Of Mice and Men. John STEINBECK. John Steinbeck (1902–1968).
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John was the third of four children, and the only son.
learned to appreciate his surroundings,
and loved the Salinas countryside and
the nearby Pacific Ocean; it would be
this appreciation that would later come
out in his writing.
hand in nearby ranches.
and spent a lot of time writing in his room.
and edited the school yearbook.
University to please his parents, but only chose
courses that interested him, classical and British
Literature, writing courses, and an odd science
A hobo, especially one who carries a bedroll.
great success by
readers and critics.
moved into his family’s home. His father helped support
the struggling couple, but unfortunately, they divorced in
Commonwealth Club of California
Gold Medal for Best Novel by a
Californian for his novel, Tortilla Flat.
and was so widely accepted that Steinbeck
began a book tour that led him to Europe.
was published and became an
instant best-seller; in 1940 it was
awarded the Pulitzer Prize, one
of the most prestigious literary
awards in the world.
stemmed from his experience working
among migrant workers.
researching migrant workers led him to
have more compassion for these workers,
and stirred up his concern for social justice.
Conger who would father him two
sons before their divorce in 1948.
worked as a war corre-
spondent for the New
York newspaper, Herald
“Don't think for a moment that you will ever be forgiven for being what they call ‘different.’ You won’t! I still have not been forgiven. Only when I am delivered in a pine box will I be considered ‘safe.’ After I had written the Grapes of Wrath the librarians at the Salinas Public Library, who had known my folks remarked that is was lucky my parents were dead so that they did not have to suffer this shame.”
during the anti-war movement due to
his open support of the war and
Lennie is a large, lumbering, childlike migrant worker. Due to his mild mental disability, Lennie completely depends upon George, his friend and traveling companion, for guidance and protection. The two men share a vision of a farm that they will own together, a vision that Lennie believes in wholeheartedly. Gentle and kind, Lennie nevertheless does not understand his own strength. His love of petting soft things, such as small animals, dresses, and people’s hair, leads to disaster.
George and Lennie go to a ranch near Salinas, California, to
work. George is Lennie’s keeper, and Lennie imitates
everything that George does. Lennie previously had been
kicked out of a town for grabbing a girl’s dress. He simply
liked to touch soft items. That is also the reason that he has
a dead mouse in his pocket: Lennie petted him too hardly.
George promises Lennie that some day they will have their
own farm and raise rabbits as well as other animals.
Send these, the homeless, tempest tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”
( Emma Lazarus)
Written on the base of the Statue of Liberty
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.
1. Research migrant workers in America during the 1930s, today, or both. Give a presentation to the class detailing what you find. Note any similarities or differences between what you discovered in your research and Steinbeck’s portrayal in Of Mice and Men.
2. Interview three people who lived during the Depression and present your findings to the class.
3. Watch at least one film version of the novel and compare it with the book.
1. Discuss the novel’s view of relationships between men.
2. Analyze Steinbeck’s portrayal of Curley’s wife as the lone female on the all-male ranch.
3. Paying attention to the long descriptive passages at the beginning of each section, discuss the ways in which the novel is similar to a theatrical play. Do these similarities strengthen or weaken the novel? How?
4. Discuss George’s actions at the end of the novel. How can we justify what he does to Lennie? How can we condemn it?
5. Discuss Steinbeck’s descriptions of the natural world. What role does nature play in the novel’s symbolism?
6. Analyze the characters of Slim, Crooks, and Curley. What role does each character play?