Of Mice and Men - Characters (CCEA)

1

Read the extract below and use it to answer questions 1-3.

Curley stepped over to Lennie like a terrier. "What the hell you laughin’ at?"

Lennie looked blankly at him. "Huh?"

Then Curley’s rage exploded. "Come on, ya big bastard. Get up on your feet. No big son-of-a-bitch is gonna laugh at me. I’ll show you who’s yella."

Lennie looked helplessly at George, and then he got up and tried to retreat. Curley was balanced and poised. He slashed at Lennie with his left, and then smashed down his nose with a right. Lennie gave a cry of terror. Blood welled from his nose. "George," he cried. "Make ‘um let me alone, George." He backed until he was against the wall, and Curley followed, slugging him in the face. Lennie’s hands remained at his sides; he was too frightened to defend himself.

George was on his feet yelling, "Get him, Lennie. Don’t let him do it."

Lennie covered his face with his huge paws and bleated with terror. He cried, "Make ‘um stop, George." Then Curley attacked his stomach and cut off his wind.

Slim jumped up. "The dirty little rat," he cried, "I’ll get ‘um myself."

George put out his hand and grabbed Slim. "Wait a minute," he shouted. He cupped his hands around his mouth and yelled, "Get ‘im, Lennie!"

Lennie took his hands away from his face and looked about for George, and Curley slashed at his eyes. The big face was covered with blood. George yelled again, "I said get him."

Curley’s fist was swinging when Lennie reached for it. The next minute Curley was flopping like a fish on a line, and his closed fist was lost in Lennie’s big hand. George ran down the room. "Leggo of him, Lennie. Let go."

But Lennie watched in terror the flopping little man whom he held. Blood ran down Lennie’s face, one of his eyes was cut and closed. George slapped him on the face again and again, and still Lennie held on to the closed fist. Curley was white and shrunken by now, and his struggling had become weak. He stood crying, his fist lost in Lennie’s paw.

Why does Curley pick a fight with Lennie?

2

Why is Lennie frightened when Curley attacks him, even though he is bigger than him?

3

Why doesn’t Lennie let go of Curley’s fist?

4

Read the extract below and use it to answer questions 4-6.

Crooks laughed again. "A guy can talk to you an’ be sure you won’t go blabbin’. Couple of weeks an’ them pups’ll be all right. George knows what he’s about. Jus’ talks, an’ you don’t understand nothing." He leaned forward excitedly. "This is just a nigger talkin’, an’ a busted-back nigger. So it don’t mean nothing, see? You couldn’t remember it anyways. I seen it over an’ over an’ over – a guy talkin’ to another guy and it don’t make no difference if he don’t hear or understand. The thing is, they’re talkin’, or they’re settin’ still not talkin’. It don’t make no difference, no difference." His excitement had increased until he pounded his knee with his hand. "George can tell you screwy things, and it don’t matter. It’s just the talking. It’s just bein’ with another guy. That’s all." He paused.

His voice grew soft and persuasive. "S’pose George don’t come back no more. S’pose he took a powder and just ain’t coming back. What’ll you do then?"

Lennie’s attention came gradually to what had been said. "What?" he demanded.

"I said s’pose George went into town tonight and you never heard of him no more." Crooks pressed forward some kind of private victory. "Just s’pose that," he repeated.

"He won’t do it," Lennie cried. "George wouldn’t do nothing like that. I been with George a long time. He’ll come back tonight–" but the doubt was too much for him. "Don’t you think he will?"

Why does Crooks say that it doesn’t matter if Lennie doesn’t understand what he’s talking about?

5

Why does Crooks try to trick Lennie into thinking that George won’t come back?

6

What does Lennie’s reaction to Crooks tormenting him about George, suggest about his character?

7

Read the extract below and use it to answer questions 7-10.

Curley’s wife laughed at him. "You’re nuts," she said. "But you’re a kinda nice fella. Jus’ like a big baby. But a person can see kinda what you mean. When I’m doin’ my hair sometimes I jus’ set an’ stroke it ‘cause it’s so soft." To show how she did it, she ran her fingers over the top of her head. "Some people got kinda coarse hair," she said complacently. "Take Curley. His hair is jus’ like wire. But mine is soft and fine. ‘Course I brush it a lot. That makes it fine. Here—feel right here." She took Lennie’s hand and put it on her head. "Feel right aroun’ there an’ see how soft it is."

Lennie’s big fingers fell to stroking her hair.

"Don’t you muss it up," she said.

Lennie said, "Oh! That’s nice," and he stroked harder. "Oh, that’s nice."

"Look out, now, you’ll muss it." And then she cried angrily, "You stop it now, you’ll mess it all up." She jerked her head sideways and Lennie’s fingers closed on her hair and hung on. "Let’s go," she cried. "You let go."

Lennie was in a panic. His face was contorted. She screamed then, and Lennie’s other hand closed over her mouth and nose. "Please don’t," he begged. "Oh! Please don’t do that. George’ll be mad."

She struggled violently under his hands. Her feet battered on the hay and she writhed to be free; and from under Lennie’s hand came a muffled screaming. Lennie began to cry with fright. "Oh! Please don’t do none of that," he begged. "George gonna say I done a bad thing. He ain’t gonna let me tend no rabbits." He moved his hand a little and her hoarse cry came out. Then Lennie grew angry. "Now don’t," he said. "I don’t want you to yell. You gonna get me in trouble jus’ like George says you will. Now don’t you do that." And she continued to struggle, and her eyes were wild with terror. He shook her then, and he was angry with her. "Don’t you go yellin’," he said, and he shook her; and her body flopped like a fish. And then she was still, for Lennie had broken her neck.

He looked down at her, and carefully he removed his hand from over her mouth, and she lay still. "I don’t want ta hurt you," he said, "but George’ll be mad if you yell." When she didn’t answer nor move he bent closely over her. He lifted her arm and let it drop. For a moment he seemed bewildered. And then he whispered in fright, "I done a bad thing. I done another bad thing."

He pawed up the hay until it partly covered her.

Why does Curley’s wife allow Lennie to stroke her hair?

8

Why does Lennie kill Curley’s wife?

9

How does Lennie feel about killing Curley’s wife?

10

Why does Steinbeck use the word pawed to describe Lennie using the hay to cover up Curley’s wife’s body?