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George Milton. A migrant worker who travels from farm to farm with his mentally impaired friend Lennie during the Depression. The two dream of earning enough money to buy a small farm where Lennie can tend rabbits. By virtue of his mental superiority, George assumes a dominant role with Lennie, acting as a parent. Because Lennie tends to involve George in difficult predicaments, George must be responsible, level-headed and ready to deal with any tragedy that may arise. Despite the many problems that Lennie causes George, he stays with his simple-minded friend as a buffet against loneliness and he retains a palpable hope that the two will eventually leave the aimless life of a migrant worker to live a more fulfilling existence.
Lennie Small. A gigantic, mentally disabled man, Lennie is simplistic and docile. He obsesses over simple sensory pleasures, particularly finding great joy in touching soft things, whether a cotton dress or a soft puppy. Although Lennie is inherently innocent, he is still capable of great violence, for he lacks the capacity to control himself physically and has a great protective instinct, especially when it comes to his friend, George. Lennie dreams with George of having a small piece of land; he is obsessed with one aspect of this dream: having a small rabbit hutch where he can tend rabbits. Lennie is incapable of making decisions by himself and relies on George entirely.
The son of the ranch owner, Curley is a man of short stature who is nevertheless a formidable boxer. Curley is aggressive, boastful and cocky, with a volatile temper and a tendency to provoke conflict with the weak, as he does with Lennie. Part of Curley's bravado stems from anxiety over his new wife, who everyone widely suspects of being "a tramp." He spends a great deal of time monitoring her, believing her to be off with other men when she is not under his supervision.