Of Mice and Men - Essay Questions

  1. Besides being a place to live, how does the little piece of land that George and Lennie want to own represent freedom to them?  Even though they have the freedom to work where they choose, do you think that they are really free?  Explain.
  2. How does Steinbeck construct loneliness in the story?  Despite living in close proximity, all of the characters seem to be lonely.  Do you think that loneliness is caused by socially imposed barriers, personal choice, or both?  Explain.
  3. Why did Crooks say that he did not want to join Candy, George, and Lennie after all?  What is Steinbeck saying about the constraints of race during the time period of the story?
  4. Considering the fate of Crooks, Candy, Lennie, and Curley's wife, what statement do you think the novel makes about those who are considered outcasts by society?
  5. Had the unfortunate murder of Curley's wife's not occurred, do you think it would be possible for George and Lennie to attain their goals?  What does the killing of Lennie and Curley's wife ultimately imply about the American Dream in the novel?
  6. Though Curley's wife's death was purely accidental, can it be considered a mercy killing, like George's killing of Lennie, or Carlson's killing of Candy's dog?  What might Curley's wife's life have been like had she lived?