As the story begins, the reader is introduced to two characters. One is called George Milton, and the other – Lennie. The two are on a journey as they walk along the banks of River Salinas, California. They are to begin work at a ranch that is in the surrounding areas. Since their destination is still far, they decide to spend the night in the woods.
From their conversation, the reader can deduce that it is George who is in control. Lennie has a problem and exhibits weird behavior. He has developed a character of imitating the things George do. When George finds him inappropriately touching a mouse that is dead, George takes it and throws it into the woods. Though Lennie cries, George explains to him that handling dead animals is unhygienic. When Lennie retrieves the dead animal, George throws it again.
The two have contrasting description both in physical appearance and behavior. While George’s size is small, Lennie is huge. George is responsible and thinks while Lennie is haphazard when it comes to decision making.
They have known each other since they were young. Over the years, Lennie kept getting into trouble. Lennie is the reason they lost the previous job after he touched a woman inappropriately. It is George that has been guiding Lennie ever since Clara, Lennie’s aunt died. George views Lennie as a good company and not as a burden. At the same time, Lennie feels good that he has someone that can watch out for him.
As they travel, they talk of their dream to purchase their ranch in the future. Lennie finds the whole idea impressive since he will rear rabbits. Since George feels that Lennie may put them in trouble again due to his irresponsible behavior, he warns Lennie to behave well as they go to their new place of work. In case anything goes wrong in the course of their work, George tells Lennie they should meet at a spot near the river and agree on how to sort it out. As they go to sleep, George insists on Lennie on the need to follow instructions appropriately.
The two are homeless, given that they have to move from one ranch to the other to survive, and live in their places of work. Their story is that of people that are living a type of life where they have a dream that one day, they can make it big. Though they may not be comfortable at the moment, they believe that soon, they will have the ability to live a sufficient life.