Of Mice and Men

Steinbeck, John

Primary Category: Literature / Plays

Genre: Play

Annotated by:
Donley, Carol
  • Date of entry: Feb-19-2002


George tries to take care of his mentally retarded friend, Lennie, whose mental disability makes it impossible for him to judge his powerful strength. Lennie means well and tried hard; he likes soft, furry things, like a mouse and a puppy, both of which he squeezes to death accidentally. Though his great strength is useful on the ranch where he works, his inability to govern his behavior leads him into an accidental homicide. George, not wanting Lennie to live the rest of his life in prison, shoots him in the head as an act of mercy.


This play produced compassion both for the retarded Lennie and his caregiving friend. George becomes terribly frustrated because Lennie cannot learn. Lennie forgets what George has taught him, and, in spite of his best intentions, uses too much force. George shows that caregivers can be overwhelmed by the magnitude of their responsibilities and driven to act in ways they might not otherwise.


Of Mice and Men won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award in 1938. Films based on the play were made in 1939 (starring Burgess Meredith and Lon Chaney, Jr.) and in 1992 (starring John Malcovich and Gary Sinise, with screenplay by Horton Foote).


Viking Penguin

Place Published

New York



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