Of Mice and Men Chapter 5: Summary & Quotes

Of Mice and Men Chapter 5: Summary & Quotes
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  • 0:02 Lennie and the Puppy
  • 0:45 Shattered Dreams
  • 1:37 A Tragedy
  • 3:32 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Tommi Waters

TK Waters has a bachelor's degree in literature and religious studies and a master's degree in religious studies and teaches Hebrew Bible at Western Kentucky University.

In this lesson, we will look at Chapter Five of 'Of Mice and Men', where the climax of the book occurs when Lennie kills Curley's wife and is forced to run away and hide.

Lennie and the Puppy

When Chapter 5 opens, we see Lennie sitting in the hay in the barn, stroking a dead puppy. He says, ''Why do you got to get killed? You ain't so little as mice. I didn't bounce you hard.'' As anticipated, Lennie's unawareness of his strength and petting and playing with his puppy constantly led him to accidentally kill it. Lennie does not recognize that what he did is bad, only that George will be upset with him. He voices his constant fear that George will not let him tend the rabbits because he killed the puppy. He tries to cover it up with the hay, thinking of telling George he found it dead, but then realizes his plan will not work and throws the dead puppy in anger. After a while, he goes to pick it up again, thinking that maybe George will not be mad at him.

Shattered Dreams

As usual, the temptress figure, Curley's wife, shows up at a moment of weakness for Lennie. Although Lennie tells her that he is not supposed to talk to her, he eventually gives in and shows her the dead puppy. Curley's wife tries to reassure him, saying, ''Don't you worry none. He was jus' a mutt. You can get another one easy. The whole country is fulla mutts.'' Lennie explains that he's not concerned about losing the puppy as much as George not letting him tend the rabbits.

Curley's wife tells Lennie her story, which is the first time we are given an image of her that is not despicable. She tells Lennie how she was going to become an actress in Hollywood, and that she would have been if her mother had not stolen all her mail that contained her acting offers. She confides in Lennie that she married Curley to get away from her mother, but that she does not even like Curley. Throughout Curley's wife's speech, Lennie keeps thinking and talking about the rabbits, which irritates Curley's wife, and she angrily says, ''Don't you think of nothing but rabbits?''

A Tragedy

Lennie explains that he likes to pet rabbits because they're soft, so Curley's wife tells him to pet her hair, which is also soft. Lennie pets her hair and, John Steinbeck writes, ''Lennie said, 'Oh! That's nice,' and he stroked harder. 'Oh, that's nice.'' Curley's wife gets upset with Lennie for messing up her hair and tells him to let go, which scares Lennie, causing him to panic and hold on tighter. Curley's wife starts panicking, realizing Lennie's strength, and begins screaming. Lennie panics even more, covering her mouth and telling her to stop screaming because she will cause trouble for him. Steinbeck narrates, ''Don't you go yellin',' he said, and he shook her; and her body flopped like a fish. And then she was still, for Lennie had broken her neck.'' Lennie realizes he has killed Curley's wife and decides to cover up her body with the hay while he runs to the hiding place that George told him to go to.

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