Context• When the novel is set• Historical/social factors that are relevant tothe time it is set• Where the novel is set and why• How the context affects the plot,characters and themes• Could you answer the question How arethe ranch workers affected by the contextof the story?
Great DepressionCaliforniaRelationshipsMass unemploymentMigrant/itinerant workers1930sRacism/inequalityDreamsReal places“No Help Wanted”RanchesNo benefitsHungerAmerican Dream
The title• Alliterative connection between mice and men –both subject to fate• Context of title gives biggest clue as totragedy/pessimism for the dreamThe best laid schemes o’ mice and menGang aft a-gley (often go wrong)• Struggle for survival in Burns’ poem hints atvulnerability and helplessness of characters• Could you answer the question What is thesignificance of the title?
Plot• Know the story inside out ie. READ andRE-READ• Write detailed summaries of each of thesix chapters so you know exactly when allthe main events take place• Consider what we learn about the pastand the future in each section
When did it happen?• Lennie breaks Curley’s wife’s neck• Candy shows them around the bunkhouse• Lennie goes to the brush, as instructed byGeorge• Lennie has a dead mouse in his pocket• Candy’s dog is shot• All the men go into town except Crooks,Candy and Lennie
Characters• Physical description• Personality and behaviour• What events/themes they are involved in• What role they play/their importance• Relationships with other characters• What they say/what others say about them• Use of language• Could you answer the question It is possible tofeel sympathy for all the characters in the novel.Which of the characters do you feel mostsympathy for?
Who…• Used to be a boxer?• Is the swamper?• Is the jerkline skinner?• Likes to gossip about people?• Acts like a parent?• Taunts Lennie?• Shoots Candy’s dog?
Themes• Themes are the main ideas which runthrough the novel• They help us to identify Steinbeck’sintentions when writing the novel ie. theissues he wanted to highlight• Link them to characters and events• Could you answer the question Discussthe importance of dreams in the novel.
Setting• Ensure you know where the novel is set and why• Setting is made clear at the start of everychapter – like stage directions in a play – and allthe chapter events take place in that location• Steinbeck uses real geographical locations• Remember that Soledad means ‘loneliness’• Could you answer the question Choose one ofthe settings and show how it is important to thenovel as a whole.
The Bunkhouse The BunkhouseCrook’s room (theharness room)Clearing by theSalinas riverClearing by theSalinas riverBarnWhich chapter?Why important?
Imagery/symbolism• Animals• Hands• Names• The colour red• Light and darkness
Key Quotations• Learn some short quotations so that youcan use them in your longer essayresponse• Organise these under the headings:characters, themes, plot, setting, language• Keep the quotations short• If you can’t remember them exactly, youcan paraphrase
Who says?• “I seen the guys that go around on the ranchesalone. That ain’t no good.”• “You hadda, George. I swear you hadda.”• “Coulda been in the movies an’ had niceclothes.”• “Why do you got to get killed. You ain’t so littleas mice.”• “Come on ya big bastard. Get up on your feet.No big son-of-a-bitch is gonna laugh at me.”GeorgeCurleySlimCurley’s wifeLennie
Structure• Novella• Similar style to a play - importance ofentrances and exits, use of visual description• Significance of opening and ending• Chronological order• Cyclical structure eg. opens and closes insame place and the characters’ lives areroutine so become monotonous• Use of foreshadowing eg. which events givehints as to what will happen later on?
ForeshadowingWhat do the following foreshadow?• The shooting of Candy’s dog• The events in Weed• The dead mouse in chapter one• Lennie crushing Curley’s hand
Language and style• Use of omniscient narrator (3rdperson)• Use of unusual metaphors and similes• Vivid description of landscapes, setting andcolour• Californian accent and dialect to emphasisecharacters and setting• Colloquial word choices, specific to ranch life• Swearing/racist comments – to shock? Forrealism?
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