Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck (1937)


This assignment is for Semester II of English 9.  You may submit this at any time, but it is due when you reach 50% in your class.  This assignment counts as 10% of your grade.

This novel is available for checkout through the SSLC Bookroom and as a download from onRead.com at http://www.onread.com/book/Of-Mice-and-Men-191086/



This is a short novel.  Perhaps the best way to approach this assignment is to read the book entirely before reading any analysis or before working on the following questions.  Steinbeck works hard to keep the reader interested in the development of the story and the descriptions of characters that come together to create this great classic.  Approach your reading with an open mind.  When you have finished the book, answer the following questions using complete sentences and well-developed paragraphs. The essay should follow the formal essay format.


1.      Write a brief summary of Steinbeck’s success as a writer. You may use the internet and/or the biography in the front of the novel.  Be sure to include how his background may have affected the development of his characters.  Here is a link to the only university research archive in the world dedicated solely to John Steinbeck’s life and work.  http://as.sjsu.edu/steinbeck/

2.      Describe the relationship between George and Lennie.  What did Lennie get from their friendship?  What did George get?  How did their friendship separate them from the other farm hands? 

3.      Foreshadowing is the author’s way of hinting at what is to come. For example, Lennie’s accidental killing of the mouse and the puppy foreshadow an event later in the novel.  Explain how this foreshadowing adds to the story.

4.      What is a migrant worker?  Reflecting on the characters in this novel, describe characteristics you think a migrant worker must possess especially during the time during which the novel was written.  Give at least three examples from your reading.

5.      The final event in the novel is thought to be a “mercy killing.”   Why does the main character conclude this?  Were his actions justified?  Explain using quotes from the novel.

6.      If Lennie had grown up in today’s society, how might the story have differed?  Explain.

7.      Describe George’s dream of Lennie and himself.  Do you think it was a realistic dream?  Why was the dream so important to them?  Why did Candy and Crooks want to share in the dream? 

8.      Curley’s wife often flirts with the other men.  Why does she do this?  What reasons does she offer?  Give specific examples from the novel.

9.      Assume that Lennie was caught and brought to trial.  What would have been his defense? 

10.  Lennie, George, Curley’s wife, Curley, and Crooks, in his or her own way, are tragic characters.  For which one do you have the most sympathy?  Why?  Write about your feelings in a well-developed paragraph.

11.  Scholars have stated that the theme of this novel is “defeated hope and harsh reality of the American Dream.”  Do you agree with this statement?  Give reasons why.

12.  ESSAY--- Please follow the formal essay format (5 paragraph essay).  Discuss the lesson(s) you think the author wanted readers to learn by reading this novel.  Support your lessons with examples/quotes from the book.  Include whether or not you think the author was successful.


Select ONE of the following projects or visit with Connie about an alternative choice. 

13.  Draw or sketch one of your favorite characters of the story.

14.  Locate three photographs that could set the overall scene (or any scene) for this novel.  (Example:  farm house during the 30’s, migrant worker, etc.)  Write a brief description of each of the scenes and people, and add why your selection was made.

15.  Write an alternate ending where the characters have “a happy ending.”

16.  Create a book cover (hand drawn or computer generated) that would be appealing to teenage readers. Check out the variety of software programs you could use in Smart Lab and challenge yourself to try something new!

17.  EXTRA CREDIT---Create an e-portfolio of your work (like you would create in Smart Lab) and email the portfolio to me.