Of Mice and Men Ch. 1-6: Allusions and Idioms

Salinas River (1) a river that flows north through Soledad and empties into Monterey Bay.
Soledad (1) a city in near the coast of California, approximately 130 miles south of San Francisco.
Galiban Mountains (1) a small mountain range situated east of the Salinas River
tramps (n.) (1) In this case, a tramp is a person who travels about on foot, usually doing odd jobs for a living
bindle (n.) (3) a.k.a. Hoover Bags – a tightly rolled blanket containing a person’s personal belongings
Weed (5) A mining town in Northern California, near Mt. Shasta
work cards (5) A job assignment from an employment agency would be written on a work card to be presented by the worker to the employer.
bucking barley (v.) (8) To buck in this instance is to throw large bags of grain on a truck. Barley is poured into large burlap bags (75 or more pounds) and passed brigade-style (in a line) to the truck.
thrashin’ machines (n) (8) sometimes called “threshers” are used on farms to separate the grain or seed from the straw of such plants as barley or wheat.
jungle-up (1) During the Great Depression, many wanderers (hoboes and tramps) would settle for the night in groups. These areas would be known as hobo jungles. To jungle-up is to camp out for the evening in the company of other like companions of the road.
watchin’ that blackboard (5) During this era, employment agencies would post available jobs on a blackboard in front of their offices. Prospective employees would wait in front of the offices, watching the blackboard for any new jobs.
bustin’ a gut (8) Your gut is your stomach area. To bust a gut is to engage in very hard physical labor — so hard that you ache all over — even in your gut.
To be “in hot water” (11) is to be in trouble.
blow their stake (13) Lose and/or spend all their money
live off the fatta the lan’ (14) Live off the fat of the land. The fat of the land is an expression that refers to having the best of everything. In the case of Lennie and George and their dream for a place of their own, it also means that they believe they will be able to survive and prosper by simply relying on what they can grow and raise — that the land is so “fat” they will need nothing else to be happy.
swamper caretaker on the ranch who cleans and performs menial jobs
Stable buck now considered a derogatory term that refers to a black person who works in a stable
trace chains (n) the chains that connect a horse’s harness to a vehicle
American River a river in Northern California that runs past Auburn, through Sacramento, and flows into the Sacramento River.
Stetson hat a cowboy hat worn by ranchers to protect their head, ears, and face from the sun
skinner mule driver
temple dancer a dancer from India or other Southeast Asian countries, known for the delicate movements of the hands and body.
writin’ to the patent medicine houses Patent medicines are medications that can be purchased without a doctor’s prescription and often through the mail. Some of these medicines would claim to increase sexual performance.
tick a light mattress
eatin’ raw eggs It’s thought by some that eating raw eggs can increase strength and, especially in men, sexual performance and stamina.
pan gold a method of obtaining gold by using a pan to sift it out from other rocks and minerals that might flow through a river or stream.
Luger (47) a type of pistol.
kewpie doll lamp (52) Kewpie dolls are a particular type of doll first manufactured at the beginning of the 20th century.
phonograph (52) Before CD players and tape decks there were phonographs, machines that played records.
Golden Gloves (54) an amateur boxing organization.
San Quentin (56) a state prison near San Francisco, California
walkin’ bow-legged (52) To walk bow-legged is to walk with the knees turned out. Whit’s reference here is to the way a man might walk who had contracted a venereal disease from Clara’s place.
crack (53) A crack refers to an attempt or a try. In this instance, a crack means one session of sexual intercourse with a prostitute.
run up the river (57) During the salmon mating season, thousands of the fish will swim upstream, struggling against the current, spawn (lay their eggs), and then die. During a salmon run, the fish are easy to catch.
cut off his wind (63) wind, in this case, refers to breath or the ability to breathe. When someone is hit in the stomach and has his wind cut off, that person my have trouble breathing for a time.
flat bust completely broke; without any money
flop sexual intercourse with a prostitute
goo-goos silly young men; idiots; perhaps those who are a little love struck
hoosegow jail
looloo a sexy woman
on the county on welfare; on public relief
slug a single drink; especially of alcohol
start a party out to lynch A lynch party is a mob of people who take the law in their own hands and are determined to illegally kill someone. According to George, some men in the town of Weed wanted to capture Lennie and kill him.
throw a scare scare, intimidate
wing-ding a terrific person; someone to be admired
yella-jackets in his drawers Yellow-jackets are a form of wasps. Drawers, in this case, are underwear. Whit’s description of Curley is a lot like saying that he has ants in his pants; that is, that he is restless and nervous.
yella yellow; a coward
roll your hoop a popular amusement of children in the past was running while rolling a large metal hoop with a stick Telling Curley’s wife to “roll your hoop,” is Candy’s way of calling her young and immature.
baloney nonsense
booby hatch insane asylum; a place designed to house people who are mentally unstable
corn whiskey made from corn
cover ‘im up protect him; make excuses for him; cover up for him
doped out figured out
old lady in this case, the mother dog
put me in pitchers put me in pictures; gotten me a job as an actress in the movies (motion pictures)
gingham (n.) a cotton cloth, usually woven in stripes or checks.
Jackson fork a large mechanical hay fork, used for lifting large amounts of hay.
jack-pin (n.) Also known as a belaying pin, a jack pin is a removable wooden or metal pin inserted in the rail of ships around which ropes can be fastened.
Snooker (n.) a type of pool game.
an’ spoke in the radio Large Hollywood movie premiers were major events during the 1930s and were often broadcast on the radio. Actors entering the theater would be interviewed and would speak to an audience of radio listeners throughout the country.
previews previews or openings (premiers) of motion pictures.
bull’s-eye glasses glasses with thick, convex lenses (a convex lens is one that curves outward)
we’d never do her “her,” in this case, refers to their plan to own a farm. George is saying that he thinks they all knew they would never really accomplish their dream of living on their own place.
the “ash pile made by many fires” and the fact that the “horizontal limb” of the “giant sycamore” standing by the pool has been “worn smooth by men who have sat on it.” IMAGERY: A contrast between natural place, which seems heavenly, and the world the human world, especially that of the workers, which is rather hellish.
“Behind him walked his opposite… the way a bear drags his paws… ‘snorted into the water like a horse” METAPHOR: The first instance of Lennie being figured as an animal, which implies carelessness. Steinbeck utilizes similarly suggestive uses when describing Lennie’s appearance and behavior as indications that Lennie isn’t exactly “all there.”
“God, you’re a lot of trouble. I could get along so easy and so nice if I didn’t have you on my tail. I could live so easy and maybe have a girl” IRONY: During the 1930s, owning a home is rare THEME: Disillusionment of the American Dream: While George repeats his dreams aloud, his somber tone reveals his understanding that they will never happen.
” ‘If them other guys gets in jail they can rot for all anybody gives a damn. But not us.’ Lennie broke in. ‘But not us! An’ why? Because… because I got you to look after me, and you got me to look after you, and that’s why.'” THEME: The importance of friendship/companionship during difficult times: George genuinely cares for Lennie even though he is frequently frustrated with him, revealing the need for support during hardships.
“Flies shot like rushing stars” LIT DEVICE:SIMILE & SYMBOLISM: Through figurative language, the flies surround them and leave like the dreams for which they hope everyday
“high-heeled boots and spurs to prove he was not a laboring man” LIT DEVICE:SYMBOLISM: the high position he holds in this society (ranch)
“I never seen one guy take so much trouble for another guy” THEME: Importance of Friendship: insight into George and Lennie’s close friendship
Lennie’s last name: Small LIT DEVICE:Irony: Lennie is consistently described as a big person
‘Strong as a bull’ LIT DEVICE:MOTIF and IMAGERY: animal imagery
Slim drowning his four puppies LIT DEVICE: METAPHOR: the puppies represent the idea that those who are weak and useless do not deserve to live in the 1930’s society.
‘you speak when spoken to” THEME:Social injustice/prejudice due to status hierarchy: he is acting like the boss and playing his status
“Godlike eyes” LIT DEVICE:METAPHOR: Slim is described as having god-like eye since the farmhands look up to him
George’s story about his prank on Lennie LIT DEVICE:TONE: George has a ‘tone of confession’- he feels guilty about telling Lennie to jump in the lake THEME: The struggles of loneliness: Ranch people are mean because they are always lonely CHARACTERIZATION: George is like a father to Lennie.
“His voice trailed off. It was silent outside. Carlson’s footsteps died away. The silence came into the room. And the silence lasted.” LIT DEVICE:MOTIF: silence
“I ought to have shot that dog myself, George” THEME: The worth and purpose of an individual life: Candy regrets not killing dog himself because feels as if he was a coward for not doing it himself
When George talks about his dream, his voice turns “warm […] the cream is so ******** thick” DESCRIPTION: Evocative – producing strong emotion THEME: The struggles of loneliness: The dream unites men because it stops the sense of loneliness THEME: Disillusionment of the American Dream: Candy is hopeful of a brighter future when he offers to contribute to George and Lennie’s American Dream
“What the hell you laughin’ at?” THEME: SOCIAL INJUSTICE DUE TO STATUS HIERARCHY: Curley takes advantage of his position on the farm as the boss’ son
“Curley stepped over to Lennie like a terrier” AND “Curley was flopping like a fish on a line” LIT DEVICE:SIMILE- small & vicious MOTIF: ANIMAL IMAGERY
“Lennie covered his face with his huge paws and bleated with terror” LIT DEVICE:METAPHOR – big as a bear yet innocent as a lamb ANIMAL IMAGERY & SYMBOLISM: Lennie is the bear that caught the fish
“they left all the weak ones here” THEME: SOCIAL INJUSTICE DUE TO STATUS HIERARCHY: The marginalized are treated crudely by the those who hold power on the farm
“you think I don’t like to speak to someone every once and a while” THEME: The struggles of loneliness: – Curley’s Wife is lonely.
‘******. I could get you strung up on a tree’. THEME: SOCIAL INJUSTICE DUE TO STATUS HIERARCHY: She implies she can get him lynched. Shows racism of 1930’s America.
“Crooks had reduced himself to nothing. There was no personality, no ego- nothing to arouse either like or dislike…Crooks sat perfectly still, his eyes averted, everything that might be hurt drawn in.” LIT DEVICE: IMAGERY: Crooks was diminished by Curley’s Wife. Steinbeck is showing the reader the racism of the era and is critical of it.
“He pulled out his shirt in back, poured a little liniment in his pink palm and, reaching around, he fell slowly to rubbing his back.” LIT DEVICE: SYMBOLISM -the fact that the chapter begins and ends with this act symbolizes the endless hopeless routine of his life
“Why do you got to get killed? You ain’t so little as mice. I didn’t bounce you hard “ LIT DEVICE: FORESHADOWING: Lennie kills the pup that Slim gave him. According to the text, Lennie was playing too roughly with the puppy much like he is too aggressive with Curley’s wife.
“Don’t you worry none. He was jus’ a mutt. You can get another one easy. The whole country is fulla mutts” THEME: THE SRUGGLES OF LONELINESS: Throughout the novel, Steinbeck highlights the idea that America is filled with people who are lonely and desperate. Many appear to have no real family, just as a mutt has no truly distinguishing feature or pedigree or home.
“‘He says he was gonna put me in the movies… Soon’s he got back to Hollywood he was gonna write to me about it.’ She looked closely at Lennie to see whether she was impressing him. ‘I never got that letter’…” THEME:DISILLUSIONMENT OF THE AMERICAN DREAM: When she was young she had an opportunity to meet a man who was going to put her in motion pictures, but he never sent her a letter. As a result, she married Curley.
“It was very quiet in the barn, and the quiet of the afternoon was on the ranch.” LIT DEVICE: MOTIF: Silence
“And the meanness and the plannings and the discontent and the ache for attention were all gone from her face. She was very pretty and simple, and her face was sweet and young” THEME:SOCIAL INJUSTICE/PREJUDICE DUE TO STATUS HIERARCHY: The image describes Curley’s wife and her contented appearance after her death Steinbeck seems to imply that her only escape from powerlessness is death.
“The bastard’s stole my Luger” LIT DEVICE:SYMBOLISM: The men think that Lennie took Carlson’s gun but this is out of character for Lennie who most likely would not know how to operate it if he had it. The gun that killed Candy’s dog is also the gun that kills Lennie. In addition, the gun that they men think Lennie took to save himself from the men is actually the gun that kills him.
“You ******** tramp You done it di’n’t you? I s’pose you’re glad Ever’body knowed you’d mess things up You wasn’t no good “ THEME:DISILLUSIONMENT OF THE AMERICAN DREAM: Candy’s statement shows his disappointment that his chance of leaving the ranch is over . He blames Curley’s wife, not Lennie.
“The deep green pool of the Salinas River was still in the late afternoon. Already the sun had left the valley to go climbing up the slopes of the Gabilan Mountains, and the hilltops were rosy in the sun. But by the pool among the mottled sycamores, a pleasant shade had fallen.” LIT DEVICE: IMAGERY:THE COMFORT AND BEAUTY OF NATURE: Nature is delightful and peaceful, but ultimately, men and their inhumane, violent actions threaten nature.
“A silent head and beak lanced down and plucked it out by the head, and the beak swallowed the little snake while its tail waved frantically” THEME: THE WORTH AND PURPOSE OF AN INDIVIDUAL LIFE: Death comes quickly, surely, and to the unaware. LIT DEVICE: FORESHADOWING: When Lennie appears, the fate that awaits him is obvious.
“I might jus’ as well go away. George ain’t gonna let me tend no rabbits now.” THEME: THE WORTH AND PURPOSE OF AN INDIVIDUAL LIFE: Lennie does not seem to realize that he has done something as serious as killing a human being. He treats Curley’s wife’s death the same as the puppy’s death.
Event from Ch.4: The death of Candy’s dog LIT DEVICE: FORESHADOWING: Earlier in the novel, Candy tells George that he would have rather been the one to shoot his old dog. Candy feels bad because he let Carlson kill his dog, especially since he had the dog since it was a pup. George is in the same position. He knows that the men are going to kill Lennie, but he cannot let someone else hurt Lennie because he had been taking care of Lennie for most of their lives.
“‘Never you mind,’ said Slim. ‘A guy got to sometimes.'” THEME:THE IMPORTANCE OF FRIENDSHIP DURING DIFFICULT TIMES: Slim recognizes George’s behavior and knows the story behind how George and Lennie ended up together. He takes George to the highway to find a place to get a drink.
“Now what the hell ya suppose is eatin’ them two guys?” THEME: THE WORTH AND PURPOSE OF AN INDIVIDUAL LIFE: Carlson represents an uncaring member of society who does not feel any compassion over the death of the two innocents, Curley’s wife and Lennie. THE STRUGGLES OF LONELINESS: The final comment highlights the lonely nature of men in the Depression and the lack of camaraderie that exists between men

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