On My Bookshelf: Of Mice And Men by John Steinbeck

August 22, 2016

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck is a classic novel set in the Great Depression. Two friends, Lennie and George, dream of their own ranch, but can't hold down jobs long enough to get together the money they need to buy one. Just when it seems their dream might be in reach, tragedy strikes. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.
The basic plot from Amazon: They are an unlikely pair: George is "small and quick and dark of face"; Lennie, a man of tremendous size, has the mind of a young child. Yet they have formed a "family," clinging together in the face of loneliness and alienation.

Laborers in California's dusty vegetable fields, they hustle work when they can, living a hand-to-mouth existence. For George and Lennie have a plan: to own an acre of land and a shack they can call their own. When they land jobs on a ranch in the Salinas Valley, the fulfillment of their dream seems to be within their grasp. But even George cannot guard Lennie from the provocations of a flirtatious woman, nor predict the consequences of Lennie's unswerving obedience to the things George taught him.

Why I liked it: The classic novel Of Mice and Men is one I first read in high school, but I forgot how tragic the ending is. The plot is simple, but it is impossible not to connect with the characters' plights.

George and Lennie are migrant workers roaming the country side during the Great Depression, trying to stay one step away from the trouble that seems to plague them. Lennie struggles intellectually and has a fixation for powering soft things, whether it's mice, puppies, or girls' dresses. George, who promised Lennie's aunt he would look after him, struggles with this burden.
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck is a classic novel set in the Great Depression. Two friends, Lennie and George, dream of their own ranch, but can't hold down jobs long enough to get together the money they need to buy one. Just when it seems their dream might be in reach, tragedy strikes. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.

The two have a dream of eventually having land of their own and with the help of Candy, an older worker at their newest ranch, that dream seems almost possible. Unfortunately, Curley, the boss's son seems to have it out for Lennie and Curley's wife is looking for attention any where she can get it. Lennie puts he and George in danger once again, and George has to make a terrible decision about their friendship.

Classroom application: The novel could be used to focus on any and all literary terms: conflict, setting, characterization, theme, symbolism, foreshadowing, mood, etc.

Because it is short, it is a great choice if you have to do all of your reading in class or if you are trying to build up independent reading stamina with your students.

There are several film versions, one old, two newer ones, and even a film of the play version of the novel. Watching one is the perfect opportunity to practice Common Core standard #7. You can find all of my resources for teaching Of Mice and Men here.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of Of Mice and Men for yourself, you can find it on Amazon here.

For more reading suggestions for students and teachers:



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1 comments

  1. Brynn, I love this story too. Classic. Simple. Poignant. I think so much of its power is in its innocent simplicity and love. Thanks for reminding me!

    ~Jonathan

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