Of Mice and Men - Cultural References

Setting | Character Census | Plot Synopsis | Critical Reception
Cultural References | Key Terms and Concepts

Of Mice and Men (1939) publicity still. Betty Field (Mae) and Bob Steele (Curley).Of Mice and Men (1939) publicity still. Betty Field (Mae) and Bob Steele (Curley).

Bindle: A bag, sack, or carrying device.

Bindle Stiff: Hobo; transient who carries his belongings in a sack.

Bunk House: A sleeping quarters intended for use by multiple people. 

Talcum Powder: Very similar in texture to baby powder, talcum powder was used mainly after bathing or shaving.

Apple Box: A box used for storage or as a stepstool capable of holding a person's weight. 

Scourges: A widespread affliction, an epidemic illness or the consequence of some natural disaster, likke fire, flood, or a migration of locusts..

Pants Rabbits: A sexually transmitted disease, known as pubic lice. 

Graybacks: The equivalent of ticks or lice.

Liniment: A topical cream for the skin that helps with pain or rashes.

Jerkline Skinner: Lead driver of a team of mules

Stable Buck: A derogatory name for an African-American man who works in the stables.

Stetson Hat: A famous brand of hats, especially cowboy hats.

Stetson Hat

Swamper: A general assistant; handyman.

Murray and Ready: An employment agency, specializing in farm work.

Work Slips: Proof that people had been hired to do a job.

Cultivator: A farming tool used to stir and soften the soil either before or after planting.

Cesspool: A well or pit filled with drainage or sewage.

SloughA muddy or marshy area.

Tart: A woman who tempts men or who is sexually promiscuous.

Buck Barley: To throw large bags of barley on a truck.

Lynch: To illegally execute a person, generally applied to the hanging and/or burning of African-Americans in the south.

Slug of Whiskey: Equivalent to a hipflask of whiskey.

Gut Ache: A stomach ache.

Airedale: A type of dog, specifically Terrier.

Pulp Magazine: During the 1920s-1950s, inexpensive fiction magazines. From 1950 on, the term also came to represent mass market paperbacks.

Luger: The Luger pistol was an expensive, high maintenance weapon manufactured and used primarily in the German army.


Euchre: A card game played in England, Canada, and some parts of the U.S.

Two Bits: Twenty-Five cents. 

Rag Rug: Rugs created from rags that were tied together by knots.

Kewpie Doll: A particular style of doll, one that was usually won at carnivals.

Phonograph: The first device for recording and playing sound, most specifically music.

Parlor House: Could be considered a restaurant, but more often parlor houses were brothels.

Hutches: A form of furniture, very similar to a wardrobe.

Welter: A boxer (refers to welterweight, a weight class in boxing).

Nail keg: A wooden barrel that could usually hold 100 pounds or more inside.

Russian Hill: Affluent residential neighborhood in San Francisco, California.

Travels with a Donkey: Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes (1879), one of Robert Louis Stevenson's earliest published works.

Varro: Marcus Terentius Varro (116-29 B.C.E.)Roman scholar/author and horticulturist.

Velasquez's Cardinal: Seventeenth-century painting by Spanish painter Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velazquez.

Zane Grey: American adventure novelist (1872-1939).


Setting | Character Census | Plot Synopsis | Critical Reception
Cultural References | Key Terms and Concepts