The following analytical paper topics are designed to test your understanding of this novel as a whole and to analyze important themes and literary devices. Following each question is a sample outline to help you get started.
Loneliness is a dominant theme in Of Mice and Men. Most of the characters are lonely and searching for someone who can serve as a companion or just as an audience. Discuss the examples of character loneliness, the efforts of the characters in search of companionship, and their varying degrees of success.
I. Thesis statement: In his novel Of Mice and Men, Steinbeck depicts the essential loneliness of California ranch life in the 1930s. He illustrates how people are driven to find companionship.
II. Absence of character names
A. The Boss
B. Curley’s wife
III. George and Lennie
A. Consider each other family
B. Lennie described as a kind of pet
C. George’s philosophy about workers who travel alone
D. The Godlike Slim as George’s audience
A. Candy’s attachment to his dog
B. The death of his dog
C. His request to join George and Lennie
D. His need to share his thoughts with Lennie
A. Isolated by his skin color
B. His eagerness for company
C. His desire to share the dream of the farm
VI. Curley’s wife
A. Flirting with the workers
B. Talking to Crooks, Candy, and Lennie in the barn
C. Persuading Lennie to listen to her
VII. The hope and power when people have companions
A. George and Lennie
VIII. The misery of each when companionship is removed
The novel Of Mice and Men is written using the same structure as a drama, and meets many of the criteria for a tragedy. Examine the novel as a play. What conventions of drama does it already have? Does it fit the definition of a tragedy?
I. Thesis statement: Steinbeck designed his novel Of Mice and Men as a drama, more specifically, a tragedy.
II. The novel can be divided into three acts of two chapters (scenes)
A. First act introduces characters and background
B. Second act develops conflicts
C. Third act brings resolution
III. Settings are simple for staging
IV. Most of the novel can be transferred into either dialogue or stage directions
A. Each chapter opens with extensive detail to setting
B. Characters are described primarily in physical terms
V. The novel fits the definition of tragedy
A. The protagonist is an extraordinary person who meets with misery
B. The story celebrates courage in the face of defeat
C. The plot ends in an unhappy catastrophe that could not be avoided
There are many realistic and naturalistic details in Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men.
Discuss how Steinbeck is sympathetic and dispassionate about life through the presentation of realism and naturalism.
I. Thesis Statement: Steinbeck displays a sympathetic and a dispassionate attitude toward man’s and nature’s condition through the use of realistic and naturalistic details.
II. Realism—things as they are
A. Setting of chapter one
B. Description of the bunk house
C. Dialect and slang of the characters
D. Dress and habits of the characters
E. Death as a natural part of life
III. Naturalism—fate at work
A. Animal imagery to describe people
2. Curley’s wife
B. Lower class characters
C. Place names
1. Light and dark
2. Dead mouse and pup
3. Lennie’s desire to leave the ranch
4. Candy’s crippled dog
5. Solitaire card game
E. Symbolism in the last chapter
1. Heron and snake
2. Gust of wind
3. Slim’s comment
The story of George and Lennie lends itself to issues found in the question: Am I my brother’s keeper? Does man have an obligation to take care of his fellow man, and what is the price that must be paid if the answer is “yes” or if the answer is “no”?
I. Thesis Statement: Steinbeck shows that there is a great price to be paid for not being sensitive to the needs of others as well as for taking care of others.
II. The vulnerable ones
III. The heartless ones
A. The boss
C. Curley’s wife
IV. The insensitive one—Carlson
V. The sensitive ones
The American Dream is for every man to have a place of his own, to work and earn a position of respect, to become whatever his will and determination and hard work can make him. In Of Mice and Men the land becomes a talisman, a hope of better things. Discuss the American Dream as presented in the novel.
I. Thesis Statement: For the characters in this novel, the American Dream remains an unfulfilled dream.
II. The dream
A. Owning a home
B. Enjoying freedom to choose
C. Living off the fat of the land
D. Not having to work so hard
E. Having security in old age or sickness
III. The dream’s unrealistic aspects
A. Too good to be true
B. A pipe dream for bindle stiffs
C. Lack of money
IV. George and Lennie’s attitude toward the dream
A. Was a comfort in time of trouble
B. Did not really believe in the dream
V. Crooks’s attitude toward the dream
A. His belief
B. His disappointment
VI. Candy’s attitude toward the dream
A. His belief
B. His money
C. His disappointment at the end
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George's Justice In Killing Lennie In Of Mice And Men--with A Free Essay Review
George had been taking care of Lennie for a long time, he understood that Lennie was just stupid and didnt know what he was doing. When Lennie killed Curleys wife he had been stroking her hair and got tangled in it she started to scream and was afraid and thats when he panicked and that made him grab her hair tighter. He killed her by accident but no one would understand that. So when Curley was going to go after him he would torture Lennie, kill him painfully or even lock him up. All of those things would make Lennie miserable. George had to kill him unexpectedly and calmly so Lennie wouldnt feel anything.
If Curley would have got to Lennie first he would have probably shot him multiple times and not in places that would kill him right away. He would most likely have hurt him and make him feel miserable and helpless. He could as well have Lennie locked up and torture him daily until he would die. Curley would have wanted to get his revenge for Lennie breaking his hand, and there he had an opportunity.
Another reason for George to kill Lennie himself was that he knew how to soothe Lennie and make him happy, and that was talking about their dream place. He told Lennie about the rabbits and that he would tend them. That made Lennie happy and peaceful. It meant all to George that Lennie would not have a horrible death, so he shot Lennie at a time that he was happy and was not expecting death at all.
George also knew Lennie very well. They had been friends for a long time and they cared about each other and looked after one another. Even though George was mostly looking after Lennie than the other way around. It would have been wrong for Lennie to spend his last minutes scared and being threatened by some stranger or even Curly, someone that Lennie did not like.
So it would seem that George was right to kill Lennie. He could have faced a horrifying death or torture if someone else would have killed him. George will of course always have to live with the fact that he killed his friend but he can be comforted by the thought that he was saving him.
I think there are a few issue you could address in your revision of this essay.
1. Try writing an introduction. It should include the name of the novella, the name of the author, a little bit of general information about the novella, or about something related to the aspect of the work that you are interested in (such as Steinbecks cheerful disposition--just kidding) and, then, crucially, a thesis. A thesis is a statement of what you intend to argue in your essay. Sometimes theses begin like this In this essay, I argue that Of Mice and Men is [insert something interesting and arguable about the novella here]. You can use that template or instead approach the problem of writing a thesis more obliquely. But write a thesis. That will help you realise what you arguing in your essay. Realising what you are arguing will help you focus on that argument.
2. In your essay, you dont consistently focus on your argument. Perhaps everything you say could be used to support your argument, but you dont actually use everything you say to support your argument. This is the second thing you should change in your essay. Your reader will not be reading your essay to find out what happens in Of Mice and Men. If your reader wants to find out what happens, she or he will probably read the story. Your reader is reading your essay to find out what your argument about that story is. So you need to focus on articulating the argument. That does not mean should avoid summary altogether. It does mean that you should refer primarily to those parts of the story that you intend to analyse with a view to making and supporting your argument. So refer to some part of the story, quote some part of the story, and then ask yourself, What can I say about this that will help me make my argument compelling?
3. Your basic argument is that George was right to kill Lennie because he wanted in doing so to save Lennie from a worse fate than the relatively painless unexpected death George could give him. Thats not a completely crazy argument (and its also Slims argument), even if its a little superficial, and probably wouldnt get very far in a court of law. I think the problem you have here is that the question is not really a very interesting question, by which I mean its not a question that is seriously raised and thought about it in the novella itself. Steinbeck seems to be interested in death, but not that interested in the ethics of euthanasia. The fact that George does this, kills Lennie, for Lennie is perhaps interesting, though, as a weird consummation of the relationship between George and Lennie, and as an oblique comment on the depressing character of the world inhabited by these characters, a world in which murder can be an act of kindness. Im not sure there are many options for development here for you if you are committed to sticking with the question of whether the killing is justified, though I think you could do a better job of contextualizing the murder (would you call it that?) by explaining how it can be such a consummation of Georges friendship for Lennie. Of course that would require that you refer to more than the last few pages of the work.
4. Finally, on to easier matters: Youve got a comma splice in the first sentence; youre missing the apostrophe to indicate the possessive in the second sentence; youre also missing the comma to separate subordinate and independent clauses in the second sentence; and youve also got a run-on sentence appended to your second sentence. I wont go on, but obviously you have some difficulty with standard orthography, so I would encourage you to undertake a systematic review of the rules governing punctuation (in any grammar book, or at Purdues Online Writing Lab).
Submitted by: katlaboghildur