Steinbeck`s Of Mice and Men

Of Mice and Men
John Steinbeck
Style of Novel
Steinbeck set out to create a new lit. form
Some call the book a “play-novelette”
He developed the charac.’s through speech and
action rather than letting the reader in on their
He starts each scene with a description of the
setting, much like a play is staged around its sets
The action in each chapter follows the pattern of
Dialogue is used to reveal characters
Language of the novel
Steinbeck’s language in his descriptions of
nature is full of imagery and metaphor
Since the story is about laborers, it is
appropriate that their dialogue is unrefined
and realistic
Slang, profanity, and uneducated pronunciation
The coarseness of the language contrasts with the
tender motives of the main characters
Point of view
Story is told through third person,
objective point of view
Reader is not directly let in on the thoughts
of the character or their feelings about
themselves and others
Reader must draw his/her own conclusions
Helps reader feel the information
presented is in a straightforward manner
and that no information has been left out
Time period and physical setting
determine the mood and help the
unfolding of the plot
The time is during the Depression years,
when people had little but the clothes on
their backs
Many were homeless and wandered the
countryside picking up odd jobs
The place is a small ranch near Salinas
River in Cali.
His descriptions of the riverbank and barn
scenes contrast with the bunkhouse setting
The natural scenes evoke a sense of
beauty and openness
The indoor scenes evoke starkness and
Themes in novel
Indifference of the world
Worth of an individual
Saw reality as a work of natural forces
One’s destiny was decided by
Physical drives
Economic circumstances
These things are uncontrollable and help shape
who we become and what happens to us
The title Of Mice and Men is an allusion
to a Robert Burns poem titled “To a
In the poem, one significant line reads
“the best laid schemes of mice and men
often go awry.”
Keep this in mind as the story unfolds.
Determine for yourself how this relates.
Misc. Info
All characters are portrayed as either victims
or predators except Slim
George and Lennie are searching for
for their version of paradise,
yet the laws of nature, the cold realities of an
uncaring world, seem to prevent them from
attaining their reward
Novel touches on human struggle to reconcile
our notions of “what could and should be”
and what often “is”
John Steinbeck
Born in Salinas, California
This was the setting for a number of his works
Went to Stanford University in 1920
Attended for four years but did not earn a degree
While there, he took writing courses
Primary interest in college was in scientific
fields, especially marine biology
Moved to New York in 1925 and for two years
was a reporter for New York American
Eventually lost this job because his writings
contained more reflection than fact
He held many odd jobs before becoming a
writer: a ranch hand and fruit picker were
just two of the many
 Much of his writing during the 1930’s
dealt with social issues
 Wrote a book about the strike of
California fruit-pickers and was then
asked to write about the life in the
camps of the migrant workers
 Researched the articles through firsthand experience
 Of Mice and Men ( published in 1937)
and The Grapes of Wrath both were
written after Steinbeck saw the inhumane
conditions and hunger the farm owners
Both novels express the dreams and
everyday existence of down-on-their luck
workers in their own language

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