->''The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men\\
Gang aft agley[[note]]Scots, "often go wrong"[[/note]],\\
An' lea'e[[note]]Scots, "leave"[[/note]] us nowt[[note]]Scots, "nothing"[[/note]] but grief an' pain\\
For promis'd joy!''
-->-- '''Creator/RobertBurns''', "To a Mouse"

''Of Mice and Men'' is a 1937 novel, one of Creator/JohnSteinbeck's most famous, set during TheGreatDepression. It involves Lennie Small (a mentally-impaired GentleGiant) and George Milton, migrant workers who arrive on a California farm and hope to save up enough money to open a rabbit farm, but … things go pretty wrong.

One of the most challenged books of the 20th and 21st centuries and a frequent target of censors, who criticized it for bad language,[[note]]The far-right Reform Party of Canada attempted to have it banned in public schools in the city of Winnipeg in 2000; nothing came of the effort.[[/note]] "promoting euthanasia" and being "anti-business". However, it remains very popular and is a widely used SchoolStudyMedia. It has also had several film adaptations, including theatrical releases in 1939 and 1992 and made-for-TV versions in 1968 and 1981.
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!!This novel contains examples of:
* AccidentalMurder: [[spoiler:Lennie kills Curley's wife]].
* TheAce: Slim.
* ActionPrologue: The 1939 film version opens with George and Lennie running from [[TorchesAndPitchforks an angry mob]] from Weed and jumping a passing freight train. (And it all happens before the opening credits. This was one of the first Hollywood films, if not ''the'' first, to open this way.)
* AdaptationExpansion:
** The 1992 film. It adds scenes not present in the book such as showing scenes where the men are working, Curley's wife flirting with George in the barn, and BookEnds where George is hitching a ride on a train.
** Steinbeck's own play version of the book, in which he expands on a few characters for the purposes of drama. (Note that the ''book itself'' may be performed as a play without changing a word, and it was written for this purpose, but a few dramatists wanted a longer version.)
* AndCallHimGeorge: Lennie loves cute and cuddly animals. Only he loves them too much for their safety.
* AssholeVictim: Curley's wife in the book, due to her threatening to have Crooks lynched. However, in the movie she is more sympathetic and does not have a problem with Crooks.
* BetterToDieThanBeKilled: [[spoiler:It's George who [[ShootTheDog decides what's best for Lennie]]: a quick, painless death he doesn't see coming, instead of a much uglier end at the hands of a lynch mob]].
* BeigeProse: At some points. {{Justified|Trope}} in that this was originally written to be a screenplay.
* BewareTheNiceOnes: Curley started that fight, and Lennie finished it.
* BigGuyLittleGuy: Lennie and George respectively.
* BilingualBonus: Soledad, the name of the nearby town, means 'solitary'. English teachers everywhere squee at the mention of this.
* BodyMotifs: Curley has a hand motif: His glove full of Vaseline, his status as a prized fighter, and how his hands are [[spoiler: broken by Lennie]].
* BoisterousWeakling: Curley.
-->'''Candy''': S'pose Curley jumps a big guy an' licks him. Ever'body says what a game guy Curley is. [[HeadsIWinTailsYouLose And s'pose he does the same thing and gets licked]]. Then ever'body says the big guy oughtta pick on somebody his own size, and maybe they gang up on the big guy.
* BookDumb: George. Has cunning and intelligent moments, but has almost no education. He also points out once that he's only smart in comparison to Lennie.
* BookEnds [[spoiler: The story begins and ends with George and Lennie sitting by the pool by the river. At the beginning of the story, it's a sanctuary of hope and confidence. At the end, It's the place where George is forced to kill his best friend.]]
* BullyingADragon: Curley picking a fight with Lennie.
* TheCaretaker: George to Lennie.
* ChekhovsGun: Carlson's Luger.
* ChildhoodBrainDamage: George tells the ranch owner that Lennie was kicked in the head by a horse as a child to explain why he's mentally slow. Lennie has to ask George about it afterwards as he doesn't know whether it's true or not -- George then says it's not true.
* ChronicPetKiller: Played for sadness.
* CloudCuckoolander: Lennie.
* CloudCuckoolandersMinder: George is one of the best examples out there. He makes sure Lennie stays safe, keeps him fed, explains his oddities to other people, and finally [[spoiler:[[ShootTheDog sends him to the afterlife himself]] rather than let a lynch mob do the job]].
* CompleteTheQuoteTitle: The title is taken from the Robert Burns poem "To a Mouse". The line where it occurs goes in full "The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men / Gang aft agley". [[spoiler: It foreshadowes how the plans of the main characters will go unfullfilled due to tragic circumstances.]]
* ConspicuousGloves: Curley wears a glove full of Vaseline on one hand, supposedly because he's keeping that hand soft for his wife. This has no plot-relevant reason, but does make the theatrical adaptation easier to stage [[spoiler: when his hand gets crushed]].
* ConversationCasualty: [[spoiler:At the end of the book, George is calmly talking to Lennie about the farm they've always dreamed of; he asks Lennie to close his eyes while talking, and George pulls out a gun and shoots him in the head. A non-villainous version, as George is doing this so that Lennie will die calm and happy]].
* CrapsackWorld: Well, it ''is'' set in TheGreatDepression...
* CrouchingMoronHiddenBadass: Oh sure, Lennie is dumb as a post and pretty gentle to boot, but Curley's crushed hand will testify that he is not someone you provoke.
* ADeathInTheLimelight: [[spoiler:Curley's wife unpacks all her secrets throughout Chapter 5, right before she gets killed.]]
* DepartmentOfRedundancyDepartment: 'Candy's been sharpening his pencil and sharpening and thinking.'
* DoesNotKnowHisOwnStrength: Lennie, possibly the TropeCodifier.
* DownerEnding: C'mon, you know you cried. [[spoiler:Lennie dies and George is shattered. The farm was as much his dream as Lennie's, and he took pride and enjoyed taking care of his companion.]]
* DumbMuscle: Lennie is a deconstruction of this trope, with almost all the death in the book is caused by Lennie accidentally killing something, due to his strength, and not realizing this until it is too late.
* {{Foreshadowing}}:
** The whole scene about Candy's dog foreshadowed the end of the book.
** Chapter 5 has been nicknamed "The Foreshadowing Chapter" by some, as almost every event in it was foreshadowed at an earlier point in the novel.
* FromBadToWorse: Things weren't so good when Lennie unintentionally puts him and George into trouble more than a few times, but when [[spoiler: Curley's wife gets drawn into the picture]], that's when things start going off the deep end.
* GentleGiant: Lennie is huge and loves cuddly animals and soft things. The problem is that because of his inability to control his strength, he frequently kills pets when cuddling them.
* HaveAGayOldTime: Curley's wife is referred to as "jail bait" a number of times, but she is not underage, it is used to mean that the workers are worried that she would accuse them of rape if they crossed her, and end up in prison.
* HeterosexualLifePartners: It's very easy to mistakenly assume the two protagonists are brothers. George uses this to his advantage, telling everyone that Lennie is his cousin.
* HisStoryRepeatsItself: Lennie has a history of getting in trouble for touching soft things.
* HopeSpot: When [[spoiler:George, Lennie and Candy club together to raise the money to buy the ranch George talks about. It doesn't last.]]
* HotMenAtWork: George in the 1992 movie. Gary Sinise fangirls call him 'Georgeous George'.
* ICouldaBeenAContender: Curley's Wife. At least she thinks so.
* IJustWantToHaveFriends:
** Curley's wife is lonely and just wants to talk to the workers. They avoid her because they don't want to have trouble with her husband.
** Crooks longs for companionship, although he's less open about it and masks his loneliness with surliness.
* INeverGotAnyLetters: Invoked.
* IronicName: Lennie is a giant of a man and his last name is Small. It's lampshaded (rather obviously) by Carlson, who finds this funny.
* {{Jerkass}}:
** There's a reason no one on the farm likes Curley.
** Carlson to a lesser extent.
** While George's frustration with Lennie is at times understandable, there are other times when he outright verbally abuses him.
* LaserGuidedKarma: When Curley picks on big guys, Lennie in particular, Lennie breaks every bone in his hand. When George and Lennie are nice to Candy, he offers them three hundred dollars to make their dream a reality. That seems to be the way it works around here.
* LethallyStupid: Lennie. Not only to his pets.
* LetsGetDangerous: Lennie again. A really nice guy, only to turn around and just break Curley's hand effortlessly. Be afraid.
* LiteraryAllusionTitle: From Rabbie Burns' "To a Mouse". [[GeniusBonus If you know the rest of the poem]], you won't be expecting a HappyEnding.
* ManChild: To Lennie, the CutenessProximity may as well be a mile wide in all directions.
* MercyKill: [[spoiler:George shoots Lennie in the back of the head to spare him the agony of being killed by Curley, locked in a cage, or whatever else may have happened.]]
* TheNapoleon: Curley.
* NoNameGiven: Curley's wife, The Boss.
* PintsizedPowerhouse: Curley.
* RegalRinglets: Curley's wife has hair "coiled like sausages".
* ResentfulGuardian: George once laments early on that if not for having to spend money on Lennie and his moments of stupidity interfering with his plans, he could spend his money as he wanted. Then again, this was said in a fit of anger that Lennie caused, [[spoiler:and once Lennie is killed, George is clearly not at all happy about the future that awaits him]].
* RuleOfSymbolism: Steinbeck's use of animals, in many ways.
* ShootTheDog: ''Literally'', also [[spoiler:shoot the big guy.]]
* ShootTheShaggyDog: Steinbeck loves this trope.
* TheSmurfettePrinciple: Curley's wife is the only female character that physically appears in the book.
* SpellMyNameWithAnS: It's "Lennie" in the text, not "Lenny".
* SuddenlyVoiced: Free points in your essay for saying that the bit in the last chapter where Lennie visualizes his Aunt Clara telling him off is the first and only time we actually hear what the characters are thinking.
* SurvivalMantra: George's story about the farm with the rabbits is this for both him and Lennie. He's recited it so many times that Lennie has it memorized, but would rather hear it from George.
* TellMeAgain: Played for its usual purpose as {{Exposition}} in the first chapter, but justified since Lennie's mental disabilities affect his short-term memory.
* ThemeNaming: '''C'''urley, '''C'''arlson, '''C'''andy, '''C'''rooks…seems to be a lot of people around Soledad with names that start with '''C'''. Fittingly enough, the book is set in '''C'''alifornia.
* TragicDream: After [[spoiler:Lennie accidentally kills Curley's wife]], George concedes that their dream could never have been realized.
* UnwittingInstigatorOfDoom: Curley's wife's actions near the end made things go downhill from there.
* VagabondBuddies: George and Lennie.
* WhamEpisode: Chapter 5.
* YankTheDogsChain: The entire novel is built on this trope.

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