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Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Transcript of Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Protagonist(s): George & Lennie
Antagonist: Curly, society, & the predatory nature of human life
Themes & Symbols
The Power of Dreams/The American Dream
http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/175884 Langston Hughes, "A Dream Deffered"
The notion of a dream is mentioned throughout the story and completes a life cycle by the conclusion of the novella. The character's dreams are born, rise, and die.
George wants to own his own ranch and Lennie wants to tend to rabbits. Candy joins George's dream and effort to turn the dream into a reality.
The novella incorporates elements of the legend of Arthur and medieval knights.
"The story involves a fraternity of men who are inspired by a common dream, as the knights of the Round Table were."
George displays a sense of honor and duty when caring for Lennie. These qualities mirror those of medieval knights.
"George commits his life to helping Lennie almost as if he ahd takent he knight's pledge to defend the powerless."
George, Lennie, and Candy show an uncommon loyalty to one another.
"Like Camelot, the dream of a ranch proves too fragile for this fallen world, but the love and fellowship of the men who dreamed it remain an inspiration."
Loyalty and Friendship
George promises Lennie's family to watch out for him.
George and Lennie share a common dream and an uncommon bond.
With isolation being a dominant theme throughout the novella, nearly every character wishes he had a relationship like George and Lennie share.
A successful friendship requires patience, forgiveness, and self-sacrifice, all of which George and Lennie display throughout the story.
The ultimate test of friendship comes at the end of the novella, when George must find the strength to do the best thing for his friend.
Do you think George's act of mercy is genuinely heroic?
Worries about being dropped from payroll due to age and limited abilities
Intrigued by George's dream to own a ranch and offers more than half of the money needed to buy a ranch
Comes off as weak but has unexpected power with his secret payroll
Treats Lennie has an equal
Candy & Slim
Travels ranch to ranch to make money to put toward his dream of owning a ranch of his own
Short of stature
Strong mentally and physically
Shows compassion for human beings
Looks after, protects, and cares for Lennie
His standoffish behavior is not an expression of his true nature but a strategy to shelter Lennie from attention.
Comically misnamed in terms of stature
Carlson: "He ain't very small."
"Small" applies to Lennie's mental capacity, interests, hopes, and dreams
Main interest in life is finding things that are soft to touch (tactile fixation)
Doesn't want to fail George
His actions are motivated by the desire to save his dream of tending rabbits
No name = a minority, a possession, and it reinforces her status as a person in society
Seeks human contact
Young, attractive, and flirtatious
The men on the ranch fear her
Dreams of becoming an actress
Her clothes are used as a vehicle to express and gratify sexual desire
Her desire for human contact proves to be fatal
Tall and confident
The ranchers look to Slim for advice and guidance
Sees through George's lie that he shot Lennie in self defense and assures George he did the right thing
Tough, impatient, and self-centered
Insensitive to those around him
Provides the initial suggestion that Candy put his dog down (not out of compassion but as a means to get what he wants)
Shoots Candy's dog
Hunts down Lennie
Has a sadistic streak (i.e. shoot Lennie in the stomach)
Fails to comprehend human relations (i.e. the bond between George and Lennie)
Knowledgable and capable
Held in low regard (i.e. the manure pile under his window)
Has no illusions about being on a level playing field with the whites on the ranch
Yearns to be part of George, Lennie, and Candy's dream of owning a ranch
Mean-spirited and angry
Small in stature
Insecure about his masculinity
Strives to prove his manhood
Verbally and physically abusive
Feminine references - "high-heeled" shoes and the glove with vaseline
Has a lust for vengeance (i.e. the grudge he holds with Lennie)
Views his wife as a possession (although she seems to be untameable)
Type of work: novella
Setting: Soledad, California
Point of view: Third person omniscient
omni - all
outside narrator that knows what all of the characters are thinking
Background information about the text:
Supplemental Texts : The DBQ Project
1. Hook Exercise
4. "To A Mouse" by Robert Burns
Write your own....
“Society proves too strong. The society is represented by the ranch-owner’s son, Curley, whose arrogance is supported by the social system which gives no chance at all for the underdog. It is this society with its complex structure which gives new dimension to the struggles of the Steinbeck hero.” - Critic B. Ramachandra Rao
“A book is a message to us from human souls we never saw. And yet these books arouse us, terrify us, teach us, comfort us, open our hearts to us as brothers.” - Charles Kingsley (19th century teacher and writer)
“Lennie, you see, cannot help shaking small helpless creatures until their necks are broken, just as George cannot relinquish his dream, and just as Curley cannot ever stop being a beast of jealously. They are wound up to act that way, and the best they can do is run down; which is what happens when Mr. Steinbeck comes to his last mechanical page.” - Mark Van Doren
Steinbeck’s response: “ I’m sorry that you do not find the new book as large in subject as it should be. I probably did not make my subjects and symbols clear.”
5. "I like to pet nice things"
6. "A little piece of land"
7. "Right in the back of the head"
9. Essay Writing
10. Sample Essays
How does Steinbeck use foreshadowing?
1. What prestigious prize was Steinbeck awarded in 1962?
2. What did Steinbeck do for working class America?
3. Whom does Steinbeck write about?
4. What aspects of California does Steinbeck use for inspiration in his writing?
5. What new form of writing did Steinbeck experiment with when writing Of Mice and Men?
6. Why were readers drawn to Of Mice and Men?
The Great Depression & The Dust Bowl:
"In accepting complete responsibility for Lennie, George demonstrates the degree of commitment necessary to the Steinbeck hero, and in fact enters the ranks of those heroes." - Louis Owens, Literary critic
What do you hope that you can achieve in your lifetime? Tell me about some of the dreams that you have for yourself.
Using detail, explain what qualities you feel a true friend must possess. Provide at least two examples of how a good friendship can enrich one's life.
How important do you think it is to care for or nurture others?
Describe a difficult decision you have had to make and the process that you went through to make it. *If you cannot think of a decision, write a fictional one.*
All individuals - in this novel and in life - express and/or are exposed to prejudice. Using your own experiences, how would you define prejudice? What examples of it can you find in U.S. History? Why study prejudice? What can prejudice lead to?
“Mistakes are always mistakes, or so I’ve heard them say . . . but if it teaches a lesson, the mistake will go away” ~ Hucklebug
What does this quote mean? How does a mistake go away? Write about a time when you made a mistake, but learned a valuable lesson as a result.
Chapter 6 ends abruptly. Please write the epilogue or the story after the story ends.
What happens to George after the fateful evening concluding the novella? He and Slim walk off together into the darkness and then what?
Where does George go from here? What will he do? How will he live his life?
Breakdown by Chapter & Chapter Questions
The Knights of the Round Table vs. Of Mice and Men
Is George a hero?
What about Lennie...
Code of Honor
Coat of Arms
In Medieval times the Coat of Arms was placed on banners and shields to signify a knight’s allegiance.
On it was a representation of their lord’s heritage, values, and accomplishments. It was used to identify
friends and foes during battle.
Choose a character from Of Mice and Men and create a coat of arms for that character. The character
does not have to be considered "noble" or "chivalrous."
1. Section 1: Write the character's name and a brief description of his/her role throughout the story.
2. Sections 2 & 3 : Choose two values that the character upholds throughout the novella.
Write down the values and draw a depiction of each.
3. Section 4: Choose the character's greatest strength. Write the strength and draw a depiction.
4. Section 5: Write/Draw the character's greatest accomplishment.
5. Section 6: Write/Draw the character's aspiration expressed throughout the story.
And a youth said, "Speak to us of Friendship."
Your friend is your needs answered.
He is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving.
And he is your board and your fireside.
For you come to him with your hunger, and you seek him for peace.
When your friend speaks his mind you fear not the "nay" in your own mind, nor do you withhold the "ay."
And when he is silent your heart ceases not to listen to his heart;
For without words, in friendship, all thoughts, all desires, all expectations are born and shared, with joy that is unacclaimed.
When you part from your friend, you grieve not;
For that which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence, as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the
And let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit.
For love that seeks aught but the disclosure of its own mystery is not love but a net cast forth: and only the unprofitable is caught.
And let your best be for your friend.
If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know its flood also.
For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill?
Seek him always with hours to live.
For it is his to fill your need, but not your emptiness.
And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures.
For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.
The American Dream
Do Now: What is your definition of the American Dream? Describe some examples of people you know, have heard about, or have read about that have dreamed the American Dream.
According to this article, what is the classic definition of the American Dream? Do you think the dream often comes true? Why or why not?
Why do you think more people believe in the American Dream today than they did years ago, despite our economic outlook? *Although dated, we are still experiencing an economic decline*
Describe the shift in the definition of the American Dream over the years. What do you think accounts for this change?
Which definitions of the American Dream resonate most with you? Why?
Why do you think Barry Glassner believes it would be difficult to find a different country where so many people believe in possibilities even in dire circumstances? Do you agree with him? Why or why not?
II. Group work: read your assigned article and complete the handout "American Dreaming."
Sir Launcelot Du Lake
Read the classical text, Sir Launcelot Du Lake, and use the graphic organizer to determine which character demonstrates the value in the Chivalric Code and the reasons you feel s/he lived up to the code or fell short.
Using the same graphic organizer, determine which character(s) in Of Mice and Men demonstrate the Chivalric Code and the reasons s/he lived up to the code or fell short.
Modern Day Heroes
Do Now: Please answer the following questions in the Writing section notebook.
What qualities must an individual possess to be considered a hero?
Who do we consider to be heroes in our current society?
Who is your hero?
What values/beliefs do we share in this classroom?
Please write down 3 values you believe to be the most important to live by. When you are done, fold the piece of paper in half.
The American Dream
1. Bear & Paws
2. Rabbits & Trouble
3. Dog & Loyalty
Unleashed power, conscience, and loyalty
1. Candy's Dog