Chapters 1–2

Set during the Great Depression, Steinbeck's classic novel tells the story of shrewd, scheming George and loyal, childlike Lennie. The two farm workers dream of owning their own land but must struggle merely to survive.
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definitions & notes only words
  1. juncture
    the shape or manner in which things come together
    On one side of the river the golden foothill slopes curve up to the strong and rocky Gabilan Mountains, but on the valley side the water is lined with trees— willows fresh and green with every spring, carrying in their lower leaf junctures the debris of the winter's flooding; and sycamores with mottled, white, recumbent limbs and branches that arch over the pool.
  2. mottled
    having spots or patches of color
    On one side of the river the golden foothill slopes curve up to the strong and rocky Gabilan Mountains, but on the valley side the water is lined with trees— willows fresh and green with every spring, carrying in their lower leaf junctures the debris of the winter's flooding; and sycamores with mottled, white, recumbent limbs and branches that arch over the pool.
  3. recumbent
    lying down; in a position of comfort or rest
    On one side of the river the golden foothill slopes curve up to the strong and rocky Gabilan Mountains, but on the valley side the water is lined with trees— willows fresh and green with every spring, carrying in their lower leaf junctures the debris of the winter's flooding; and sycamores with mottled, white, recumbent limbs and branches that arch over the pool.
  4. morosely
    in a sullen, moody manner
    George stared morosely at the water.
  5. scowl
    frown with displeasure
    The little man jerked down the brim of his hat and scowled over at Lennie.
  6. periscope
    an instrument providing a view of an obstructed field
    A water snake slipped along on the pool, its head held up like a little periscope.
  7. brusquely
    in a blunt direct manner
    "Awright," he said brusquely.
  8. pantomime
    a performance using gestures and movements without words
    But Lennie made an elaborate pantomime of innocence.
    Compare with mimic in this list. Both words have the same etymological root: the Greek mimos which means "imitator, actor, buffoon." The prefix pan means "all": a person who pantomimes can perform gestures that imitate many characters.
  9. contemplate
    consider as a possibility
    Lennie hesitated, backed away, looked wildly at the brush line as though he contemplated running for his freedom.
  10. imperiously
    in a manner showing arrogant superiority
    George's hand remained outstretched imperiously.
  11. carp
    any of various freshwater fish of the family Cyprinidae
    A big carp rose to the surface of the pool, gulped air and then sank mysteriously into the dark water again, leaving widening rings on the water.
  12. mimic
    imitate, especially for satirical effect
    He took on the elaborate manner of little girls when they are mimicking one another.
  13. irrigation
    the act of supplying dry land with water by artificial means
    She yells and we got to hide in a irrigation ditch all day with guys lookin’ for us, and we got to sneak out in the dark and get outa the country.
  14. anguish
    suffer great pains or distress
    He looked across the fire at Lennie’s anguished face, and then he looked ashamedly at the flames.
  15. scourge
    something causing misery or death
    "Says 'positively kills lice, roaches and other scourges.' What the hell kind of bed you giving us, anyways. We don't want no pants rabbits."
  16. laden
    filled with a great quantity
    At about ten o’clock in the morning the sun threw a bright dust- laden bar through one of the side windows, and in and out of the beam flies shot like rushing stars.
  17. peer
    look searchingly
    He stopped suddenly, stepped to the open front door and peered out.
  18. mollify
    cause to be more favorably inclined
    “Damn right he don’t,” said George, slightly mollified, “not if he wants to stay workin’ long.”
  19. pugnacious
    ready and able to resort to force or violence
    His glance was at once calculating and pugnacious.
  20. gingerly
    with extreme care or delicacy
    Curley stepped gingerly close to him.
  21. ominous
    threatening or foreshadowing evil or tragic developments
    He said ominously, “Well, he better watch out for Lennie. Lennie ain’t no fighter, but Lennie’s strong and quick and Lennie don’t know no rules.”
  22. derogatory
    expressive of low opinion
    He had drawn a derogatory statement from George.
  23. plaintive
    expressing sorrow
    “I don’t want no trouble,” he said plaintively.
  24. contort
    twist and press out of shape
    His face contorted with thought.
  25. rouge
    redden by applying makeup to
    She had full, rouged lips and wide-spaced eyes, heavily made up.
  26. bridle
    anger or take offense
    Lennie's eyes moved down over her body, and though she did not seem to be looking at Lennie she bridled a little.
  27. complacently
    in a self-satisfied manner
    Lennie, who had been following the conversation back and forth with his eyes, smiled complacently at the compliment.
  28. muse
    reflect deeply on a subject
    “Ain’t many guys travel around together,” he mused.
  29. dignity
    the quality of being worthy of esteem or respect
    Slim stood up slowly and with dignity.
  30. precede
    move ahead in time or space
    Carlson stepped back to let Slim precede him, and then the two of them went out the door.
Created on August 11, 2014 (updated June 25, 2018)

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