Of Mice and Men exam questions 2004


Which character in of Mice and Men do you most sympathise with and why? [27]

Write about:

  • Why you sympathise with this character
  • How the writer makes you sympathise with them by he way he writes.




When Lennie has killed Curley’s wife, George sys, ‘I should of knew…I guess maybe way back in my head I did.’

How does Steinbeck show that Lennie was always going to get into serious trouble.

Write about:

  • What Lennie is like
  • The things that Lennie does
  • How Lennie behaves with other characters
  • How Steinbeck show that Lennie’s death is unavoidable.



Lennie- dumb / gets in trouble / mimics George / can’t remember things / likes soft pretty things / doesn’t know his own strength / no family only George / dreams of rabbits, puppies and soft things / ends up having to be killed by his best friend.


George – has to look after Lennie; keep him out of trouble / bitter / frustrated / loyal but responsible / able to lighten his load by confessing his guilt to Slim / visits whorehouse to forget / makes up the dream to keep Lennie happy but sees possibility of it coming true only to have it dashed by Lennie’s actions.


Candy – old / lonely / almost useless – old dog same / dog shot by Carlson / buys into George and Lennie’s dream because … / dream wrecked by Lennie’s actions.


Crooks – black / crippled /outcast / subject to race hatred / buys into dream for same reasons as Candy / abused by Curley’s wife he retracts offer to help G + L.


Curley’s wife – young / pretty / vapid / flirt / bitter / disappointed in her dreams not coming true / only married Curley to spite her mother / lonely / dead!


Why you sympathise with them?

Because you feel sorry for them…

Reasons: lonely; disappointed; frustrated; loss of hope; the American Dream has nothing for them.

How their own actions have led to this…

How other people have contributed…

Other outside factors like being born black in other words at the bottom of the heap socially! Or born a woman in this era or being born simple? Or having to great a sense of responsibility? Or being old and no longer valued? etc


How the writer makes you feel sympathy by the way he writes:

Description of them; description of the surroundings, harsh environment; also the men competitive, challenging, unforgiving, selfish and jealous. It’s every man for himself and god help those who fall…

Find quotes to support points that you make.

Quotations : Who said this?


‘I ought to have shot that dog myself, George. I shouldn’t ought to have let no stranger shoot my dog.’

‘You guys better go …A colored man got to have some rights even if he don’t like em.’

‘Guys like us that work on ranches are the loneliest guys in the world.’

‘He snivelled and his voice shook. I could of hoe’d in the garden and washed dishes…’

‘I had him so long. Had him since he was a pup.’

‘Think I don’t like to talk to somebody ever once in a while?’

‘I don’t like Curley. He ain’t a nice man.’

‘this here’s my room. Nobody got any right in here but me.’

‘I ain’t wanted in the bunkhouse, and you ain’t wanted in my room.’

‘s’pose you didn’t have nobody…?’

‘this is just a nigger talking and a back busted nigger.’

‘I never get to talk to nobody. I get awful lonely.’

‘I coulda been somebody… I could a been in pictures.’

‘look Lennie if you just happen to get in trouble like you always done before, I want you to come right back here and hide in the brush.’

‘Because I got you to look after me and you got me…’

‘Ever’ damn one of ’em’s got land in his head. An never a damn one of ’em ever gets it. Just like heaven… nobody ever gets to heaven and nobody never gets no land… it’s just in their head.’

‘Must be nice to have a room all to yourself this way.”

‘you god damn right we’re gonna do it.’

‘Ever’ body wants a little bit of land. Not much. Just somethin’ that was his.’

‘If you guys would want a hand to work for nothing – just his keep, why I’d come and lend a hand.’


Or     How does Steinbeck show that Lennie was always going to get into trouble? [Use the bullet points!]

  • What Lennie is like: childlike, animal like, simple, cunning, forgetful, manipulative; also previous incidents – Weed, the Sacramento River; his fondness for soft things; his lack of understanding of the significance of death.
  • The things that Lennie does: takes and hides the puppy; kills the mouse; holds onto the girl’s dress in Weed, jumps into the river…
  • How Lennie behaves with other characters: innocent of undercurrents of tension; admires Curley’s wife; slow to pick up on body language nuance. Looks to George for guidance.
  • How Steinbeck show that Lennie’s death is unavoidable: George’s fall back plan; George recognises Curley’s wife as jail bait and warns Lennie away from her but he likes pretty things and can’t keep his eyes off her; Weed and the dead mouse are obvious omens; Candy’s dog also a clue and Candy’s response after its death
  • Conclusion: Even the dream is a clue; in real life dreams don’t often come true and for theirs to come true would be going against the nature of the story, so we realise something will happen to prevent its realisation.


Now find quotes to support your points.


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