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'Exploring Modern Texts': Section B: 'Of Mice and Men'

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Paul Hanson

on 18 May 2015

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Transcript of 'Exploring Modern Texts': Section B: 'Of Mice and Men'

'Exploring Modern Texts': Section B: 'Of Mice and Men'
Today, we are looking at Part B: the social and historical context question.
Finding Evidence
Key sections:
the lives of migrant farmers (p. 19, 44, 46, 52, 58-59, 69, 121
the American Dream (p. 15-16, 66, 107)
the lives of women (p. 30, 34, 100, 104)
the lives of black people (p. 22, 75, 91)
people with disabilities (p. 68).

Go to one page for each bullet point and find what you think would be the most useful quotation.
Scoring the Marks
Respond to the text.
Analyse detail (quotations).
Evaluate Steinbeck's uses of language and/or structure and their effects on readers.
Respond to the ideas/themes/settings presented.
Respond to context.
Analyse detail to support response to context.
Steinbeck's Methods
Steinbeck's methods:
( e.g. the contrast between George and Lennie)
(sets up the deaths of Lennie and Curley's wife and the death of the dream)
metaphorical verbs
creates powerful images of actions
describe actions and suggests how characters are feeling
colloquial speech
creates setting
animal imagery
develops Lennie’s character and his effect on others
(e.g. Crooks’ character is presented through his possessions; Curley's wife's description after her death)
(e.g. Curley's wife always wears red signifying her danger).

Remember, in any exam you can always pick out
lexis (words)
and write about what they suggest to the reader.
Identifying Methods
Go to p.19 and find one or two of Steinbeck's methods used to show the lives of migrant farmers during the Great Depression.
Scoring the Marks
Here's a poor paragraph exploring the contextual issue of racism in America during the period in which the novella is set.

Crooks is a black man who is disliked because of his colour.

‘”You got no right coming into my room. This here’s my room. Nobody got any right in here but me.”’
This clearly shows that no one likes Crooks.
Steinbeck’s presentation of Crooks is that of an angry, lonely individual frustrated with the discrimination he faces on the ranch.
Consider these two quotations from different points in the novella. In chapter 3, Steinbeck writes that,
‘the door [to the bunkhouse] opened quietly and the stable buck put in his head.’

subtle use of lexis
shows the reader that Crooks well aware that the bunkhouse is off limits to him, so he opens the door

and puts only his
in, clearly demonstrating that he feels as though he is intruding in a place where he is unwelcome and is wary enough not to make too much noise or go barging in.

As a result he attempts to exercise some control over his own space by stating to Lennie, as he tries to enter Crooks’ room, that

“’You got no right coming into my room. This here’s my room. Nobody got any right in here but me”’.

Being black during this period in America leaves Crooks feeling quite powerless and so he feels quite protective of anywhere or anything that he feels he can control. By refusing entry to his room, Crooks is sending out a message that he feels offended and frustrated by their discrimination of him. This is achieve by Steinbeck's
highly effective use of repetition
'You got no right'
'Nobody got any right'
). Furthermore, I think that Steinbeck is using Crooks and the maltreatment of him, to highlight what he sees as the injustice and cruelty that black people continued to suffer during the America of that period.

Your Turn
Using one or more of p. 30, 34, 100, 104, explore how Steinbeck presents the lives of women in America during the 1930s.
Remember to:
use evidence
analyse and evaluate methods
write about the experiences of women and men's attitudes towards them
explore Steinbeck's own views on this.
Prepare for Section A and Section B by re-reading the novella, especially the following key scenes:
The opening at the pond (intro. to George and Lennie, the dream, foreshadowing Lennie liking soft things and getting in trouble)
The killing of Candy’s dog (foreshadows the death of Lennie and why George must be the one to kill him)
The busting of Curley’s hand (shows Lennie’s strength and foreshadows how easily he kills Curley’s wife).
Crooks’ room (racism; loneliness for the weak outsiders: Crooks, Lennie, Candy and Curley’s wife)
The killing of Curley’s wife (the death of the dream)
The killing of Lennie at the pond (end when we begin but imagery is symbolic of death instead of peace; Lennie going almost mad; George kills Lennie; ambiguous end: does George now hook up with Slim or does he have nothing?).
Full transcript