Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.
A concise biography of John Steinbeck plus historical and literary context for Of Mice and Men.
A quick-reference summary: Of Mice and Men on a single page.
Detailed Summary & Analysis
In-depth summary and analysis of every chapter of Of Mice and Men. Visual theme-tracking, too.
Explanations, analysis, and visualizations of Of Mice and Men's themes.
Of Mice and Men's important quotes, sortable by theme, character, or chapter.
Description, analysis, and timelines for Of Mice and Men's characters.
Explanations of Of Mice and Men's symbols, and tracking of where they appear.
An interactive data visualization of Of Mice and Men's plot and themes.
Brief Biography of John Steinbeck
John Steinbeck grew up in and around Salinas, California. Steinbeck's comfortable California upbringing instilled in him a love of nature and the land, but also of the diverse ethnic and socioeconomic groups featured throughout his fiction. He attended Stanford University, but never completed his degree. Instead he moved to New York in 1925 to become a freelance writer. He returned to California after that plan failed and earned his first real recognition for Tortilla Flat (1935), a collection of stories about peasant workers in Monterrey, California. He published many more novels throughout his lifetime and today is best known for the novella Of Mice and Men (1937) and the novel The Grapes of Wrath (1939). He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962 and died six years later.
Historical Context of Of Mice and Men
When the stock market crashed in 1929, an already awful situation for farmers and farm workers got considerably worse. Following World War I, crop prices plunged, forcing farmers to expand their farms and buy more equipment to make up for the shortfall. This situation was exacerbated when a severe drought crippled much of the American West. So when the market crashed, farmers could not pay back the debts they had built up in buying more land and equipment. As a result, many farmers and farm workers, migrated to California in hopes of finding enough work to live.
Other Books Related to Of Mice and Men
John Steinbeck and Woody Guthrie were perhaps the two most famous chroniclers of the Great Depression. Steinbeck's trilogy of novels portraying the struggle of migrant workers in California is the most enduring literary chronicle of the Great Depression: In Dubious Battle (1936), Of Mice and Men (1937), and The Grapes of Wrath (1940). Woody Guthrie (1912–1967), the leading American songwriter of the late 1930s and 1940s, released the Dust Bowl Ballads in 1940, an album of songs inspired by the drought-ravaged region of the American West that came to be known as the "Dust Bowl" in the early 1930s.
Key Facts about Of Mice and Men
- Full Title: Of Mice and Men
- When Published: 1937
- Literary Period: Modernist Novel
- Genre: Novella (short novel)
- Setting: Salinas and Soledad, California during the Great Depression in the early 1930s
- Climax: Lennie accidentally kills Curley's wife
- Point of View: Third person omniscient