Of Mice and Men Pre-Reading Questions
1. What does it mean to “work the land”?
2. Do you have certain times and places when you feel “close to the land”? Discuss.
3. How important is it going to be for you to have a place you can call your own some day?
4. Do you feel that you have your own place today? Where/what is it? How do you feel about it?
5. How important will it be to have a piece of land?
6. What are some reasons people have for living a life of “wandering”?
7. What are migrant workers? (Use prior knowledge, perhaps from your history class, to answer this question)
8. How have they been mistreated?
9. What laws do we have today to protect the rights of migrant workers and their children?
10. Have you ever known a retarded adult? What problems do they face?
Of Mice and Men Introductory Notes
Relatively unknown before the publication of this novel, John Steinbeck quickly began a public figure. First published in February 1937, the book sold 117,000 copies in less than one month. Steinbeck’s shyness and need for privacy made the spotlight of the literary circle somewhat difficult for him. Tired of the constant social gatherings in his honor, Steinbeck finally got away for a well-earned holiday in Europe. There he included this in one of his letters: “I just need to get away from being John Steinbeck for a little while”.
Steinbeck became a Nobel Prize winner a few years before his death in 1968. Since its publication, over fifty years ago, Of Mice and Men has become a permanent fixture of American literature.
John Steinbeck's theory of naturalism and his view on human and environmental fate effected many of his most famous works, such as Of Mice and Men, and his most successful book, The Grapes of Wrath. Both his early family life with his mother and father, and his life once he started his own family effected his views on life. His parents died when he was a young man and he was married several times. ...
South of San Francisco in the Salinas Valley of California; during the Depression of the 1930s; three specific locations – along the banks of the Salinas River near the ranch, in the ranch bunk house, and in the barn.
George Milton has cared for his slow (and presumably mentally retarded) friend, Lennie Small, since the death of Lennie’s Aunt Clara. They travel together as migrant field workers so that one day they will have enough money to live on their own and be their own bosses. Unfortunately, every time they have a job, Lennie gets into some trouble which forces them to run away. This time they are running from a town called Weed because Lennie was accused of raping a girl from another town. The book begins with the two of them hiding from the angry townspeople. Lennie has a tendency to kill small, soft animals by accident. Because he is unaware of his own strength, there are repeatedly severe problems.
George Milton: the small sharp-witted ranch hand who travels with Lennie. George is a typical, realistic hand who uses his mind to anticipate the future. George has restless eyes and sharp, strong features with every part of him defined. He always has to bail Lennie out of trouble.
Lennie Small: Lennie is a mentally retarded man who needs George’s constant attention and care; he has a short attention span and acts similar to a child. Because of his mental limitations, Lennie can never understand or anticipate the consequences of his actions. Lennie is unnaturally large and has a shapeless face. He drags his feet when he walks and lets his arms hang. He has an infatuation with anything soft and furry. He acts impulsively which gets he and George into trouble numerous times.
Slim: Wise, tall, thin and quiet, Slim is both respected and admired. Everyone seeks his approval, even Curley, who seems to have contempt for everyone else on the ranch. The others give into Slim because his word is the law. He is the voice of reason. Slim is the kind of man that George hopes to become one day.
... to the dream of Lennie and George share, Curley's wife seduction of the ranch hands as a buffer against loneliness. ) - A man's ability to dream is ... feelings of those around him. Candy: The ranch hand who wanted to join the dream of George and Lennie, Candy's one faithful companion was his ...
Carlson: A ranch hand who serves as the character foil for Slim. He has a lack of concern for other people’s feelings and doesn’t take time to understand them. He is an insensitive person who cares nothing for others. Carlson is the type of man George hopes to avoid becoming.
Candy: A ranch hand who wants to join the dream of George and Lennie. He has one friend and long time companion, his dog. Because he is an old man and missing a hand, he is ostracized and discriminated against. He offers his life savings to George and Lennie to help finance their dream. Candy represents what will ultimately happen to all ranch hands: they will get old and have no place to go.
Crooks: Crooks is a proud and independent man who functions as the stable worker. Also an outcast on the ranch, he has a place of his own and stays there by himself. He also wants to be part of George and Lennie’s dream and says that he would work for free. Besides George, he is the only one who understands Lennie and befriends him. He looks past Lennie’s mental handicap and Lennie looks past Crooks’ physical handicap (his crooked, disfigured body).
Curley – Curley is the boss’s evil son and a small, vicious bully. He wears high-heeled boots and spurs to prove he isn’t a laboring man. He believes himself superior to everyone and he attempts to intimidate those larger than he.
Curley’s wife-There isn’t much known about her. In fact she isn’t even given a name
and is referred to only as Curley’s wife. Because Curley doesn’t pay much attention to her, she is lonely and attempts to seduce the ranch hands.
The American Dream:
George and Lennie dream to be able to own of place of their own and be their own bosses. Also, everyone has a dream for which they strive. The poor ranch hands wish to be their own bosses and to actually have stability.
Throughout the novel, a main characteristic most of the characters share is being lonely. With the exception of George and Lennie, no man other man feels close with another, especially Crooks. Crooks epitomizes the feelings of loneliness with the following statement, “A guy goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody. Don’t make no difference who the guy is, long’s he with you”.
Of Mice and Men - comparing the book ending with the film ending The final chapter of Mice and Men begins in the brush near the Salinas River. Steinbeck describes the pool and surroundings creating a calm, lazy atmosphere. .".. the hilltops were rosy in the sun... A pleasant shade had fallen." This is similar to the beginning of the book in the way it describes the setting. Earlier in the book, ...
This theme manifests itself in Lennie’s lack of understanding and/or ability to
interact with others on the ranch. Some examples: he doesn’t understand why he shouldn’t enter Crooks’ room or why Curly does not like men looking at his wife.
The novel deals with several types of discrimination, but the most notable are seen in the others’ relationships with Crooks, Candy, and Lennie.
Curley symbolizes the aggressive, violent nature of abusive bosses. The pathetic situations of the farm hands make them the “perfect” objects for his ridicule. Curley takes full advantage of these opportunities. This is especially apparent in his dealings with Lennie. Ironically, Steinbeck makes sure to show the reader that Curley’s toughness is only an attempt to compensate for his own weaknesses.
Loyalty and Sacrifice:
The concept of loyalty is embodied by George. He is a bright man who could most likely have a successful life; instead he chooses to stay beside his friend Lennie. He has a sacrificed a better life for himself in the name of loyalty to a friend.
Man vs. Society
Lennie is a nuisance to most people and George constantly has to get him out of trouble. The townspeople chased George and Lennie out of town because they believed he had raped a girl. He had merely touched her dress.
Man vs. Himself
When Lennie gets himself into serious trouble, George must make a decision that will drastically affect both of their lives. This internal conflict rips George apart as he debates what the “right” thing to do is.
Man vs. Man
Curley constantly baits Lennie into a physical altercation.
Day One- Complete Pre-Reading questions; Read Section One; answer all Section One packet questions
Day Two- Discuss Section One packet questions; Read Section Two; answer all Section Two packet questions
Day Three- Discuss Section Two packet questions; Read Section Three; Begin Film
Day Four- Watch ½ of film; Discuss notable quotes from Section 4 and 5
Day Five- Watch second ½ of film; Discuss notable quotes from Section 6
1. How does Steinbeck convey Lennie’s animal-like qualities?
2. Why does Steinbeck describe the actions of Lennie’s hands?
Of Mice and Men: Lennie and George Of Mice and Men, written by John Steinbeck, is the story of two simple farm hands, Lennie Small, who incidentally, really isn't very small, and his better half, George Milton, on their quest to have "a place of their own," with plenty of furry bunnies, of course. Sound strange Read on to get clued in. The book opens along the banks of the Salinas River a few ...
3. What is George’s attitude toward Lennie in this section? Why does he stay with Lennie?
4. Explain the connection between Lennie’s mouse and what happened in the town of Weed.
5. Describe George’s dream in this section.
6. What suggests the dream of the farm is unrealistic?
7. Give some examples of foreshadowing in this section.
1. Most of the opening paragraphs of this section consist of a realistic description of the bunkhouse. What detail suggests that the ranch hands have a romantic side?
2. How does the account of Whitney’s quitting contribute to the book’s mood of alienation?
3. Why is the stable buck set apart from the other men?
4. Which character names from this section have symbolic importance? List and explain the importance of each.
5. Why is the boss suspicious of George and Lennie?
6. What explanation of Lennie’s mental condition is given? Is it accurate? Why or why not?
7. What is Candy’s attitude toward Curley?
8. What is Candy’s opinion of Curley’s wide? Does it seem justified?
9. What qualities does the description of Slim suggest?
10. What is the significance of Slim’s and Carlson’s remarks about the dogs?
11. Give some examples of foreshadowing in this section.
1. What does George’s conversation with Slim reveal about his past treatment of Lennie?
2. Why does George trust Slim?
3. What is George’s analysis of Lennie’s attack on the girl in Weed? Does it seem probable?
4. Analyze Carlson’s reasons for and Candy’s reasons against shooting Candy’s dog. How do they touch on the central issues of this novel?
5. Why does George decline Whit’s invitation to visit the brothel?
6. Relate George’s description of the farm to the novel’s theme of a romantic Eden.
7. Is the farm a realistic dream?
8. What comparison does Candy make between his condition and his dog’s? How does this reinforce the theme of responsibility?
9. What does Lennie’s fight with Curley show the ranch hands? What does the description of this fight suggest about the nature of violence?
Lennie and George, migratory workers in the California fields, cherish the dream of having a little farm of their own where as Lennie's refrain has it, they can "Live of the fatta o' the land." George yearns for his own place where he could bring in his own crops instead of working for another. A place where he could get what comes up from the ground for himself. He wants the full reward of his ...
1. What does the description of Crooks’ room reveal about its occupant?
2. Why is Crooks’ name appropriate?
3. Why does Crooks allow Lennie to enter his room?
4. How do Crooks’ words to Lennie about loneliness reinforce this theme of the novel?
5. What is Crooks’ reaction to the dream of the farm?
6. Show how Candy’s comments to Crooks and Lennie relate the dream of the land to Steinbeck’s theme of economic exploitation.
7. How does the behavior of Curley’s wife seem deliberately designed to provoke the men?
8. What motives does Steinbeck suggest for her behavior?
9. How is her nature as a destructive character most clearly revealed?
10. In what ways does Crooks retreat before her attack?
1. How is Lennie’s treatment of the dead puppy typical of his character?
2. In what way is Curley’s wife also a dreamer? Is her dream any more realistic than George’s and Lennie’s?
3. How does Curley’s wife feel about him?
4. How does she entice Lennie into touching her?
5. What is the nature of his attack?
6. How does Lennie react to what he has done?
7. How does George’s reaction to the murder relate to his belief in the dream?
8. Compare the reactions of Curley and Slim.
1. Describe Lennie’s state of mind as he goes to hide in the brush.
2. The description of Lennie’s death recalls another event in the novel. What is it?
3. What does this parallel reveal about George’s motives?
4. Explain George’s last remarks to Lennie.
5. Why does George lie about the gun?
6. Why does Slim treat George as he does?
7. Explain the significance of the last line in the novel.