Page 53. " Got a Luger "

The Luger was a semi-automatic pistol produced by German arms manufacturer Deutsche Waffen- und Munitionsfabriken.  It was widely used by German forces in both world wars.

Page 54. " One of my lead mules got a bad hoof. Got to get some tar on it. "

Tar is used as a protective and toughening layer on hooves to prevent cracking, and as an antiseptic.

Page 55. " Anybody like to play a little euchre? "
Playing cards
Creative Commons AttributionPlaying cards - Credit: Kat Martin on Flickr

 Euchre is a ‘trick-taking’ card game in which four players pair up to form two partnerships and then attempt to win rounds (tricks) by playing the highest trump card.

Page 58. " We go into old Susy’s place "

The Brothel
Public DomainThe Brothel - Credit: Vincent van Gogh
Old Susy’s place is clearly a brothel.

Prostitution was legal in California at this time, with female prostitutes often living and working together in an establishment run by a madam (the woman in charge, usually not a prostitute herself).

Prostitution is now illegal in the United States, other than in some Nevada counties.

Page 59. " if they got a ragrug on the floor an’ a kewpie doll lamp on the phonograph "

A rag rug is made from scraps of material woven into sacking.

Kewpie dolls are little baby figures based on illustrations by Rosie O’Neill that appeared in Ladies’ Home Journal. The name ‘kewpie’ comes from Cupid, the cherub-like Roman god of love. A ‘kewpie lamp’ is a lamp made from one of these toys.

A kewpie doll lamp on Etsy


 Vintage Chalk Kewpie Lamp

Page 61. " Got in the finals for the Golden Gloves "

The Golden Gloves is an annual amateur boxing competition in the USA.


Page 62. " Lennie reached for a face card and studied it "
The 'King' cards in a pack of playing cards
Public DomainThe 'King' cards in a pack of playing cards - Credit: Public Domain Pictures on Pixabay

A face card is one of the non-numeric playing cards that comes after ‘ten’, which usually depicts a figure – the Jack, Queen and King. These are also sometimes known as the ‘court cards’. In a traditional pack of cards the figure on the face card is mirrored upside down on the lower half of the card. This means that whichever way the card is held, it is always the right way up.


Lennie is talking about playing cards, but his comment could also apply to Of Mice and Men, which in many ways ends in a similar place to its starting point – same location, similar trouble, repeated words and ideas, etc. This gives the story a sense of inevitability. George and Lennie can dream big, but in the end they will finish up right back where they started.

Page 63. " Andy’s in San Quentin right now "

 San Quentin State Prison, which opened in 1852, is the oldest prison in California.


San Quentin State Prison
Public DomainSan Quentin State Prison - Credit: State of California on Wikimedia Commons
Page 64. " There’s a place for alfalfa "

 Alfalfa is a plant in the pea family with small purple flowers. It is cultivated as a forage crop for animals, especially dairy cows, due to its high protein content.

Page 64. " I could build a smoke house "

Farm Smokehouse
Creative Commons AttributionFarm Smokehouse - Credit: James Emery

In culinary terms, smoking means using smoke from a fire to preserve food – mainly meat and fish, but also sometimes cheese and other products.

On traditional farms this would be carried out in a smokehouse, a small building constructed for the purpose away from other buildings because of the fire risk. The smoked food would usually be stored here too.

Page 64. " An’ when the salmon run up river we could catch a hundred of ‘em "

Salmon hatch in freshwater streams, usually in the mountains. Most swim downriver to the ocean to feed, but when they are ready to reproduce they make amazing journeys back upstream to their birthplace, swimming against the current and leaping up rapids.

It's a great opportunity for both human and ursine hunters:



Page 65. " No sir, we’d have our own place where we belonged and not sleep in no bunk house. "

The American Dream, c.1942
Public DomainThe American Dream, c.1942 - Credit: The Sheldon-Claire Company
George’s idyllic vision of the farm he hopes to own is a powerful image, almost Eden-like in its purity. There, the men will be able to live in peace and friendship, to be self-governed and not have to worry about taking orders or outliving their usefulness. Most importantly, it will be a home, a place to belong and to call their own. George’s dream is about freedom and autonomy, of working hard and benefiting from the results.

This is the American Dream, an idea that every person is created equal and can achieve prosperity in proportion to their own hard work. The book points out the lie behind that dream: all are not equal or born with the same opportunities, and sometimes hard work is not enough. Achieving the American Dream was a common aspiration at the time of the Great Depression but many despaired of ever making it. For most people, such a thing was completely unattainable.

Page 66. " We’d have a setter dog "

A setter is a type of gundog, bred for flushing game from the undergrowth and then retrieving the animals once they have been shot.

Setters come in a variety of colours.


Red Setter
Creative Commons AttributionRed Setter - Credit: Chris Parfitt