“Of Mice and Men” paper assignment



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“Of Mice and Men” paper assignment

  • OF MICE AND MEN
  • LITERARY ANALYSIS

Warmup essay question observations

  • Big picture:
  • Context, especially for quotes. Introduce the quote by giving it context: who is saying it; where and when it is said; why it is said (in response to someone else, or to a particular situation).

Warmup essay question observations

  • During this time period, many blacks were hated and treated disrespectfully. “Listen, Nigger. You know what I can do to you if you open your trap?” (80). This is a powerful statement that shows how much more power a white person had over an African American.
  • During this time period, many blacks were hated and treated disrespectfully. This is evident in the scene in Crooks’ room, when Curley’s wife reminds Crooks of his place on the social ladder: “Listen, Nigger. You know what I can do to you if you open your trap?” (80). This powerful statement shows how much more power a white person had over an African American.

Warmup essay observations

  • Putting the text to work
  • In this form of writing, it’s very effective (and in this assignment, required) to use passages from the book to help support your points. This not only provides “evidence” for your points, it also adds multiple voices to your writing (as long as you don’t overdo it).
  • Let’s see how this works. Let’s say we’re still writing our paper about Crooks.

Warmup essay observations

  • The effects of this isolation becomes clear when
  • Crooks confides in Lennie during a poignant moment in
  • Crooks’ room. Lennie’s mental retardation and short
  • memory span gives Crooks the confidence to bare his
  • soul without fear of getting in trouble. After painting a
  • terrifying picture for Lennie of life without George –
  • who Lennie travels with, idolizes, and loves – Crooks
  • turns his harsh words inward. He tells Lennie how
  • hard it is to be shunned by the other men, and how
  • lonely it gets in the barn with just books to keep Crooks company.

Warmup essay observations

  • There’s nothing wrong with that paragraph. However, it becomes even more effective if we let Crooks do some of the talking, like this:
  • The effects of this isolation becomes clear when Crooks confides in Lennie during a poignant moment in Crooks’ room. Lennie’s mental retardation and short memory span give Crooks the confidence to bare his soul without fear of getting in trouble. After painting a terrifying picture for Lennie of life without George – who Lennie travels with, idolizes, and loves – Crooks turns his harsh words inward, saying about his own lonely life that, “A guy needs somebody – to be near him. A guy goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody” (72).

Warmup essay observations

  • We have used Crooks’ own words to help support our point. Because they are Crooks’ words, we put them in quotation marks. Notice that we put the page number, in parentheses, where the quote comes from. In this seminar, we’re only using material from one source, so we do not need to identify the author with the page number; simply use the page number.

Warmup essay question observations

  • Proper formatting of quotes
  • Example: After painting a terrifying picture for Lennie of life without George – who Lennie travels with, idolizes, and loves – Crooks turns his harsh words inward, saying about his own lonely life that, “A guy needs somebody – to be near him. A guy goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody” (72).

Warmup essay question observations

  • Writing in present tense
  • Because literature is timeless, it is written about in present tense. For example, George and Lennie are on an endless quest for their dream because the story starts anew each time a new reader picks up the book. They are forever in the circumstances of the book. To a new reader, Lennie is mentally challenged, not was. Even after you finish reading the book, Slim still moves with the majesty of a master craftsman.

Warmup essay observations

  • So let’s look at some samples of how the world in the book is caught in time. It never ends.
  • Original: When Lennie killed the mice and puppy, when Carlson killed Candy’s dog, and when the heron ate the snake; this all foreshadowed what happened to Lennie at the end.

Of Mice and Men

  • Notice how all of the verbs or action words are in the past tense: killed the mice; killed Candy’s dog; the heron ate the snake; all foreshadowed what happened to Lennie.
  • The solution: simply convert the verbs to present tense.
  • Revised: When Lennie kills the mice and puppy, when Carlson kills Candy’s dog, and when the heron eats the snake; this all foreshadows what happens to Lennie at the end.

Warmup essay observations

Warmup essay observations

  • Your correction should look like this:
  • George and Lennie have more than just a friendship; they are different than any other ranch workers.

Warmup essay observations

  • OK, your next challenge: writing in third person. This simply means taking “I,” “we,” “us,” “my,” “mine,” and “our” out of your writing. Those are first-person words.
  • In this type of analysis, you need to write in third person. Think of it as becoming a professional critic for this paper. You don’t need to say things like “I think.” It’s implied that you know. Does it make your opinion the only right one? No, but this is your reading of the book. When someone reads your analysis, you become a source who knows what you are saying.

Warmup essay observations

  • First-person example:
  • Friendship can teach us some strange but meaningful lessons.
  • Solution: Simply remove “us.”
  • Friendship can teach some strange but meaningful lessons.

Warmup essay observations

  • Now you try changing one from first person to third person:
  • My final example is a little more vague. Just before the scene where George kills Lennie, a heron snatches a snake out of the water.

Warmup essay observations

  • You could have done something like this:
  • Although not as obvious, the encounter between the heron and the snake provides a meaningful illustration of foreshadowing.

Warmup essay question observations

  • MISCELLANEOUS
  • Be careful with absolutes: “all black people were treated terribly”; “everybody on the ranch hates Crooks”
  • Always note that Lennie accidentally kills the mouse, puppy, and Curley’s wife
  • Stay in formal diction: Avoid slang terms: “a ton of discrimination”; “would totally suck to be Curley’s wife”; “George has Lennie’s back.”
  • Sometimes, quoted material from the book can be paraphrased (restated in your words), especially longer quotes.
  • It’s almost always more effective, especially in an attention-getter, to make a statement, rather than ask a question.
  • Stay away from “According to the dictionary…” or “Loneliness is defined as….”

Warmup essay observations

  • Spelling
  • Curley (with an “e”); Curley’s wife (lowercase “w”); Lennie (“ie” not “y”).
  • Crooks; not Cooks, Crucks
  • John Steinbeck; not John Steinaback, John Stinebeck, John Stainback, John Stienback, DEFINITELY NOT Jerry Steinbeck.
  • woman = singular; women = plural


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