LBC - Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck



Of Mice and Men is a novella written by Nobel Prize-winning author John Steinbeck, published in 1937.

This book tells the tragic story of George Milton and Lennie Small, two displaced migrant ranch workers during the Great Depression in California. Based on Steinbeck's own experiences as a bindlestiff in the 1920s (before the arrival of the Okies he would vividly describe in The Grapes of Wrath), the title is taken from Robert Burns's poem, To a Mouse, which read: "The best laid schemes o' mice an' men / Gang aft agley." (Go oft awry) Required reading in many high schools, Of Mice and Men has been a frequent target of censors for vulgarity and what some consider offensive language; consequently, it appears on the American Library Association's list of the Most Challenged Books of 21st Century.

LOST References

Mice n men

  • Sawyer is seen reading the book while in prison.
  • Sawyer passes time by reading Of Mice and Men. He later references the book, and Ben quotes from it Every Man for Himself
  • A track on the season 4 soundtrack is called Of Mice and Ben. It plays during a montage of various characters on the island and freighter, concluding with Ben approaching and being knocked out by Keamy. There's No Place Like Home, Part 1
  • Three years later, Sawyer tells the Man in Black that Steinbeck is his favorite author. The Man in Black says he has never heard of the book as it is "after his time." The Substitute

The Author

John Steinbeck was an American writer. He wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Grapes of Wrath (1939) and East of Eden (1952) and the novella Of Mice and Men (1937). He wrote a total of twenty-seven books, including sixteen novels, six non-fiction books and five collections of short stories. In 1962, Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Also See: LBC - LOST Book Club Authors


I was a bindlestiff myself for quite a spell. I worked in the same country that the story is laid in. The characters are composites to a certain extent. Lennie was a real person. He's in an insane asylum in California right now. I worked alongside him for many weeks. He didn't kill a girl. He killed a ranch foreman. Got sore because the boss had fired his pal and stuck a pitchfork right through his stomach. I hate to tell you how many times. I saw him do it. We couldn't stop him until it was too late.

--John Steinbeck, interview by The New York Times, 1937

The Characters

George Milton: A quick-witted man who is friends with Lennie. He looks after Lennie and dreams of a better life.

Lennie Small: A mentally disabled, but physically strong man who travels with George. He dreams of "living off the fatta' the lan'" and being able to tend to rabbits.

Candy: A ranch worker (described as a "swamper") who lost a hand in an accident and is near the end of his useful life on the ranch. He wishes to join Lennie and George in their "dream" of a homestead.

Candy's dog: A blind dog who is described as "old" and "crippled"

Curley: The boss' son, a young, pugnacious character, once a semi-professional boxer. He is described by others, with some irony, as "handy". He is very jealous and protective of his wife and immediately develops a dislike toward Lennie.

Curley's wife: A young, pretty woman, who is mistrusted by her husband, Curley. The other characters refer to her only as "Curley's wife," which makes her the only significant character in the novel without a name. This lack of personal definition underscores this character's purpose in the story: Steinbeck explained that she is "not a person, she's a symbol."

Slim: A "jerkline skinner," the main driver of a mule team. Slim is greatly respected by many of the characters and is the only character that Curley treats with respect.

Crooks: The only black ranch-hand. Like Candy, he is crippled. His nickname refers to a crooked back resulting from being kicked by a horse. He sleeps segregated from the other workers and is embittered from discrimination. He is frequently seen rubbing liniment into his spine.

Carlson: A "thick bodied" ranch-hand.

Whit: A ranch-hand.

The Boss: Curley's father, the superintendent of the ranch. The ranch is owned by "a big land company" according to Candy.

Aunt Clara: Lennie's Aunt, only mentioned in references to the past.

Discussion Points

  • Why were the creators and writers of LOST inspired by this book?
  • What is unique about the setting of the story?
Does this setting enhance or take away from the story?
  • What specific themes are discovered throughout the story?
Do you see any themes also relating to the story of LOST?
What is the message conveyed by the story themes?
  • Do the characters seem real and believable?
Which characters remind you of similar characters in LOST?
Are their predicaments similar to any in LOST?
  • How do characters change or evolve in the story?
What triggers those changes?
What are the similarities and differences with LOST characters?
How are they the same/different from LOST's philosophical views?
  • Do you see any metaphors or symbolism in the characters, themes, philosophy, or setting of this book?
How are they similar or different to metaphors/symbolism in LOST?

Discussion Guidelines

  • Keep the discussion related to the specific book and related LOST content.
  • Be specific and provide examples to back up your point of view.
  • To make the discussion more interesting, feel free to ask your own questions.
  • Please be considerate of all points of view.
  • Encourage participation.

Happy Reading and Thanks!

--Just Sayin' JSTalk LBC LBCTalk eMail 14:02, September 2, 2010 (UTC)

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