Of Mice and Men is the tale of dreams shattered and friendship driven to its limits. Through the characters of migrant workers, Lenny and George, John Steinbeck explores the underbelly of the American dream. Lenny, a mentally challenged giant, and George, sharp and small of stature, dream of buying their own farm where Lenny hopes to keep rabbits. It has been difficult to control Lenny’s impulses, and the pair has already had to flee a job when Lenny made clumsy overtures to a woman. Now hired on as ranch hands, George tries to protect Lenny, but the simple man’s attraction to the wife of their boss’ son leads to tragic consequences, when Lenny fails to understand his own strength. George carries out a mercy killing so that Lenny will not fall into the hands of persecutors, and the story’s grim ending sees George led away by the compassionate mule driver, Slim. High school readers will respond to the novel’s depiction of a deeply caring friendship, perhaps unequalled in American fiction.