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John Steinbeck (Of Mice and Men)

John Steinbeck (Of Mice and Men)

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Author: Nikki Hansen
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To provide a brief biography of the author, John Steinbeck. Also, to provide information on how to read Of Mice and Men and its major themes.

This packet provides information about the author and discusses themes, symbols and reading tips for Of Mice and Men as well.

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Tutorial

Who Was John Steinbeck?

 

John Steinbeck

February 27, 1902 – December 20, 1968

John Steinbeck was born in Salinas, CA in 1902.  Over his lifetime, he wrote 27 novels including the well known Grapes of Wrath, Of Mice of Men, The Pearl and East of Eden.

Steinbeck graduated high school in 1919.  He started, but never completed, his degree at Stanford.  He married three times, but only had children with his second wife - Gwyn Conger.  

In 1962, Steinbeck won the Nobel Prize for literature for his "realistic and imaginative writing, combining as it does sympathetic humor and keen social perception."

His literary influences include Al Kapp, Faulkner and Hemingway.

Steinbeck died on December 20, 1968 from congestive heart failure. 

Source: wiki, nikki

Of Mice and Men

OfMiceAndMen.jpg

Of Mice and Men was first published in 1937 and tells the tragic story of Lennie and George, two displaced migrant workers in California that are just trying to survive the Great Depression.  Major characters in the story include George, Lennie, Curley and Candy.

Themes: A major theme through Steinbeck's works is that of the struggles of the working/oppressed working class.  He did detailed research to make his stories as accurate as possible.  In Of Mice and Men, common themes to read for include dreams and aspirations, loneliness, various forms of power (physical power, financial power, etc) and fate. 

Source: wiki, nikki

How to Read Of Mice and Men

There are a few things in this novel that you should pay close attention to. 

First: How does Steinbeck create the setting and mood in this novel? Pay close attention to his use of language (and metaphors).  How do the characters and environment mirror each other?

Second: Try and perform a character analysis on each character in the novel.  They all have an important meaning!  How does Steinbeck use dialogue and description to create the characters?  What are the relationships like between the characters - and why are they like that?  What do the characters say that helps you understand what's going on in the their world (historically)?

Third:  Sometimes Steinbeck uses "dialect" in his books, which can be hard to read through.  Sound it out - out loud!  Reading these parts out loud will help you to better understand what the character is saying. 

Fourth: Remember, remember, remember to gather examples from the novel on all of/some of these points! Try taking notes on the themes that interest you.  Write down page numbers, underline quotes, mark the pages, etc.  

Fifth: How does Steinbeck develop the key themes in the novel?  Which characters does he use to drive these themes, and what is the evidence to prove it?

Themes in John Steinbeck

This video discusses themes in Of Mice and Men.

Source: youtube, 60secondrecap

Symbols in Of Mice and Men

This video discusses a major symbol (dreams and imagination) in the novel.

Source: youtube, 60secondrecap