How is _Of Mice and Men_an allegory?
- Each character in Of Mice and Men symbolizes a group of people in society, making the novel allegorical. The following characters symbolize a segment of society who faces discrimination: Lennie - the handicapped; Crooks - racial minorities; Curley’s wife - women; Candy - the elderly. The boss represents the faceless corporations who run things behind the scenes. Curley, the boss’s son, represents society’s privileged bullies. Carlson symbolizes the working man, who operates mechanically with very little thought. George represents the frustrated working class who works hard, gets nowhere, and drowns his sorrows with alcohol and other vices. (For a lesson plan on how to teach allegory in Of Mice and Men, follow the link.)
What are some recurring images in _Of Mice and Men_and what is their purpose?
- Trees and leaves, sun and light, water, animals, and sound are five recurring images in Of Mice and Men. The trees, leaves, sun, light, and water images in chapter 1 establish an Edenic paradise where the cares of the world disappear. It is where Lennie and George spend the night before going into the harsh world. At the end of the novel, Lennie runs here for safety, but in a fallen world, there is no safety. Animal imagery is often used in association with Lennie. Animals do not fare well in this novel; nor does Lennie. (For a lesson plan on teaching imagery in Of Mice and Men, follow the link.)
From where does the title of the novel come and what is its significance?
- The title of the novel comes from a line in Robert Burns' “To a Mouse,” a poem about a mouse who has great plans and builds a beautiful home. Little does the mouse know the farmer’s plow is on its way to destroy his dream home and his world. Burns reminds the reader that “the best laid schemes of mice and men often go askew.” Anyone who has read the novel would agree that Lennie and George’s schemes go askew (unless you consider shooting your best friend in the back of the head as a desirable result, of course). (For a lesson plan on teaching the significance of the title, follow the link)
Explain the circular plot structure of the novel and explain its significance.
- The novel begins and ends at the riverbed, symbolic of George and Lennie’s futile attempt to move forward in life and their inability to escape life’s cruelties. Lennie gets a puppy in chapter 2 and kills it in chapter 5. Everything good that Lennie touches is destroyed. The happy discussion of George and Lennie’s dream in chapter 3 is ended with the arrival of Curley. The happy discussion of George and Lennie’s dream in chapter 4 is ended with the arrival of Curley’s wife. (For a lesson plan on analyzing circular plot structure in Of Mice and Men, follow the link)
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Avoid the bullet in the back of the head on test day with this Of Mice and Men study guide.