Of Mice and Men

John Steinbeck

Contemporary Classic Study Guide Questions


Be sure to provide quotes with page numbers for each response.


Section One

1) How does Steinbeck convey Lennie’s animal-like qualities?

2) Why does Steinbeck describe the actions of Lennie’s hands?

3) What is George’s attitude toward Lennie in this section?  Why does he stay with Lennie?

4) Explain the connection between Lennie’s hands and what happened in Weed.

5) Describe George’s dreams in this section.

6) What suggests that the dream of the farm is unrealistic?

7) Give some examples of foreshadowing in this section.


Section Two

1) Most of the opening paragraphs of this section consist of a realistic description of the bunkhouse.  What detail suggests that the ranch hands have a “romantic” side?

2) How does the account of Whitey’s quitting contribute to the book’s mood of alienation?

3) Why is the stable buck set apart from the other men?

4) Which character names from this section have symbolic importance?

5) Why is the boss suspicious of George and Lennie?

6) What explanation is given for Lennie’s mental condition?  Is it accurate?

7) What is Candy’s attitude toward Curley?

8) What is Candy’s opinion of Curley’s wife?

9) What qualities does the description of Slim suggest?

10) What is the significance of Slim’s and Carlson’s remarks about the dogs?

11) Give some examples of foreshadowing in this section.


Section Three

1) What does George’s conversation with Slim reveal about his past treatment of Lennie?

2) Why does George trust Slim?

3) What is George’s analysis of Lennie’s attack on the girl in Weed?  Does it seem probable?

4) Analyze Carlson’s reasons for and Candy’s reasons against shooting Candy’s dog.  How do they touch on the central issues of the novel?

5) Why does George decline Whit’s invitation to visit the brothel?

6) Relate George’s description of the farm to the novel’s theme of a romantic Eden.

7) Is it a realistic dream?

8) What comparisons does Candy make between his own condition and his dog’s?  How does this reinforce the theme of responsibility?

9) What does Lennie’s fight with Curley show the ranch hands?  What does the description of this fight suggest about the nature of violence?

10) Give some examples of foreshadowing from this section.


Section Four

1) What does the description of Crooks’ room reveal about its occupant?

2) Why is Crooks’ name appropriate?

3) Why does Crooks allow Lennie to enter his room?

4) How do Crooks’ words to Lennie about loneliness reinforce this theme of the novel?

5) What is Crooks’ reaction to the dream of the farm?

6) Show how Candy’s comments to Crooks and Lennie relate the dream of the land to Steinbeck’s theme of economic exploitation?

7) How does the behavior of Curley’s wife seem deliberately designed to provoke the men?

8) What motives does Steinbeck suggest for her behavior?

9) How is her nature as a destructive character most clearly revealed?

10) In what ways does Crooks retreat before her attack?

11) Give some examples of foreshadowing from this section.


Section Five

1) How is Lennie’s treatment of his dead puppy typical of his character?

2) In what way is Curley’s wife also a dreamer?  Is her dream any more realistic than George and Lennie’s?

3) How does Curley’s wife feel about Curley?

4) How does she entice Lennie into touching her?

5) What is the nature of the attack?

6) How does Lennie react to what he has done?

7) How does George’s reaction to the murder relate to his belief in the dream?

8) Compare the reactions of Curley and Slim.


Section Six

1) Describe Lennie’s state of mind as he goes to hide in the brush.

2) What happens to Lennie recalls another event in the book.  What is it?

3) What does the parallel reveal about George’s motive?

4) Explain George’s last remarks to Lennie.

5) Why does George lie about the gun?

6) Why does Slim treat George as he does?

7) Explain the significance of the last line of the novel.