Of Mice and Men: Chapter 1 - Symbolism and Questions
Symbolism – When one thing stands for something else because of some common traits. For
example, a lion represents royalty and majesty. A fox represents something that is sly and tricky.
Sycamore trees are very sacred to ancient Egyptian culture. The ancient Egyptians believed that
there stood two sycamore trees at the gates of heaven. In addition, they were often used for
medicinal purposes to cure ailments such as those of the joints and tongue. As such, Sycamores
are symbolic o healing and the gateway to the afterlife.
The tomb of Osiris was built of Sycamore wood, and shaded by Sycamore trees.
The deceased hoped to live in the Sycamore tree. In The Book of the Dead there are examples of
a letter the deceased would write to the Goddess of The Tree, containing a prayer so that she
would provide water and air. Sycamores were often planted near tombs, and models of the leaves
of the tree was used as funerary amulets. Burial in Sycamore coffins was a symbolic return into
the womb of the mother tree goddess.
Serpents - Serpents and dragons symbolize trouble. Whenever they appear, strife and infertility follow.
Dog - Guidance, protection, loyalty, fidelity, faithfulness, watchfulness, the Hunt.
Heron - Vigilance, quiet, power of water, the underworld, tact, delicacy, renewal, life, transformation.
Carp - In Japan and other parts of Asia, the carp symbolizes strength, which is quite appropriate as
anyone fortunate to have tied into one while angling can attest to. However, the carp is also a bottom
feeder, as such it lives off of whatever waste other animals leave behind.
Define the following words:
1. Who are the protagonists?
2. Where is the novel set?
3. What is the mood? Provide evidence for your explanation.
4. What literary devices are present in this first chapter? State them, copy a line that
is a good example. Include the page number.
5. Create an ongoing page of all animal references (even if the reference is to only a
part of an animal). The page should be set up like this:
Animal Page Number Association
Under “Association” state which character the animal is associated with and the characteristics
they share—the more details the better.
6. How is Lennie similar to a horse and a bear?
7. How is George similar to a “stilted heron”?
8. List two events from the first three pages that establish Lennie as childlike
9. What new animal is introduced on page 7, whose head is described as a “little
10. What animal is Lennie linked to through a simile on page 9?
11. What does Lennie like to pet? What happens to them when he does pet them?
12. What hint is there on pages 9-10 that Lennie is unaware of his own strength?
13. There is an image of a carp on page 10. How is it linked to Lennie on page 3?
14. What happened to George and Lennie in Weed? (page 11)
15. Describe George’s dream (page 14-15).
16. Copy out the last line of the chapter: