Of Mice and Men was written by John Steinbeck in 1937. The story takes place during the Great Depression in California and tells the tale of two displaced ranch workers, George Milton and Lennie Small, who aspire to own and tend to their own piece of land. Milton, a protagonist, looks after Small (also a protagonist) who suffers from a mental disability. Small's desires to touch "soft things" leads to his accidental killing of small animals and eventually the wife of an important townsman. Before an angry mob led by the deceased wife's husband reaches Small to kill him, Milton shoots Small in the back of his head to prevent his lynching by the townsmen.
Like many other Steinbeck books, Of Mice and Men explores dreams, loneliness, unfortunate economic circumstances, and fate. Because of the book's themes, graphic scenes, and use of vulgar language, it has been banned from many American schools. However, at the time of its writing, the book received high acclaim and has since been adapted into films numerous times.