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Of Mice and Men Quotes by John Steinbeck
Related Quotes:  The Grapes of Wrath

i got you to look after me of mice and men

"Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world. They got no family. They don't belong no place. . . . With us it ain't like that. We got a future. We got somebody to talk to that gives a damn about us. We don't have to sit in no bar room blowin' in our jack jus' because we got no place else to go. If them other guys gets in jail they can rot for all anybody gives a damn. But not us."
Lennie broke in. "But not us! An' why? Because...because I got you to look after me, and you got me to look after you, and that's why."
Of Mice and Men
Chapter 1, George extols the virtues of friendship to Lenny, explaining that they are not like everyone else that work in their profession because they travel together. He reassures him that they will look after each other no matter what happens.


A few miles south of Soledad, the Salinas River drops in close to the hillside bank and runs deep and green. The water is warm too, for it has slipped twinkling over the yellow sands in the sunlight before reaching the narrow pool.
Of Mice and Men
Opening words of novella introduce a mood of peacefulness.


Evening of a hot day started the little wind to moving among the leaves. The shade climbed up the hills toward the top. On the sand banks the rabbits sat as quietly as little gray, sculptured stones.
Of Mice and Men
Chapter 1. The description of the green river and the yellow sands presents a peaceful image, broken only by the entrance of George and Lennie. We are introduced to the land before the men, with the focus on the rabbits when the main characters first arrive.


He walked heavily, dragging his feet a little, the way a bear drags his paws. His arms did not swing at his sides, but hung loosely.
Of Mice and Men
Chapter 1. The first time we see Lennie he is immediately compared to an animal, a bear - a massive and sometimes violent creature.


big vegetable patch and a rabbit hutch john steinbeck

We'll have a big vegetable patch and a rabbit hutch and chickens. And when it rains in the winter, we'll just say the hell with goin' to work, and we'll build up a fire in the stove and set around it an' listen to the rain comin' down on the roof - nuts!
Of Mice and Men
Chapter 1. George talks to Lennie about his version of the American Dream, a place they can call their own where they have the freedom to work or not and come and go as they please. It is a dream that will never come to pass.


You'd drink out of a gutter if you was thirsty.
Of Mice and Men
Chapter 1. Lennie is presented as almost less than human, his mental retardation made obvious by the fact that he is not intelligent enough to check if the water is fresha and clean.


George's hand remained outstretched imperiously. Slowly, like a terrier who doesn't want to bring a ball to its master, Lennie approached, drew back, approached again. George snapped his fingers sharply and Lennie laid the mouse in his hand. "I wasn't doin' nothing bad with it, George. Jus' strokin' it."
Of Mice and Men
Chapter 1. This shows the relationship between George and Lennie. George has taken on the role of father to the simple, childlike Lennie who likes to catch mice and pet them. But because he can't control his own strength, Lennie accidentally kills the pet mice that he hidesd from George inside his pockets.


"Well, we ain't got any," George exploded. "Whatever we ain't got, that's what you want. God a'mighty, if I was alone I could live so easy. I could go get a job an' work, an' no trouble. No mess at all, and when the end of the month come I could take my fifty bucks and go into town and get whatever I want. Why, I could stay in a cathouse all night. I could eat any place I want, hotel or any place, and order any damn thing I could think of. An' I could do all that every damn month. Get a gallon of whisky, or set in a pool room and play cards or shoot pool."
Of Mice and Men
George to Lennie in Chapter 1. George is furious with Lennie for asking for ketchup. He mentions all the things he could have if his friend weren't around. But these things are not as important as his friendship with Lennie, if they were he would have abandoned him long ago.


At about ten o'clock in the morning the sun threw a bright dust-laden bar through one of the side windows, and in and out of the beam flies shot like rushing stars.
Of Mice and Men
Chapter 2. The ray of light is a symbol of hope and belief in the American Dream.


Well, I never seen one guy take so much trouble for another guy. I just like to know what your interest is.
Of Mice and Men
The Boss on George and Lennie's friendship, Chapter 2.


His ear heard more than was said to him, and his slow speech had overtones not of thought, but of understanding beyond thought.
Of Mice and Men
Chapter 2. In this description introducing Slim, he is depicted as a man of deep wisdom and understanding. He is able to look beyond the obvious, probes deeply into a situation and is an excellent judge of people. Not surprising then that the men look up to him and depend on him for support and guidence.


scared of each other quote of mice and men

Slim looked through George and beyond him. "Ain't many guys travel around together," he mused. "I don't know why. Maybe ever'body in the whole damn world is scared of each other."
Of Mice and Men
Chapter 2. Slim on the rarity of friendship and how the fear of other people stops people from building friendships with one another. This is why the friendship between George and Lennie is so special.


Curley's like a lot of little guys. He hates big guys. He's alla time picking scraps with big guys. Kind of like he's mad at 'em because he ain't a big guy.
Of Mice and Men
Candy explains about Curley to George, Chapter 2. Curley takes an immediate dislike to Lennie because he is such a huge guy and attacks him.


Guy don't need no sense to be a nice fella. Seems to me sometimes it jus' works the other way around. Take a real smart guy and he ain't hardly ever a nice fella.
Of Mice and Men
Chapter 3. The wise, insightful and non-judgemental Slim is talking here about Lennie. He is such a "nice fella" he doesn't see he is being targeted by Curley, whom Slim sees as filled with meanness.


We could live offa the fatta the lan'.
Of Mice and Men
Chapter 3, Lennie to George, dreaming of a better life.


All kin's a vegetables in the garden, and if we want a little whisky we can sell a few eggs or something, or some milk. We'd jus' live there. We'd belong there. There wouldn't be no more runnin' round the country and gettin' fed by a Jap cook. No, sir, we'd have our own place where we belonged and not sleep in no bunk house.
Of Mice and Men
Chapter 3. George to Lennie on the worker's dream - a place where they feel they belong and do not have to leave.


I ain't got no people. I seen the guys that go around on the ranches alone. That ain't no good. They don't have no fun. After a long time they get mean. They get wantin' to fight all the time. . . 'Course Lennie's a God damn nuisance most of the time, but you get used to goin' around with a guy an' you can't get rid of him.
Of Mice and Men
George on loneliness and Lennie, Chapter 3


I ought to of shot that dog myself, George. I shouldn't ought to of let no stranger shoot my dog.
Of Mice and Men
Chapter 3. Candy is remorseful over allowing someone who didn't care about his dog to shoot it.


Carl's right, Candy. That dog ain't no good to himself. I wisht somebody'd shoot me if I got old an' a cripple.
Of Mice and Men
Chapter 3. The men try to convince Candy that it is all right to euthanize his dog. The suggestion is that once you get older and are unable to do physical work you are a burden and no use to anyone, even yourself. The same argument will come up again at the end of the novella when George must kill Lennie.


You seen what they done to my dog tonight? They says he wasn't no good to himself nor nobody else. When they can me here I wisht somebody'd shoot me. But they won't do nothing like that. I won't have no place to go, an' I can't get no more jobs.
Of Mice and Men
Chapter 3. A depressed Candy laments his fate. Like the old dog he too has become a castaway. He doesn't know how he will survive if he gets tossed off the ranch.


a guy needs somebody to be near him john steinbeck

S'pose you didn't have nobody. S'pose you couldn't go into the bunk house and play rummy 'cause you was black. How'd you like that? S'pose you had to sit out here an' read books. Sure you could play horseshoes till it got dark, but then you got to read books. Books ain't no good. A guy needs somebody - to be near him. A guy goes nuts if he ain't got nobody. Don't make no difference who the guy is, long's he's with you. I tell ya, I tell ya a guy gets too lonely an' he gets sick.
Of Mice and Men
Chapter 4. Crooks on a black man's loneliness with nobody to talk to because he is so secluded from the social circle.


I seen too many guys with land in their head. They never get none under their hand.
Of Mice and Men
Crooks in Chapter 4. He is deeply pessimistic. Here he quick to point out the big difference a person's dream and the reality.


nobody never gets to heaven john steinbeck

I seen hunderds of men come by on the road an' on the ranches, with their bindles on their back an' that same damn thing in their heads. Hunderds of them. They come, an' they quit an' go on; an' every damn one of 'em's got a little piece of land in his head. An' never a God damn one of 'em ever gets it. Just like heaven. Everybody wants a little piece of lan'. I read plenty of books out here. Nobody never gets to heaven, and nobody gets no land. It's just in their head. They're all the time talkin' about it, but it's jus' in their head.
Of Mice and Men
A cynical Crooks on George and Lennie's dream, Chapter 4. He foresees their dream is going to end in eventual disappointment.


Maybe you guys better go. I ain't sure I want you in here no more. A colored man got to have some rights even if he don't like 'em.
Of Mice and Men
Crooks on human rights, Chapter 4. The social gap between blacks and white is still very apparent. Even though slavery has been abolished, African Americans don't have equal rights.


A guy sets alone out here at night, maybe readin' books or thinkin' or stuff like that. Sometimes he gets thinkin', an' he got nothing to tell him what's so an' what ain't so. Maybe if he sees somethin', he don't know whether it's right or not. He can't turn to some other guy and ast him if he sees it too. He can't tell. He got nothing to measure by. I seen things out here. I wasn't drunk. I don't know if I was asleep. If some guy was with me, he could tell me I was asleep, an' then it would be all right. But I jus' don't know.
Of Mice and Men
Crooks to Lennie in Chapter 4. The themes of loneliness, the predatory nature of people, and discrimination are all addressed here.


If I catch any one man, and he's alone, I get along fine with him. But just let two of the guys get together an' you won't talk. Jus' nothing but mad. You're all scared of each other, that's what. Ever' one of you's scared the rest is goin' to get something on you.
Of Mice and Men
Curley's wife on men, Chapter 4. She speaks of how the men are driven by fears of failure and what dirt other men will get on them, rather than by banding together to fight a common cause. The survival of the fittest is a constant theme throughout the book.


Why do you got to get killed? You ain't so little as mice. I didn't bounce you hard... Now maybe George ain't gonna let me tend no rabbits if he fin's out you got killed.
Of Mice and Men
Lennie in Chapter 5. He is alone in the barn talking to the dead puppy that he accidentally killed.


Why can't I talk to you? I never get to talk to nobody. I get awful lonely.
Of Mice and Men
Chapter 5, Curley's wife talks to Lennie in the barn.


Lennie went back and looked at the dead girl. The puppy lay close to her. Lennie picked it up. "I'll throw him away," he said. "It's bad enough like it is."
Of Mice and Men
Chapter 5. After shaking Curley's wife so hard that he breaks her neck, Lennie knows he has done a bad thing. But he actually thinks it will make it look better if he throws away the puppy.


I think I knowed from the very first. I think I knowed we'd never do her. He usta like to hear about it so much I got to thinking maybe we would.
Of Mice and Men
Chapter 5, George talks about the lost dream after Candy suggests they could still have the farm together. Without Lennie the dream is no more but maybe it never really existed except in talking about it with Lennie.


Lennie said, "I thought you was mad at me, George."
"No," said George. "No, Lennie, I ain't mad. I never been mad, and I ain' now. That's a thing I want ya to know."
Of Mice and Men
Chapter 5. George is trying to wipe all thoughts of sorrow and loneliness from Lennie's mind just before he shoots his friend. He wants his final thoughts to be about their friendship and the dream of the farm and rabbits.


And George raised the gun and steadied it, and he brought the muzzle of it close to the back of Lennie's head. The hand shook violently, but his face set and his hand steadied. He pulled the trigger. The crash of the shot rolled up the hills and rolled down again. Lennie jarred, and then settled slowly forward to the sand, and he lay without quivering.
Of Mice and Men
Chapter 6. George shoots his best friend Lennie in the back of the head, to save him from prison or a worse fate at the hands of Curley.


Slim came directly to George and sat down beside him, sat very close to him. "Never you mind," said Slim. "A guy got to sometimes."
Of Mice and Men
Slim on George's killing of Lennie, Chapter 6. Here Slim takes on the role of priest, comforting George after he just killed Lennie, suggesting it was the right thing to do in the circumstances. George kills Lennie to spare him jail or a painful death at the hands of the mob, after Lennie kills Curley's wife by shaking her so hard her neck breaks.


A water snake glided smoothly up the pool, twisting its periscope head from side to side; and it swam the length of the pool and came to the legs of a motionless heron that stood in the shallows. A silent head and beak lanced down and plucked it out by the head, and the beak swallowed the little snake while its tail waved frantically.
Of Mice and Men
Chapter 6. With the use of powerful imagery and symbolism, Steinbeck paints a picture of the predatory nature of life and foreshadows Lennie's imminent death.

John Steinbeck: American writer of the 1937 novella Of Mice and Men, which tells the tragic story of two displaced migrant ranch workers during the Great Depression in California. Steinbeck was born on February 27, 1902, in Salinas, California, United States. He died on December 20, 1968. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature 1962.


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