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Of Mice and Men What you should know Context • When the novel is set • Historical/social factors that are relevant to the time it is set • Where the novel is set and why • How the context affects the plot, characters and themes • Could you answer the question How are the ranch workers affected by the context of the story? Great Depression Relationships California “No Help Wanted” Mass unemployment Migrant/itinerant workers Ranches No benefits 1930s American Dream Real places Racism/inequality Dreams Hunger The title • Alliterative connection between mice and men – both subject to fate • Context of title gives biggest clue as to tragedy/pessimism for the dream The best laid schemes o’ mice and men Gang aft a-gley (often go wrong) • Struggle for survival in Burns‟ poem hints at vulnerability and helplessness of characters • Could you answer the question What is the significance of the title? Plot • Know the story inside out ie. READ and RE-READ • Write detailed summaries of each of the six chapters so you know exactly when all the main events take place • Consider what we learn about the past and the future in each section When did it happen? • Lennie breaks Curley‟s wife‟s neck • Candy shows them around the bunkhouse • Lennie goes to the brush, as instructed by George • Lennie has a dead mouse in his pocket • Candy‟s dog is shot • All the men go into town except Crooks, Candy and Lennie Characters • • • • • • • • Physical description Personality and behaviour What events/themes they are involved in What role they play/their importance Relationships with other characters What they say/what others say about them Use of language Could you answer the question It is possible to feel sympathy for all the characters in the novel. Which of the characters do you feel most sympathy for? Carlson Whit Candy Lennie The Boss George Curley Curley‟s wife Slim Candy‟s dog The pups Crooks Mice Who… • • • • • • • Used to be a boxer? Is the swamper? Is the jerkline skinner? Likes to gossip about people? Acts like a parent? Taunts Lennie? Shoots Candy‟s dog? Themes • Themes are the main ideas which run through the novel • They help us to identify Steinbeck‟s intentions when writing the novel ie. the issues he wanted to highlight • Link them to characters and events • Could you answer the question Discuss the importance of dreams in the novel. Power/authority Nature Hardship Friendship Isolation/loneliness Discrimination Dreams Violence Setting • Ensure you know where the novel is set and why • Setting is made clear at the start of every chapter – like stage directions in a play – and all the chapter events take place in that location • Steinbeck uses real geographical locations • Remember that Soledad means „loneliness‟ • Could you answer the question Choose one of the settings and show how it is important to the novel as a whole. Which chapter? Why important? The Bunkhouse Barn The Bunkhouse Crook‟s room (the harness room) Clearing by the Salinas river Clearing by the Salinas river Imagery/symbolism • • • • • Animals Hands Names The colour red Light and darkness Key Quotations • Learn some short quotations so that you can use them in your longer essay response • Organise these under the headings: characters, themes, plot, setting, language • Keep the quotations short • If you can‟t remember them exactly, you can paraphrase Who says? • “I seen the guys that go around on the ranches alone. That ain‟t no good.” George • “You hadda, George. I swear you hadda.” Slim • “Coulda been in the movies an‟ had nice clothes.” Curley’s wife • “Why do you got to get killed. You ain‟t so little as mice.” Lennie • “Come on ya big bastard. Get up on your feet. No big son-of-a-bitch is gonna laugh at me.” Curley Structure • • • • • • Novella Similar style to a play - importance of entrances and exits, use of visual description Significance of opening and ending Chronological order Cyclical structure eg. opens and closes in same place and the characters‟ lives are routine so become monotonous Use of foreshadowing eg. which events give hints as to what will happen later on? Foreshadowing What do the following foreshadow? • • • • The shooting of Candy‟s dog The events in Weed The dead mouse in chapter one Lennie crushing Curley‟s hand Language and style • Use of omniscient narrator (3rd person) • Use of unusual metaphors and similes • Vivid description of landscapes, setting and colour • Californian accent and dialect to emphasise characters and setting • Colloquial word choices, specific to ranch life • Swearing/racist comments – to shock? For realism?
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