Of Mice And Men Chapter 1: Summary, Plot, Characters, Literary Analysis & More

“Of Mice and Men” is a classic novel by John Steinbeck, first published in 1937.

This novella remains one of Steinbeck’s most acclaimed works, addressing themes of friendship, the American Dream, and the plight of the mentally disabled during the Great Depression.

In this review, we delve into Chapter 1, where George tells Lennie about their shared dream, exemplifying the characters’ desires and setting the stage for their journey toward a brighter future, despite the challenges of a harsh, rural California setting. 

Note that here you will find our full Of Mice and Mensummary.

Steinbeck’s poignant storytelling and vivid characterizations make this chapter a compelling introduction to the tale of two men and their shared dreams.

Steinbeck's poignant storytelling and vivid characterizations make this chapter a compelling introduction to the tale of two men and their shared dreams.

The Plot

In Chapter 1 of “Of Mice and Men,” George reminds Lennie about their dream as they journey to a new job. Along the way, George discovers a dead mouse in Lennie’s pocket, hinting at his peculiar fondness for soft things.

George and Lennie share a dream of owning their own land and tending rabbits. George warns Lennie about the importance of keeping their dream alive, emphasizing their reliance on each other.

The chapter sets the stage for their unique bond and the challenges they’ll face in pursuit of their shared aspirations, against the backdrop of the Great Depression.


In the first chapter of “Of Mice and Men,” we encounter several pivotal characters whose interactions and dynamics lay the foundation for the story’s development. These characters, although few, play crucial roles in shaping the narrative.

George Milton

George is a key figure who takes on the role of protector and mentor for Lennie, emphasizing their shared dream and offering guidance.


Lennie, described as a huge man with intellectual disabilities, relies on George for guidance and nurtures an unusual fondness for petting soft things, which holds symbolic significance.

Lennie’s Aunt Clara

Although not physically present, Lennie’s Aunt Clara is frequently referenced, shedding light on Lennie’s past and vulnerability.

Other Mice and Men

The mention of other characters in the chapter hints at the social context and the challenges George and Lennie may encounter on their journey.

Key Themes

In “Of Mice and Men,” numerous themes resonate throughout the novel, and Chapter 1 provides a glimpse into some of these central motifs. Within this initial chapter, we encounter the seeds of three prominent themes.

Friendship and Dependency

In Chapter 1, George and Lennie’s enduring friendship and Lennie’s dependency on George are evident. George’s role as Lennie’s protector and mentor sets the stage for exploring the depths of companionship amidst adversity.

Dreams and Aspirations

The chapter introduces the dream shared by George and Lennie – owning a piece of land and tending rabbits. This theme highlights the enduring human desire for a better life, even during the hardships of the Great Depression.

Isolation and Loneliness

Chapter 1 subtly touches on the isolation faced by itinerant workers during this era, emphasizing their disconnection from society and the yearning for meaningful connections, which George and Lennie’s relationship contrasts with.

Genres in Of Mice And Men Chapter 1

“Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck is a literary masterpiece that incorporates multiple genres to convey its powerful narrative. Within Chapter 1, several genres blend seamlessly to create a rich storytelling tapestry.


Chapter 1 exhibits elements of literary realism, portraying the stark, unfiltered realities faced by itinerant workers during the Great Depression. Through vivid characterizations and settings, Steinbeck captures the raw essence of life during this era.

Psychological Drama

The chapter delves into the complex psychology of its characters, particularly Lennie, whose intellectual disability and childlike innocence add layers of depth to the narrative. The psychological interplay between George and Lennie forms a central element of this chapter’s genre.


While not a traditional coming-of-age story, Chapter 1 introduces the idea of personal growth and transformation. George’s role as a mentor and Lennie’s yearning for guidance hint at the potential for character development and change as the story unfolds.

Language used in Of Mice And Men Chapter 1

In Chapter 1 of “Of Mice and Men,” John Steinbeck employs a concise and evocative writing style to paint a vivid picture of the setting and characters. The language is imbued with a sense of stark realism, mirroring the tough, Depression-era landscape.

Steinbeck’s words deftly capture the nuances of the way George and Lennie dream, emphasizing their yearning for a better life and creating an atmosphere of hope amidst adversity.

The dialogue between the characters is simple yet loaded with emotional depth, providing a glimpse into their unique relationship and shared aspirations.

Literary devices in Of Mice And Men Chapter 1

Chapter 1 of “Of Mice and Men” is rich with literary devices that enhance its storytelling. Through foreshadowing, George throws light on the challenges that lie ahead for him and Lennie.

Steinbeck masterfully employs symbolism, notably in the dead mouse, which symbolizes Lennie’s innocent but destructive tendencies. Dialogue serves as a tool for characterization, revealing George’s protective nature and Lennie’s childlike innocence.

Moreover, the chapter showcases the use of imagery and setting to create a bleak, unforgiving backdrop, mirroring the harsh realities of the Great Depression. These literary devices collectively enrich the narrative’s depth and complexity.


Metaphors, while not explicitly mentioned in the chapter, are woven into the narrative. Lennie’s frequent inquiries (Lennie insists that he is not the reason why the mouse is dead) and requests can be seen as metaphors for the broader human desire for understanding and connection, emphasizing the theme of isolation in the story.

These metaphors deepen the reader’s understanding of the characters and their emotional struggles.


John Steinbeck employs vivid imagery in Chapter 1 to create sensory experiences. He describes the serene Salinas River and George’s satisfaction as he begins narrating their dream.

This imagery transports readers into the story, allowing them to feel the tranquility of the river and share in the characters’ hopes for a better future.


In Chapter 1 of “Of Mice and Men,” there are several symbolic elements that connect to larger themes. Lennie’s refusal to let go of the dead mouse represents his struggle with understanding the consequences of his actions, symbolizing innocence amidst a harsh world.

When George complains about Lennie drinking from the pool, it symbolizes his role as a protector, highlighting the theme of friendship and dependency.

Furthermore, as George begins to explain their dream of owning land, it becomes a powerful symbol of hope and the pursuit of the American Dream amidst challenging circumstances.


In Chapter 1 of “Of Mice and Men,” personification subtly breathes life into the characters and setting. For example, when Lennie drinks from the pool like an animal, it personifies his innocence and simplicity, making him more relatable.

Additionally, the Salinas River “whispers” and “sings” in the narrative, anthropomorphizing the natural environment, and enhancing the atmospheric richness and emotional resonance of the story by giving the setting a voice of its own.


In Chapter 1 of “Of Mice and Men,” irony subtly weaves its threads into the narrative. One form of irony arises from Lennie’s love for soft things, which juxtaposes his physical strength, creating situational irony.

Furthermore, Lennie’s repeated requests for George to tell him about their dream, despite his forgetfulness, add dramatic irony as readers are aware of Lennie’s limited memory, contrasting with his profound emotional connection to the dream.


Juxtaposition is skillfully employed in Chapter 1 to highlight the stark contrasts between the characters and their surroundings. Lennie’s affinity for petting soft things is juxtaposed with his immense physical strength, creating a thought-provoking scenario that underscores his vulnerability.

Additionally, the juxtaposition of the characters’ dreams and their challenging reality serves to emphasize the gap between their aspirations and the harshness of their circumstances, prompting reflection on the American Dream’s feasibility during the Great Depression.


Chapter 1 of “Of Mice and Men” subtly introduces paradoxical elements. The paradox of Lennie’s immense strength juxtaposed with his childlike innocence highlights the contrast between physical power and emotional vulnerability.

Additionally, the paradox of George’s frustration with Lennie’s forgetfulness, while he continues to recount their shared dream, illustrates the tension between their immediate challenges and their long-term aspirations.


Chapter 1 of “Of Mice and Men” carries allegorical elements in the form of George and Lennie’s dream of owning land and tending rabbits.

This dream serves as an allegory for the broader American Dream, representing the hopes and aspirations of countless individuals during the Great Depression.

Their pursuit of this dream throughout the narrative symbolizes the resilience and determination of marginalized individuals seeking a better life despite formidable obstacles.


In Chapter 1 of “Of Mice and Men,” repetition serves as a powerful tool to underscore themes and evoke emotions. The recurring motif of Lennie’s desire to “pet soft things” and his tactile interactions with such objects emphasizes his innocence and longing for comfort, adding depth to his character.

Similarly, the repetition of George’s explanations to Lennie about their shared dream reinforces the theme of friendship and aspiration, making it a central, emotionally resonant element.

These repetitions create a sense of familiarity and anticipation, drawing readers into the characters’ world and forging a stronger emotional connection with their desires and struggles.

The Use of Dialogue 

Chapter 1 of “Of Mice and Men” masterfully employs dialogue to reveal character traits, emphasize themes, and build narrative tension. Lennie’s statements about his love for soft things not only showcase his childlike innocence but also foreshadow potential conflicts due to his uncontrollable strength.

Lennie’s repeated request for George to tell him about their dream highlights his deep emotional connection to their shared aspirations, underscoring the theme of friendship and hope.

Furthermore, George’s internal struggle, hinted at through his feelings and the idea of leaving Lennie behind, adds tension, inviting readers to explore the complexities of their relationship and the challenges they face.

Word Play 

Chapter 1 of “Of Mice and Men” leans more towards straightforward language and thematic exploration rather than elaborate wordplay or puns. However, subtle wordplay can be observed in the repetition of phrases like “Lennie likes” and “Lennie touched.”

While not traditional puns, these repetitions carry a sense of innocence and longing, hinting at Lennie’s childlike fascination with soft things.

Additionally, the mention of a “girl’s soft dress” in Lennie’s past and his offering of the dead mouse to George can be interpreted as symbolic wordplay, signifying Lennie’s yearning for gentleness in a harsh world and his unintentional harm to the very things he loves.


In Chapter 1 of “Of Mice and Men,” parallelism is subtly employed to emphasize the themes of love, dependence, and aspiration. The repetition of the phrases “Lennie loves” and “Lennie tells” creates a parallel structure, highlighting the consistency of Lennie’s emotions and his childlike honesty.

Furthermore, the phrases “leave George” and “George feels” underscore the interdependence between the two characters. The parallel structure reflects the enduring bond between George and Lennie and the consistency of Lennie’s desires.

It reinforces the idea that, despite their challenging circumstances, their shared dreams and affection for each other remain steadfast throughout their journey.

Rhetorical Devices

Chapter 1 of “Of Mice and Men” subtly employs rhetorical devices to enhance its persuasive effect. Lennie’s frequent use of rhetorical questions, such as when he asks George to recount their dream ( Lennie asks George to repeat their dream), serves to emphasize his childlike innocence and longing for reassurance.

These questions create a sense of vulnerability and dependency, persuading the reader to sympathize with Lennie’s character and their unique relationship.

Additionally, the repetition of Lennie asking George about their dream reinforces the importance of their shared aspiration, appealing to the reader’s sense of hope and the desire for a better future amidst the hardships of the Great Depression.

Of Mice And Men Chapter 1: FAQs

In this section of the “Of Mice and Men” Chapter 1 summary, we answer commonly asked questions relating to this first chapter.

What happened in chapter 1 of Mice and Men?

In Chapter 1 of “Of Mice and Men,” George and Lennie, two displaced workers, arrive at a new job on a ranch during the Great Depression. They dream of owning their own land.

What characters are in Chapter 1 of Mice and Men?

The main characters in Chapter 1 are George Milton and Lennie Small.

What story George tells Lennie in Chapter 1?

In Chapter 1, George tells Lennie about their dream of owning land, tending rabbits, and achieving a better life.

What did Lennie do in the first chapter?

In the first chapter, Lennie inadvertently kills a mouse by petting it too roughly, revealing his immense physical strength and innocence.

Summing up: Of Mice And Men Chapter 1: Summary, Plot & More

As you now know from this “Of Mice and Men” Chapter 1 summary, this chapter sets the stage for an emotionally resonant and thought-provoking journey.

It introduces readers to the enduring friendship between George and Lennie, the complexities of their characters, and their shared dream amidst the harsh backdrop of the Great Depression.

Through vivid language, subtle symbolism, and engaging dialogue, John Steinbeck weaves a narrative that explores themes of friendship, hope, and the pursuit of the American Dream.

The chapter’s timeless appeal lies in its ability to capture the human spirit’s resilience in the face of adversity and to invite readers to reflect on the enduring bonds that sustain us during challenging times.

Other Notable Works by John Steinbeck

If you are interested in “Of Mice and Men”, you may be interested in other works by John Steinbeck including:

  • The Grapes of Wrath” (1939) – A Pulitzer Prize-winning novel that follows the Joad family as they navigate the challenges of the Dust Bowl era and the Great Depression.
  • East of Eden” (1952) – A sprawling family saga that explores themes of good and evil, loosely based on the Biblical story of Cain and Abel.
  • Cannery Row” (1945) – A charming and humorous novel set in Monterey, California, depicting the lives of the residents of Cannery Row during the Great Depression.
  • Travels with Charley“: In Search of America” (1962) – Steinbeck’s travelogue, recounting his journey across America with his poodle, Charley, offers insights into the American landscape and its people.
  • The Pearl” (1947) – A novella that explores the consequences of finding a valuable pearl and the corrupting power of wealth in a Mexican fishing village.

These works showcase Steinbeck’s versatility as a writer and his ability to delve into various aspects of the human experience and societal issues.

In the first chapter, Lennie inadvertently kills a mouse by petting it too roughly, revealing his immense physical strength and innocence.