In pairs, think about times in your own lives when things you
had wished and planned for never actually happened. Jot down
ou have five minutes before you feed back to the rest of the
To consider the
relevance of the title
and what it might
tell us about the
themes of the novel.
The TitleThe Title
teinbeck originally titled his book Something
owever, he changed the title after reading a
poem by Robert Burns.
To a MouseTo a Mouse
o a Mouse [on turning her up in her nest with the
plough], written by Scottish poet Robert Burns in
teinbeck used a line from this poem as the title of his
novella. Can you hear the line? Write it down if you
Why this poem?
Read the translated poem on the handout.
What is happening in the poem?
Summarise your stanza.
Small, crafty, cowering, timorous little beast,
O, what a panic is in your little breast!
You need not start away so hasty
With hurrying scamper!
I would be loath to run and chase you,
With murdering plough-staff.
I'm truly sorry man's dominion
Has broken Nature's social union,
And justifies that ill opinion
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor, earth born companion
And fellow mortal!
I doubt not, sometimes, but you may steal;
What then? Poor little beast, you must live!
An odd ear in twenty-four sheaves
Is a small request;
I will get a blessing with what is left,
And never miss it.
You saw the fields laid bare and wasted,
And weary winter coming fast,
And cosy here, beneath the blast,
You thought to dwell,
Till crash! the cruel plough past
Out through your cell.
But little Mouse, you are not alone,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes of mice and men
Go often askew,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!
Still you are blest, compared with me!
The present only touches you:
But oh! I backward cast my eye,
On prospects dreary!
And forward, though I cannot see,
I guess and fear!
magine the scene. An industrious little mouse has busied away
for several weeks to perfect its nest in a field. Then just as it
places its final piece of straw and declares it finished, a young
farm hand accidentally destroys it with his plough. Being a
sensitive soul and not an ASBO with a liking for wanton
destruction, the farmhand thinks how both mice and men
suffer in life. Sometimes, no matter how much preparation and
planning you do, things can easily go wrong and there’s nothing
you can do about it. No one can completely plan for the future.
But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane*
n proving foresight may be vain:
he best-laid schemes o' mice an' men
ang aft agley,*
*often go awry /wrong
n' lea'e us nought* but grief an' pain,
or promised joy.”
*leave us nothing
Why is this passage relevant to the text?
Why this poem?
• Annotate the poem for the following things…
Mankind is killing nature and land
A negative view of the future
Paradox (the size and strength of the mouse)
Similarities to Lennie
So why is the title important?
What does tell us about the
themes of the novel?
rite a paragraph linking the poem to the novella.
hat does using this poem as the novella’s title suggest might
happen to George and Lennie’s ‘best laid schemes’ (their