Of Mice And Men Chapter 4: Summary, Plot, Characters, Literary Analysis & More

“Of Mice and Men” is a classic novella written by John Steinbeck, originally published in 1937. This thought-provoking work remains one of Steinbeck’s most acclaimed literary achievements.

Chapter 4 of “Of Mice and Men” delves into the complex dynamics among the characters, especially the interactions involving Crooks, Candy, Curley’s wife, Lennie, and the elusive dream of owning land.

This chapter explores themes of isolation, societal prejudice, and the pursuit of dreams in a harsh, unforgiving world.

In this review, we will provide a comprehensive summary and delve into the literary analysis of this pivotal chapter, uncovering the deep layers of Steinbeck’s narrative craftsmanship.

"Of Mice and Men" is set during the Great Depression in California and revolves around two displaced migrant ranch workers who are seeking employment and a place to call home.

The Plot

In Chapter 4 of “Of Mice and Men,” the plot takes a compelling turn as Crooks, the isolated African American ranch worker, interacts with other characters. Crooks warns Lennie about the harsh realities of life, emphasizing the difficulty of achieving their dream of owning land.

He tells Candy about their shared aspirations, hinting at the fragility of their dreams. Crooks suggests the challenges they face, and his insistence on the bleakness of their situation weighs heavily on the chapter.

All these interactions occur in Crooks’s room, where the characters grapple with the harsh truths of their existence on the ranch.


“Of Mice and Men” features a cast of characters who represent various facets of the human condition during the Great Depression.

Their collective impact lies in highlighting themes of loneliness, the pursuit of dreams, and societal prejudice, all within the context of a harsh, unforgiving world. Important Characters in Chapter 4 are :


Crooks, the only black man on the ranch, serves as a symbol of racial prejudice. In Chapter 4, he warns Lennie about the challenges they face, emphasizing the reality of their dreams, and reveals the harsh isolation he endures in his room.


Candy, an aging ranch worker, seeks companionship and a sense of belonging. In this chapter, he learns about Lennie and George’s dream of owning land, and his eagerness to join them reflects his desire for a better future.

Curley’s Wife

Curley’s Wife, the sole woman on the ranch, remains nameless, symbolizing her lack of identity. In Chapter 4, she appears in Crooks’s room, sparking tension among the characters and revealing her own yearning for connection in a world filled with loneliness.

Key Themes

In the novel several overarching themes resonate throughout the narrative, including the pursuit of the American Dream, isolation and loneliness, and the impact of societal prejudice.

For instance, the dream of owning land and achieving a better life drives the characters, while their isolation and discrimination underscore the harsh realities of their world. Themes in Chapter 4 are :

Loneliness and Isolation

Chapter 4 magnifies the theme of loneliness as Crooks, Candy, and Curley’s Wife grapple with their individual isolation. Crooks, as the only black man, emphasizes the racial isolation, while Curley’s Wife’s desperate attempt to connect reveals the pervasive loneliness among the ranch workers.

Dreams and Aspirations

The chapter continues to explore the theme of dreams as Crooks, Candy, and Lennie discuss their shared goal of owning land. Their conversations reflect the enduring human desire for a better future, despite the challenges they face.

Prejudice and Discrimination

Chapter 4 highlights the theme of societal prejudice, especially through Crooks’ experiences. His warning to Lennie underscores the racial discrimination he endures daily, shedding light on the unjust treatment faced by marginalized individuals in their society.

Genres in Of Mice And Men Chapter 4

“Of Mice and Men” primarily falls under the genres of American literature, novella, and social realism. It combines elements of tragedy, naturalism, and the Great Depression era. Genres in Chapter 4 are :


Chapter 4 maintains the novella’s overall genre of social realism, depicting the harsh realities of life during the Great Depression. It authentically portrays the characters’ struggles, their dreams, and the racial discrimination faced by Crooks.


The chapter carries elements of tragedy as the characters’ dreams seem increasingly elusive. Crooks’ warning and the underlying sense of hopelessness contribute to the overall tragic tone.

Social Commentary

Chapter 4 continues to serve as a platform for social commentary. Through the characters’ interactions, it critiques the societal prejudices and inequalities prevalent during the era, shedding light on the injustices faced by marginalized individuals like Crooks.

Language used in Of Mice And Men Chapter 4

In Chapter 4 of “Of Mice and Men,” John Steinbeck’s writing style remains evocative and immersive. Through carefully chosen language, he portrays the atmosphere of isolation and longing.

When Crooks tells Candy about his own aspirations, the language is tinged with a sense of yearning, as both characters seek solace in their shared dreams. Steinbeck uses descriptive language to create a vivid backdrop in Crooks’s room, enhancing the emotional depth of the scene.

The author’s words effectively convey the characters’ desires, emphasizing their yearning for a better life in the face of their harsh reality.

Literary devices in Of Mice And Men Chapter 4

Literary devices are employed to enrich the narrative. These include vivid characterization, symbolism, and foreshadowing.

Notably, in Chapter 4, Steinbeck continues to employ these devices effectively. Crooks insists on the bleakness of their dreams, underscoring the theme of isolation.

His interactions with Lennie, in which he tells Lennie about the harsh realities of their world, serve as foreshadowing, hinting at the impending tragic events that will unfold later in the story. These literary devices deepen the emotional impact and thematic resonance of the novella.


John Steinbeck utilizes similes to vividly illustrate characters’ emotions and situations. For instance, when Candy insists on joining Lennie and George’s dream of owning land, he does so “like a dog with a new litter.”

This simile emphasizes Candy’s eagerness and vulnerability, highlighting his desperate desire for a sense of belonging and security.

Additionally, when Curley’s wife laughs “like a kid who had just discovered a new toy,” it underscores her innocence and the longing for companionship she tries to conceal.


Metaphors in Chapter 4 of “Of Mice and Men” serve to convey deeper symbolic meanings. When George appears in Crooks’s room, it’s metaphorically as if a glimmer of hope has arrived in a place often associated with despair.

Candy’s admission that he should have shot his old dog earlier acts as a metaphor for his own sense of uselessness and impending loneliness.

These metaphors add layers of complexity to the characters and their emotions, enriching the reader’s engagement with the story by providing insights into their inner worlds.


In this chapter the author employs analogies to clarify complex ideas and emotions. When Crooks tells Lennie about the obstacles they face, he likens their dream to “livin’ off the fatta the lan’.”

This analogy paints a vivid picture of abundance and prosperity, making their shared aspiration tangible and relatable.

Similarly, when Candy admits the futility of his own dreams, comparing them to “a dollar bill,” it serves as an analogy for the fleeting nature of hope and the harsh realities of their world. These analogies enhance readers’ comprehension by encapsulating profound themes in accessible imagery.


In Chapter 4 of “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck, vivid imagery plays a crucial role in creating sensory experiences for the reader.

When Lennie told Crooks about the farm they dream of, the imagery paints a lush and vibrant picture of the envisioned paradise.

Readers can almost feel the warmth of the sun, the softness of the earth, and the scent of the crops. This sensory-rich description intensifies the emotional impact of the dream, immersing the reader in the characters’ shared vision of a better life, even in the midst of their harsh reality.


In Chapter 4 of “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck, several symbolic elements contribute to the exploration of larger themes. Curley’s wife, who turns up even in Crooks’s room, symbolizes the pervasive loneliness and longing for companionship experienced by the ranch workers.

She represents the unattainable dreams and the tragedy of unfulfilled lives. Additionally, the notion of “all the weak ones” serves as a symbol for those marginalized and powerless in society, shedding light on the theme of societal injustice.


Personification in this chapter adds depth to the characters and the setting. When Curley’s wife turns up in Crooks’s room, her presence personifies the oppressive isolation and desperation that permeate the ranch.

Candy explaining the dream personifies their collective hope, breathing life into their aspirations. These instances of personification make the characters and their experiences more relatable and emotionally resonant, contributing to the depth and realism of the narrative.


In Chapter 4 of “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck, hyperbole is used to amplify the characters’ emotions and struggles.

For instance, when Curley’s wife laments her loneliness, describing herself as “even lonelier than Lennie,” the hyperbolic comparison underscores the profound isolation she feels.

It intensifies the reader’s understanding of her desperation and the theme of loneliness prevalent throughout the novella.


Several types of irony enrich the narrative in Chapter 4. One example is dramatic irony, where the readers are aware of the characters’ dreams and the harsh reality they face, creating tension and anticipation.

Another instance is situational irony, as the characters strive for a better life on the ranch, but their circumstances continue to deteriorate, underscoring the futility of their dreams.


Juxtaposition is effectively used in this chapter to highlight contrasts and provoke thought. When Candy explains the dream of owning land alongside the harsh truth of their lives, the juxtaposition of hope and despair creates a thought-provoking scenario.

Similarly, the presence of Curley’s wife in Crooks’s room, where she doesn’t belong, juxtaposes her yearning for companionship with the racial tension of the time, emphasizing the complexities of their world.


In Chapter 4 of “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck, a paradox emerges as even Curley’s wife is deemed inferior because she is a woman in a male-dominated society.

This paradox underscores the deeply ingrained sexism and gender bias of the time. While Curley’s wife represents vulnerability and a longing for companionship, her gender also renders her powerless and marginalized.

This paradoxical situation serves as a poignant commentary on the societal norms and prejudices that restricted women’s agency and opportunities during the Great Depression era.


In Chapter 4 of “Of Mice and Men,” there is an indirect allusion to the historical context of the Great Depression. The mention of the “only black family” on the ranch alludes to the racial segregation and inequality prevalent during that era.

This allusion serves to contextualize the pervasive discrimination faced by marginalized individuals like Crooks, underscoring the broader themes of injustice and societal prejudice in the narrative.


Chapter 4 of “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck utilizes onomatopoeic words sparingly to evoke auditory dimensions.

While the narrative primarily focuses on character interactions and themes, there are instances like “rubbing liniment” that create a sensory experience by audibly representing the action of applying a soothing substance.

However, these instances are relatively subtle, as the narrative’s strength lies in its exploration of the characters’ inner lives and societal themes.


Chapter 4 of “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck uses repetition effectively to underscore themes of isolation and the pursuit of dreams.

The repetition of the characters’ yearnings for a better life and the dream of owning land serves to emphasize their shared desires and the persistent hope they cling to amidst adversity.

This repetition intensifies the emotional impact of the narrative, reinforcing the characters’ determination and the harsh realities they face.

The Use of Dialogue 

In Chapter 4, dialogue is a crucial tool for conveying character traits and highlighting themes. Through conversations between characters like Lennie, Candy, and Crooks, the reader gains insight into their motivations and dreams.

Dialogue also creates narrative tension, as characters reveal their vulnerabilities and the conflicts they face. This chapter’s dialogue serves as a window into the characters’ inner lives, enriching the storytelling by making the reader more intimately familiar with their struggles.


Parallelism is subtly employed to highlight the characters’ shared struggles and dreams. The recurring theme of owning land and escaping their current circumstances creates a parallel structure in their aspirations.

This parallelism serves to underscore the unity among the characters in their collective yearning for a better life. It reinforces the idea that, despite their individual differences, they are all bound by the common dream of escaping their hardships, contributing to the thematic depth of the novella.

Of Mice And Men Chapter 4: FAQs

Explore this FAQ regarding “Of Mice and Men” summary to gain insights into John Steinbeck’s classic novella. Discover key plot points, themes, and literary analysis to deepen your understanding of this compelling story.

What happened in chapter 4 in Of Mice and Men?

In Chapter 4 of “Of Mice and Men,” the characters, including Lennie, Crooks, Candy, and Curley’s wife, interact in Crooks’s room. They discuss their dreams, loneliness, and the challenges they face on the ranch.

How is Lennie lonely in Chapter 4?

Lennie experiences loneliness in Chapter 4 because George is not around. He seeks companionship and feels isolated without his friend.

What does Crooks warns Lennie about?

Crooks warns Lennie about the harsh reality of their dream of owning land. He emphasizes the difficulty they’ll face and the likelihood of it not coming true.

Where did everyone go in Chapter 4 Of Mice and Men?

In Chapter 4, most of the ranch workers are at the local brothel, leaving Crooks, Candy, and Lennie behind.

Summing up: Of Mice And Men Chapter 4: Summary, Plot & More

In “Of Mice and Men,” Chapter 4 serves as a poignant exploration of the characters’ dreams, isolation, and societal prejudices. Through rich dialogue and subtle literary devices, John Steinbeck masterfully portrays the emotional complexities of his characters.

The themes of loneliness, dreams, and discrimination resonate deeply, making this chapter a powerful and thought-provoking addition to the novella.

It reminds us that even in the harshest of circumstances, the human spirit persists, seeking hope and connection, a testament to Steinbeck’s enduring impact as a storyteller and social commentator.

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 classic novel depicting the plight of Dust Bowl migrants during the Great Depression, exploring themes of social injustice and resilience.
  • East of Eden” (1952): A sprawling family saga set in California, drawing parallels to the biblical story of Cain and Abel while examining themes of good and evil.
  • Cannery Row” (1945): A humorous and heartwarming novel that captures the lives of colorful characters living in Monterey, California.
  • The Pearl” (1947): A novella exploring the corrupting influence of wealth and greed, set in a small Mexican fishing village.
  • Travels with Charley: In Search of America” (1962): A travelogue in which Steinbeck embarks on a cross-country road trip with his dog, Charley, to rediscover America.
  • Winter of Our Discontent” (1961): A novel exploring the moral compromises made by an ordinary man in pursuit of the American Dream.

These works showcase Steinbeck’s profound storytelling and his ability to delve into complex human experiences and societal issues.

"Of Mice and Men" is set against the backdrop of the American Great Depression in the 1930s. The story takes place on a ranch near the town of Soledad, California.