Thank you to Nikita for writing up this comprehensive set of notes from our lesson revising chapter 1:

Description of the Brush- page 1

  • “path beaten hard by boys coming down from the ranches”
  • “limb is worn smooth by men who have sat on it”
  • “leaves lie deep and so crisp that a lizard makes a great skittering if he runs among”

The brush only appears in Chapter 1&6 where George and Lennie are alone together. It’s a place where they feel safe. There are a lot of links and symbols of animals that Steinbeck presents in his cyclical novel.

The Two Protagonists- George and Lennie

George: “dark of face”, “restless eyes”, “sharp, strong features”, “small, quick”, “strong hands, thin”.

Lennie: “his opposite”, “huge man”, “large, pale eyes”, “wide sloping shoulders”, “dragging his feet, the way a bear drags his paws”.

Similarities with both: “denim trousers and denim coats with brass buttons”, “shapeless hats”, “carried tight blanket rolls slung over their shoulders”.

It is ironic how Lennie – who is the bigger person- isn’t as strong as we may think he is at first impression as his mental capability is the very opposite.

Their First Conversation

  • George leads, Lennie follows.
  • Their back story which is given in Chapter 1 foreshadows everything that is to come in the book.
  • In Weed “they run us outta Weed”– foreshadows trouble they’ve been in before.
  • Aunt Clara “Lady huh? That was your own aunt Clara” – foreshadows dangers with women.
  • The Bus “Bastard bus driver” – presents George’s angry nature and explicit language.
  • Mouse “What you want of a dead mouse anyways” – foreshadows the deaths.

Steinbeck from the very start of the book presents a naïve and vulnerable character for Lennie which makes the reader very fond of him so that even in the later part of the book, where he commits murders, we don’t despise his character. Every character in the book is a typical stereotype in this microcosmic world.

The Murders

  • Mouse dead Chapter 1
  • Dog dead Chapter 5
  • Curley’s wife dead Chapter 5

As the story continues each murder by Lennie (in size) gets bigger from mouse, dog, a human. The mouse is extremely small compared to Lennie however his mental capacity is the same as a mouse. Steinbeck may even be trying to show that Lennie kills things he loves therefore he is a real threat to everyone.

During the time the book was set everyone was suffering from the Great Depression so when they were eating the tin of beans it was very relieving as they wouldn’t know when the next time for them to eat would come.

Lennie and George’s Relationship

“If I was alone I could live so easily”– says George but as readers we know he doesn’t really mean this as he loves Lennie’s company even though he is hard work to put up with. If George didn’t have Lennie as his companion he would be as lonely and bitter as the other men on the ranch that we later learn about in the book.

However, Lennie isn’t as daft as we initially think he is as he quite cleverly says “George, you want I should go away and leave you alone?” – Lennie tries to manipulate George to make him feel guilty and realise that his life wouldn’t be the same without him. Lennie doesn’t manipulate him in a bad intention but in a rather child-like manner which reflects his persona on the whole too.

Towards the end on Chapter One George tells Lennie about what life is like for “Guys like us” as he is reassuring Lennie that they’re both doing things together and have each other’s back. It shows how sad and lonely life was like for ranch men and makes readers sympathise for them.

Chapter One’s Significance

  • Shows man’s place in nature and how everything around is really safe as we humans originate from nature too.
  • Animalism is a common theme in Chapter One when describing Lennie also.
  • Gives the reader background information of the two protagonists and that information foreshadows the coming events in the book.
  • Addresses George’s tentativeness with Lennie and the fear of him getting them both in trouble.
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