The novel of Mice and Men is set in the American depression of 1937. The American depression was a hard time for the American people. Steinbeck was inspired by the experience he undertook during 1919 to 1926. He worked as a manual, unskilled farm labourer on ranches in northern California. The book was written after 'In Dubious Battle', which caused scandal left, right and centre. It inspired Steinbeck to write this book.
The book is about two ranch workers who travel together and they both long for a farm of their own and are great friends. George and Lennie are the main focus of the story and live an unfortunate life. They work all day and play cards and drink most the other time. The book also includes other characters such as Crooks, Curley, Curley's wife, Slim and Candy. In there own way each of these characters help to keep the book flowing. Crooks is a stable hand that looks after the stables. He is often singled out, as he is black. Curley is the son of the boss who owns the ranch. He is an ill-tempered person who is feared by others throughout the book.
Curley's wife is never referred to by her real name because Steinbeck is trying to portray an image of her being un-important and like Crooks is singled out as she is of a different sex to every other person on the ranch. Slim is the man who keeps everything running smoothly and is often the person everyone turns to for support. He is a lonely person who does not make friends quickly. He tries not to get to close to a person as they often leave after a couple of weeks. Candy is an old man who is one of the most important characters as he is the gossiper who lets the characters and us know what is going on. Candy is at the stable because he lost his hand in one of the machinery when he used to work out in the fields. The boss felt sorry for him and keeps him on to look after he bunk house. .
Many of the characters are lonely because they are either discriminated against through age, race, sex, disability or not able to make real friends, as ranch workers don't tend to stay in the same place for long.