time they’re distracted from working to save up money for the project to find themselves on the move to save their lives.
From the start of the book, readers find they’re on the move away from Weed mainly because Lennie had carelessly touched a woman’s dress in a way society considers inappropriate and sexually abusive, and as a result, he was accused of rape. Lennie enjoys petting soft things, such as dresses, women’s hair, and small animals, later leading to disaster.
The big man finally shatters his and George’s dreams when he accidentally kills Curley’s wife after she allows him the pleasure of stroking her hair, but things quickly turn bad, and Lennie mistakenly breaks her neck in the process of trying to prevent her from screaming.
An old one-handed ranch hand working at the farm
Wants to be part of George and Lennies dream farm
Has an old dog who gets put down by Carlson
Old Candy is the first person that George and Lennie meet on arrival at the Soledad ranch. He is, as his name implies – old and has an equally old dog that is shabby and smells, as Carlson tells us.
For the most part of the book, Old Candy feels lonely, more so when his dog is killed by Carlson with his permission. Other times he feels isolated despite joining in conversations and hanging out with the guys at the ranch.
Old Candy comes close to achieving a more fulfilling dream which would see him pair with George and Lennie on their dream farm project, where he gets the chance to hoe the ground and wash dishes – for his dignity lies in having a job to keep busy.
This dream is destroyed, however, after Lennie accidentally kills Curley’s wife, and readers can feel his frustration at the scene where he pours out his heart over the cold, lifeless body of Curley’s wife.
Son of the man in charge of the ranch
A small man who feels he needs to prove himself by fighting against bigger men
Unfriendly and aggressive toward the farm workers
The only real villain of the novel, Curley, a small stature man who is described as violent, aggressive, and insensitive, is the son of the ranch owner or The Boss. He is an amateur boxer (rumored to be an ex-champion prizefighter) who has a reputation for beating up larger men who are sometimes two times his size, and readers see this come to a place in the fact that he would always like to single out and challenge Lennie to a fight. Despite being a good fighter, Curley is disliked by much of the farm and he wears high-heeled boots to try and distinguish himself from the field hands.
Curley has a wife who also stays with the guys at the ranch. Although his wife is described as a tart who enjoys flirting with the guys, Curley doesn’t show her the kind of love and attention that she needs as she always complains of being lonely.
Curley brags about wearing a glove full of Vaseline to keep his hand soft for his new wife.
The only female at the ranch, and represents the temptation of female sexuality
Dreams of becoming a movie star
Is seen as dangerous by the men of the ranch
She never gets a real name in the book and is just referred to as Curley’s wife. She is the only woman at the ranch and the only female character other than Aunt Clara. She poses a great threat to the men as she often engages in tough talks with them and once threatened to get Crooks lynched. She is branded as a “tramp” by the men in the novel.
Her biggest dream is to become a movie star but getting married to Curley crushes that reality.
Slim is the man in charge of Lennie and George
Seen as a good leader and a fair man
Helps Lennie and George keep their new jobs
Slim is the guy the boss puts in charge of George and Lennie. In ‘Of Mice and Men’, he is perhaps the smartest man at the ranch and well respected by the others naturally.
He has some great leadership skills, such as empathy, and knows how to resolve conflicts and prevent them from exacerbating. Readers get a feel of this in the scene in which he settles Lennie and Curley’s brawl and convinces the latter not to tell his dad, the boss, or he might get George and Lennie fired.
An old black stable-hand with a crooked back
Discriminated against for his skin color
At first a cold, unfriendly man, but he later opens up with Lennie
Next to Curley’s wife, Crooks is perhaps the next most mentally tortured character in ‘Of Mice and Men’. He is a cripple and the only black man at the ranch who gets racially discriminated against and is often banned from entering the house of the other white guys at the ranch.
Through this treatment and other unpleasant life experiences, he becomes a very bitter man who is mean, unfriendly, and antisocial. That notwithstanding, Crooks later starts to open himself up to mingle with Lennie and actually enjoys it for a moment.
Carlson is the man who shoots Candy’s dog
Owns the gun that George steals at the end of the novel
Carlson is one of the minor characters who appear here and there across scenes in ‘Of Mice and Men’. He owns the gun to which Lennie dies and is also the one who shoots Candy’s dog after he complains the dog is old and needs to be put out of its misery.
The Ranch Owner
Referred to as “The Boss”, but does not appear in the novel
He is seen as an honorable man with strong values
Often referred to as the boss, the ranch owner. Also, Curley’s father is the man who owns the ranch on which George and Lennie work. Readers don’t get to see his face, but he is talked about or made reference to by the men who are always full of respect and honor towards him. An example of a reason the men respect him can be taken from the story of The Boss gifting the workers a gallon of whiskey on Christmas day.
Lennie’s aunt who used to look after him
Appears to Lennie after he has been shot by George
Clara is Lennie’s aunt, who passed away many years ago when Lennie was very little. Her character appears in scenes only when Lennie or George are nostalgic and reminiscent. Her clear physical appearance comes to life about the time before Lennie is shot, and he sees her appear before him, standing with a giant rabbit.
A ranch hand with no major role in the story
Whit is perhaps the less featured of all the characters in ‘Of Mice and Men’. Like all the others, he is a ranch hand and laborer but has very little role to play in the whole story.
John Steinbeck formula for picking characters for ‘Of Mice and Men’ is similar to that of Neil Gaiman’s ‘Coraline’ in the fact that they are not many. Still, the short character list does not take anything away from the book, given that the ones featured are rich and sufficient for what is portrayed.
Who are the major characters in ‘Of Mice and Men’?
In the order of major roles played, the most important characters should include; George, Lennie, Slim, Curley, and his wife.
What dream do George and Lennie have?
The two main characters, George and Lennie, have a shared dream of co-owner a farm together where the former gets to plant vegetation, and the latter tend rabbits.
Why was Lennie chased by a lynch party?
Curley organized a lynch party made up of himself and the other ranch hands in search of Lennie for accidentally murdering his wife in cold blood.
What is Lennie’s disability?
Lennie’s mental condition isn’t diagnosed in the book, however, some suggest he may have Sotos syndrome, while others think he could be severely autistic.
Why is Curley’s Wife nameless?
Curley’s Wife is nameless because she is shown to be a possession of Curley. It shows her lack of independence and represents how women were seen and treated in this era.