John SteinbeckOne of The Great American Writers of the 20th Century1962—won the Nobel Prize in Literature
The setting in OfMice and Men • The novel is set in the farmland of the Salinas valley, where John Steinbeck was born. • The ranch in the novel is near Soledad, which is south-east of Salinas on the Salinas river. • The countryside described at the beginning of the novel, and the ranch itself is based on Steinbeck’s own experiences.
The Beauty of Salinas • Rich, fertile soil
California in the 1930s Thousands of people traveled to California to escape from their farmlands in the Midwest that were failing due to drought and the dust bowl.
Why Migrant Workers? • Before technology created farm machinery, humans had to do a lot of the farm work by hand. • Between the 1880s and the 1930s, thousands of men would travel the countryside in search of work. • Such work included the harvesting of wheat and barley.
Migrant Workers Mostly single men Earned $2.50-$3.00 a day, Plus food & shelter Traveled from farm to farm Living quarters squalid Opportunities for advancement non-existent 25% feeble-minded
The Book • Of Mice and Men was originally called Something That Happened. Deals with: • poverty and homelessness, • the exploitation of migrant workers, • the failure of the American Dream, • America’s general moral decline.
The two main characters are George Milton and Lennie Small. • They are migrant workers who travel to a ranch for work. • Lennie is mentally disabled and George is his friend that watches over him. • George and Lennie dream of having a “little house and a couple of acres”.
Realism Writing that uses real language and vivid descriptions of people and nature. Dialect is realistic with bad grammar, slang and profanity. Profanity “To the men I write about profanity is adornment & ornament and is never vulgar and I try to write it so.” Racism
Themes Theme of friendship and commitment to one another. Theme of dreams. Theme of loneliness. Basic theme of all of Steinbeck’s writings: “try to understand each other”
Of Mice and Men – Title’s Origin • The title of the novel comes from a poem by the Scottish poet Robert Burns (1759-96) The best laid schemes o’ mice and men Gang aft agley [often go wrong] And leave us nought but grief and pain For promised joy! The best laid schemes of mice and men often go wrong- referring to a little mouse who had so carefully built her burrow in a field to protect herself and her little mice babies – and the burrow is turned over and destroyed by the man plowing.
Reading Assignment • Read the novel. • As you read, take sticky notes about the following: • The main characters and descriptions • Examples of descriptive writing by John Steinbeck (Realism) • Any literary elements: foreshadowing, irony, figurative language, mood, tone, symbolism etc. • The themes of the novel • Minimum 20 sticky notes (may have more) • Option: Complete study guide instead.
Writing Assignment Immediately after you finish the novel, write a paragraph reaction to the ending. What are your thoughts and opinions about how the novel ended? Do you agree or disagree with George’s decision? Why or why not? What do you think will happen next?
DUE DATES for Honors English 3 May 9: Book Due—I’ll check sticky notes or study guide. May 9: paragraph reaction due! May 9: plot test May 10: seminar May 16: in-class essay c/c Of Mice and Men & Raisin in the Sun
Due Dates for Regular English 3 May 11: Book Due—I’ll check sticky notes or study guide. May 11: paragraph reaction due! May 11: plot test May 11: seminar May 15 & 16: in-class essay