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.
Tar is used as a protective and toughening layer on hooves to prevent cracking, and as an antiseptic.
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.
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.
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.
The Golden Gloves is an annual amateur boxing competition in the USA.
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.
San Quentin State Prison, which opened in 1852, is the oldest prison in California.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.