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Teaching Students to Analyze Imagery in 'Of Mice and Men'

written by: Trent Lorcher • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 1/17/2012

Teaching Imagery while reading Of Mice and Men will help readers understand the novel better.

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    In the Beginning...

    I taught the elements of literature to my high school English students. I just knew they were all going to get A's on the quiz. Everybody got D's and F's. In despair, I welded a desk to my Oldsmobile and rammed it into my college professor's office as punishment for not teaching imagery very well. The impact knocked me out.

    I woke up in my classroom with Helen Keller standing above me. "You must begin teaching imagery in context," she signed, "Teaching imagery must be done with literature. I recommend making it part of your Of Mice and Men lesson plans." She elbowed me in the face and knocked me out again. When I awoke, I found Of Mice and Men lesson plans on my desk.

    Here's the one on analyzing imagery.

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    Objectives for Analyzing Imagery

    Having a clear idea what you want students to learn will help remove the assignment from abstract concepts to concrete skills:

    1. Students will define and discuss imagery.
      • Imagery is the ability to use words to portray a picture using the five senses.
    2. Students will identify 20 examples of imagery in chapter 1.
    3. Students will explain the significance of particular images in chapter 1.
    4. Students will apply the writing process to write a literary analysis paper.
    5. Students will use citations from chapter 1 as evidence.
    6. Students will cite passages in MLA format.
    7. Students will analyze author's purpose.
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    Procedures

    1. There are four imagery loaded passages in chapter one: page 1, the last paragraph on page 7, the middle paragraph on page 10, and page 16.
    2. There are five recurring images on these pages: trees and leaves, sun and light, water, animals, sound.
    3. Make a chart for each recurring image.
      • There should be five rows and 2 columns.
      • On the top row write the recurring image (trees/leaves, for example) in the left column. Write quotation in the right hand column.
      • Write the page number of the passage you want students to analyze in each row of the left column.
      • Leave the right column blank. That's where students write the exact images.
    4. Write a paragraph analyzing the imagery in chapter one. Do not write a separate paragraph for each image. Write about all images together. The paragraph can be a timed writing assignment or a formal essay.
      • Make a broad statement about imagery in chapter 1 for the topic sentence.
      • Use specific examples for supporting details. Cite them correctly.
      • Discuss author's purpose and how imagery affects the theme.
      • Consider the following questions:
        • How do images change as the chapter progresses? What does that symbolize?
        • What might image repetition mean?
        • Is there a pattern between the beginning and ending images of chapter one?
        • How does water interact with nature? with man?
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    More Language Arts Lesson Plans

    Looking for a standards based syllabus for high school language arts? Click the link and find all the resources--lesson plans, unit plans, handouts, powerpoints--you need for an entire semester.

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