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Of Mice and Men paper assignment

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1 Of Mice and Men paper assignment
LITERARY ANALYSIS There are several themes we can explore as we consider what topic to choose for our Of Mice and Men one-page essay. Let’s look at some of these.

2 OF MICE AND MEN Potential themes Loneliness The importance of dreams
Discrimination Friendship

3 OF MICE AND MEN Let’s choose one of these themes to consider: loneliness Who or what illustrates this theme in the novel? Candy, after his dog is shot. Curley’s wife, who is just looking for someone to talk to. Crooks, who lives alone with little interaction with other people.

4 OF MICE AND MEN Let’s expand these a little more:
Candy: He has only his dog as his one companion. Upon the dog’s death, he has no one, and therefore, attaches himself to George and Lennie’s dream. He does not want to end up an outcast and alone. Even after Lennie kills Curley’s wife, Candy clings to the dream out of desperate fear that he will end up alone. Curley’s wife: She is so overwhelmed by her loneliness, she seeks friendship from the other men, including (as a last resort) Lennie, for none of the other men want anything to do with her. “Think I don’t like to talk to somebody ever’ once in a while?” Crooks: He feels “a guy goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody. Don’t make no difference who the guy is, long’s he with you.” Crooks would work for nothing, as long as he can communicate with others.

5 OF MICE AND MEN What we have done here is form a basis for a literary analysis of Of Mice and Men, concentrating on the theme of loneliness. Candy, Curley’s wife, and/or Crooks could each represent points that could be discussed in a paper about loneliness in the novel. How would we begin this analysis? First, we have to come up with a thesis statement, or a “controlling purpose” regarding loneliness. We start by deciding what we know from our reading about loneliness: It is a constant threat that George and Lennie fight: “Guys like us are the loneliest guys in the world … they don’t belong no place … They ain’t got nothing to look ahead to.” Lennie fights this with, “But not us! … because I got you to look after me, and you got me to look after you…” (14). At the ranch, loneliness is part of the inhabitants’ lives and especially Candy’s, Crooks’s, and Curley’s wife’s. They are so used to this loneliness, others on the ranch suspect something funny about the closeness of George and Lennie (for example, the boss thinks George is taking Lennie’s pay). George knows that without Lennie’s companionship, he will be doomed to a terribly lonely and unfulfilling life.

6 OF MICE AND MEN So can we create a thesis statement out of that, reflecting the theme of loneliness? (Note: Theme is what a story reveals, not what it teaches: That is the moral.) Maybe it could look something like this: “Loneliness is a harmful thing many characters in the book experience. The story shows that all humans need companionship or else they get emotionally sick.” That thesis statement could be the main part of our introduction. What else does an introduction need?

7 OF MICE AND MEN In addition to a thesis statement, an introduction ideally includes: An attention-getting first sentence. The name of the author and the title of the book. A preview of points that will be used to support the thesis.

8 OF MICE AND MEN Let’s think of an attention-getter, based on the theme of loneliness and how it can make us emotionally sick. How about: Loneliness is a virus that can devour the human spirit.

9 OF MICE AND MEN Now let’s add our other elements:
Loneliness is a virus that can devour the human spirit. This sickness devastates many of the emotionally malnourished characters in John Steinbeck’s heartbreaking novel, Of Mice and Men. Candy, the aged and disabled swamper, is consumed by the loss of his only companion, his dog. Curley’s wife, ignored by her husband and seen by the other ranch hands as a trouble-making tart, is starved for attention. Denied friendship, Crooks wastes away alone in his room and shows more than any other character how loneliness eats away at the human soul.

10 OF MICE AND MEN We have accomplished our goals: An attention getter
A clear thesis statement Introduction of points As an added bonus, this paragraph has a theme: emotional starvation. Think of all the words or phrases that go with eating: Devour Malnourished Consumed Starved eat away wastes away (usually refers to losing weight due to illness)

11 OF MICE AND MEN What if we wanted to choose another theme or maybe something besides theme to write about? Alternate theme: Dreams Attention getter: Everyone has a dream that gives him or her purpose in life. Thesis statement: Dreams play an important role in John Steinbeck’s novel Of Mice and Men, which includes characters who illustrate how dreams are often crucial to survival in a hostile and lonely world. Three points: This is demonstrated through George and Lennie’s dream to buy some land of their own; Candy’s dream to join George and Lennie so Candy won’t end up outcast and alone; and Curley’s wife’s dream to become a starlet.

12 OF MICE AND MEN What about something besides theme? Let’s try looking at the literary device of foreshadowing, as shown in this essay by a freshman last year: Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck is a heart-wrenching novel about two migrant workers living during the Great Depression, sharing the dream of owning a farm to call their own. Even before the ending, however, there are clues to show that this dream is not to be, including three important examples of foreshadowing: the dead mice, Lennie’s conversation with Crooks, and the death of Candy’s dog.

13 OF MICE AND MEN Here’s another one about foreshadowing from a freshman: The natural beauty of Western California serves as a setting of contrast to the lives of Depression-era ranch workers Lennie Small and George Milton, the protagonists in Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. Part of that beauty is George and Lennie’s dreams of the future, including owning their own farm. However, the ugly reality is that the dream is doomed. Steinbeck uses foreshadowing to give the reader a hint that the dream won’t happen, especially through animals. He uses dead mice, a dead puppy, and a heron and snake to show that George and Lennie’s dream is not meant to be.

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