This GCSE English Literature quiz takes a look at character in Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck.
John Steinbeck’s novel, Of Mice and Men, is populated with very few characters. These are friends George and Lennie, Curley, Slim, Candy, Crooks, Carlson and Curley’s wife, with only one or two other figures being given names. George and Lennie travel for work while the remainder of the characters are more settled and are attached to the ranch. The arrival of the two friends brings disaster both to their friendship and to lives on the ranch. George and Lennie’s unlikely friendship draws attention, highlighting the crushing loneliness felt by most of the other characters, even where that loneliness is barely acknowledged, such as by Slim. By innocently sharing his dream with Candy and with Crooks, Lennie encourages the other men on the ranch to begin to hope for a better, more companionable future.
These hopes are irrevocably smashed by the encounter between Curley’s lonely wife and Lennie, who is incapable of controlling his own strength and whose greatest fear is disappointing George.
We understand a character through their speech, their actions, and through narratorial descriptions. Of Mice and Men has an omniscient, third-person narrator. The narrator refrains, however, from making any statements about how characters feel, instead showing characters’ emotions to the reader through describing only what can be externally observed in their speech and behaviour. This technique makes the characters appear simultaneously easy to understand and yet fundamentally mysterious and unknowable. Like the characters, the reader must slowly come to appreciate Lennie’s uniqueness and to empathise with George’s sense of responsibility and occasional frustration with his travelling companion.
Answer the questions below to see how well you understand the characters in this novel.
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