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Of Mice and Men Quotations

Remember when you are tackling Section B in the Of Mice and Men exam you must use quotations from the rest of the text and not the extract. You only have 20 minutes or so to write your answer so flicking through the book can waste time.

Here are some key quotations you might want to try to remember to give yourself more time in the exam.

Chapter 1:

George ‘restless eyes and sharp, strong features. Every part of him was defined’
Lennie is George’s ‘opposite’, ‘dragging his feet a little, the way a bear drags his paws’
George ‘That’s all you ever can remember is them rabbits.’
Calls Lennie a ‘crazy bastard’ and a ‘good boy’.
‘God, you’re a lots of trouble…I could get a long so easy and so nice if I didn’t have you on my tail.’
‘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.’
Lennie – ‘Because…because I got you to look after me, and you got me to look after you.’
‘An’ live off the fatta the lan’.’
George – ‘You ain’t gonna get in no trouble, because if you do, I won’t let you tend the rabbits.’

Chapter 2:

Boss – ‘On his head was a soiled brown Stetson hat, and he wore high-heeled boots and spurs to prove he was not a labouring man.’
“What stake you got in this guy?”
Curley – ‘His glance was at once calculating and pugnacious’ ‘angry little man’
Candy says Curley is ‘pretty handy’ ‘He hates big guys’ ‘Curley’s pants is full of ants.’
Lennie looks to George for ‘instruction’
George – ‘Lennie’s strong and quick and Lennie don’t know no rules.’
Candy on Curley’s wife – ‘she’s got the eye’ ‘a tart’
Many characters refer to Crooks as ‘Stable Buck’ and ‘nigger’ rather than by his name.
G - “Hide in the brush by the river.”
Curley’s wife – ‘She had full, rouged lips and wide-spaced eyes, heavily made up’
Lennie calls her ‘purty’ and George calls her ‘poison’ and ‘jail-bait’
Slim – ‘he moved with a majesty only achieved by royalty and master craftsmen’ ‘the prince of the ranch’
George on Lennie, to Slim ‘We kinda look after each other.’ ‘Hell of a nice fella, but he ain’t bright.’
Slime to George - “Maybe everybody in the whole world is scared of each other,”

Chapter 3:

Slim – calls Lennie a ‘cuckoo’ ‘Guy don’t need no sense to be a nice fella.’ ‘He’s jes’ like a kid.’
‘Slim’s opinions were law’
Slim – ‘I wisht somebody’d shoot me if I get old an’ a cripple.’
Crooks’ face is ‘lined with pain’
DREAM  George - ‘we’d have our own place where we belonged and not sleep in no bunk-house’ ‘It’d be our own, an’ nobody could can us’
‘This thing they had never really believed in was coming true.’
Candy – ‘I ought to of shot that dog myself.’
Carlson on Curley – ‘god-damn punk’
FIGHT  George says ’Get him, Lennie’
Curley ‘flopping like a fish on a line’ (same simile used for Curley’s wife when she is killed)

Chapter 4:

Crooks is ‘a proud, aloof man. He kept his distance and demanded that other people keep theirs’
‘had accumulated more possessions than he could carry on his back’
‘I can’t play because I’m black. They say I stink.’
‘This is just a nigger talkin’, an’ a busted-back nigger. So it don’t mean nothing, see?’
‘A guy needs somebody…A guy goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody.’
‘Just like heaven. Ever’body wants a little piece of lan’’
‘It was difficult for Crooks to conceal his pleasure with anger’
‘I’d come an’ lend a hand.’
‘You got no rights comin’ in a coloured man’s room.’
Curley’s wife on Crooks – ‘I could get you strung up on a tree so easy it ain’t even funny.’
Crooks had reduced himself to nothing. There was no personality, no ego – nothing to arouse either like or dislike.’
Curley’s wife on Curley’s hand – ‘He got it comin’ to him’

Chapter 5:

‘Now I won’t get to tend the rabbits’ ‘He rocked himself back and forth in his sorrow’ (like a child)
Curley’s wife – ‘I never get to talk to nobody. I get awful lonely.’
‘I could made somethin’ of myself…Maybe I will yet.’
‘Coulda been in the movies.’
‘I don’t like Curley. He ain’t a nice fella.’
On Lennie ‘Jus’ like a big baby.’
‘Her body flopped like a fish’
‘He pawed up the hay.’
George – ‘We can’t let ‘im get away. Why, the poor bastard’d starve…Maybe they’ll lock ‘im up an’ be nice to ‘im.’
‘Lennie never done it in meanness.’
Candy – ‘You god-damn tramp’ ‘you lousy tart’

Chapter 6:

George tells Lennie about the dream, just before he shoots Lennie – ‘Lennie giggled with happiness’
George – ‘Ever’body gonna be nice to you. Ain’t gonna be no more trouble. Nobody gonna hurt nobody nor steal from ‘em.’ (HEAVEN / UTOPIA)
On killing Lennie – ‘I just done it.’
Slim - ‘You hadda, George.’

By request here are a few exam questions you can practise with:

Part a)

Extract 1

In this passage, how does Steinbeck set the atmosphere in the opening? Refer closely to the passage in your answer.

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. On one side of the river the golden foothill slopes curve up to the strong and rocky Gabilan mountains, but on the valley side the water is lined with trees—willows fresh and green with every spring, carrying in their lower leaf junctures the debris of the winter’s flooding; and sycamores with mottled, white, recumbent limbs and branches that arch over the pool. On the sandy bank under the trees the leaves lie deep and so crisp that a lizard makes a great skittering if he runs among them. Rabbits come out of the brush to sit on the sand in the evening, and the damp flats are covered with the night tracks of ’coons, and with the spread pads of dogs from the ranches, and with the split-wedge tracks of deer that come to drink in the dark.
There is a path through the willows and among the sycamores, a path beaten hard by boys coming down from the ranches to swim in the deep pool, and beaten hard by tramps who come wearily down from the highway in the evening to jungleup near water. In front of the low horizontal limb of a giant sycamore there is an ash pile made by many fires; the limb is worn smooth by men who have sat on it.
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. And then from the direction of the state highway came the sound of footsteps on crisp sycamore leaves. The rabbits hurried noiselessly for cover. A stilted heron labored up into the air and pounded down river. For a moment the place was lifeless, and then two men emerged from the path and came into the opening by the green pool.
They had walked in single file down the path, and even in the open one stayed behind the other. Both were dressed in denim trousers and in denim coats with brass buttons. Both wore black, shapeless hats and both carried tight blanket rolls slung over their shoulders. The first man was small and quick, dark of face, with restless eyes and sharp, strong features. Every part of him was defined: small, strong hands, slender arms, a thin and bony nose. Behind him walked his opposite, a huge man, shapeless of face, with large, pale eyes, with wide, sloping shoulders; and 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.

Extract 2

How does the writer use details in this passage to present Curley?

At that moment a young man came into the bunkhouse; a thin young man with a brown
face, with brown eyes and a head of tightly curled hair. He wore a work glove on his left
hand, and like the boss, he wore high-heeled boots. ‘Seen my old man?’ he asked.
The swamper said: ‘He was here jus’ a minute ago, Curley. Went over to the cookhouse,
I think.’
‘I’ll try to catch him,’ said Curley. His eyes passed over the new men and he stopped. He
glanced coldly at George and then at Lennie. His arms gradually bent at the elbows and
his hands closed into fists. He stiffened and went into a slight crouch. His glance was at
once calculating and pugnacious. Lennie squirmed under the look and shifted his feet
nervously. Curley stepped gingerly close to him.
‘You the new guys the old man was waitin’ for?’
‘We just come in,’ said George.
‘Let the big guy talk.’
Lennie twisted with embarrassment.
George said: ‘S’pose he don’t want to talk?’
Curley lashed his body around. ‘By Christ, he’s gotta talk when he’s spoke to. What the
hell are you gettin’ into it for?’
‘We travel together,’ said George coldly.
‘Oh, so it’s that way.’
George was tense and motionless. ‘Yeah, it’s that way.’
Lennie was looking helplessly to George for instruction.
‘An’ you won’t let the big guy talk, is that it?’
‘He can talk if he want to tell you anything.’ He nodded slightly to Lennie.
‘We jus’ come in,’ said Lennie softly.
Curley stared levelly at him. ‘Well, nex’ time you answer when you’re spoke to.’ He
turned towards the door and walked out, and his elbows were still bent out a little.

Part b)
  • In the rest of the novel how does Steinbeck use Crooks to present attitudes to black people at the time the novel is set?
  • How does Steinbeck present attitudes to women in the society in which the novel is set?
  • How does Steinbeck use the relationship of George and Lennie in the novel as a whole to convey ideas about America in the 1930s?
  • How do you think Steinbeck uses the character of Candy in the novel as a whole to
    convey important ideas about society at that time?
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+ comments + 7 comments

19 May 2013 at 13:38


In this passage Steinbeck gives the impression of life outside the ranch, being very peaceful and content. Steinbeck gives the impression that the world outside the workplace is like a dream. He gives this impression by using detailed descriptions of the view to help us see what George and Lennie see. He uses phrases such as, “golden foothill slopes curve up to the strong and rocky Gabilan mountains”. This highly detailed description gives us a brief view in our minds that this place is very natural and non-tampered with ranches and farms.

He uses animals to aid our imagination of what is given to us in the views of the first chapter. He uses animals to extend the peacefulness of this place, the use of movement helps create the peaceful mood of this eden-like scenery. He describes their movement, “a lizard makes a great skittering if he runs among them.”, The use of the word “skittering” creates the sound of a light, swift calmness to the scenery making us imagine it as if we are actually there.


19 May 2013 at 14:31

Jordan - your skills of analysis are good. You could develop depth to your analysis by giving an alternate interpretation of the quotation you use.

You could also add to this by linking the setting to an idea that Steinbeck may be exploring.

Well done though!

Chris Hambling
19 May 2013 at 17:01

(Timed myself for 10 minutes)

In ‘Of Mice and Men’ Steinbeck manages to use the relationship between George and Lennie to present ideas about America in the 1930’s. In particular, he manages to use George and Lennie to portray thoughts and opinions on companionship. For example, we see this in the first chapter within the line “because I got you to look after me, and you got me to look after you.” With this, we can instantly see the two character’s dependence on each other to hopefully achieve their own, personal American dream. They feel as if they can’t look after themselves, so they look out for one another to ensure their safety. The words ‘look after’ can also indicate a sense of simplicity within their task, which can make us readers seem at ease with the fate of the two characters. However, we can also debate that this is used to imply a sense of weakness rather than a strong companionship. Because in using this line, we readers can question the integrity of the two characters as they so strongly rely on each other. It can lead to the statement that there is no George without Lennie, and no Lennie without George. Conclusively, this can relate back to the writers overall message that friendship is a strong bond which should be treated with care. Sometimes there will be difficult tasks and obstacles to overcome as we are told of the hardship the two have previously been through. But if you stick with each other, you can make it out to the other side. Also, this manages to link within the historical social context of the story, giving us a decent insight to 1930’s America. As these two characters come across lonely and financially depressed labourers, we are able to see the significance of friendship as it seems that everyone is in competition with the ones they’re close with, as if Steinbeck is trying to emphasise the idea that “maybe everybody in the whole world is scared of each other”. And so using this friendship can really highlight the contrast between companionship and independence as several characters look upon the two in somewhat jealousy. It could even imply that humans are weak and they always need someone to fall back upon as most of the characters are lonely ‘losers’ in the game that is life itself.

19 May 2013 at 17:27

The analysis and evaluation within this answer is high level but it does lack the sharp focus on task needed for the top band.

The question asks about Steinbeck's use of George and Lennie to convey ideas about 30s America. Though your tackling of the question is in-depth it needs to consistently link back to the idea of Steinbeck making a point about 30s America.

You do this at the end but for full marks would need to be more consistent.

13 May 2014 at 19:02

Steinbeck’s ‘Of Mice and Men’ can be argued by critics to be a novella used to reflect the brutality of the lives of the migrant workers in 1930’s America and the futility of the American Dream, illustrated not only through George and Lennie, but the other workers on the ranch, like Candy. However, Steinbeck also wanted to portray the forced­authority that some people had over others during this period, which he does through the character of Curley – a representation of violence and power within 1930’s America.

One of the ways in which Steinbeck successfully presents Curley is through the use of the semantic field of violence, in “pugnacious”, “stiffened” and “fists”. Particularly, the use of the word “pugnacious” brings in the connotations of belligerence, as if Curley’s prime instinct is to use violence ­ perhaps an indication for his actions later in the novel. Another reader might comment on the plosive­nature of the word “pugnacious”, which suggests that Steinbeck wanted to highlight the innate violence concealed within Curley: he even speaks with aggression. This causes the readers to interpret that Curley’s violence that Steinbeck is explicitly representing is going to make him the novel’s antagonist. Additionally, with the idea of violence, Steinbeck's successful use of the word "fists" highlights how his aggression towards Lennie is concealed ­ and he will never let go of his anger ­ albeit this might cause one reader to interpret how later in the novel, he might open his “fists” and let his anger out.

Steinbeck also portrays a juxtaposition in the characteristics of Curley. Through Curley’s dialect, Steinbeck integrates imperative verbs, such as “let”, and questions. The imperative verbs create a very commanding tone, almost as if to show that Curley feels authoritative in comparison to Lennie and George, while the questions give a sense of interrogation. Steinbeck specifically uses the structure of the rhetorical questions effectively, as they increase in interrogation, since the sentences become shorter. This is almost a representation of how Curley’s use of violence will increase later in the novel. In particular, the use of the word “big guy” is used in one of the rhetorical questions, almost a manifestation of his thoughts: “big” suggests power and superiority, hence highlighting Curley’s feelings of belittlement around Lennie. Steinbeck’s effective use of juxtaposition here between Curley’s power and his Napoleon Complex represents how exploiting his power is his only resolution to shield his belittlement. This makes the reader draw parallels to 1930’s America, where many people abused their power ­ which was often forced ­ as shown by Steinbeck through Curley’s “high­heeled boots”. It’s almost as if Steinbeck intentionally uses the character of Curley here so that he can represent how, despite the power you had, everyone in 1930’s America had some weakness within.

Michaela Coulthard
11 March 2015 at 18:12

I think that Steinbeck presents the relationship of George and Lennie throughout the whole novel as like a father-son relationship, because George is acting as a father figure to Lennie, who's a bit childish/forgetful. The word "Gi'me that mouse" says that George is controlling and demanding over Lennie.

19 March 2015 at 19:42


You have got the right idea about the relationship between George and Lennie but you would need to use more quotations to develop higher marks.

In addition to this, when you look at your quotations, you could try to carry out more analysis of your key words.

For example:

'Gi'me' is a command clearly showing George's power of Lennie.

Well done and keep up the good work.

Mr Milne

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