Of Mice and Men

James Harrison
Mind Map by James Harrison, updated more than 1 year ago
James Harrison
Created by James Harrison about 6 years ago


Of mice and men character, themes, symbolism and context breakdown

Resource summary

Of Mice and Men
  1. Context
    1. 1920's & 1930's America
      1. Time for prosoperity and hope
        1. Representative of George & Lennie


          • At the beginning of the novel the pair are optimistic for the future and consistently dream of living of the "fatta the lan'"
        2. Worst of the Great Depression
          1. Food shortages and high unemployment


            • "There was then no dole to fall back on, so food was short and the unemployed in cities couldn't pay their rent. Some ended up in settlements called 'Hoovervilles' (after the US president of the time, Herbert C Hoover), in shanties made from old packing cases and corrugated iron." http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/english_literature/prosemicemen/0prose_mice_men_contrev2.shtml
        3. Droughts in the Mid-West
          1. Failed harvests and dried up land in Oklahoma and Texas
        4. Characters
          1. Slim
            1. Wise 'old' man
              1. experinced on the ranch
                1. experinced
                  1. Knowladge
                    1. understands his sorroundings
              2. Curley's Wife
                1. Only female character
                  1. Only ever referred to in relation to her husband, shows a lack of identity
                    1. Seen as property
                      1. Womens rights at the time was still a grey area
                    2. She is viewed as being manipulative and dangerous
                      1. "jailbait"
                        1. "tart"
                          1. "Rouged Lips" "Red Mules"
                            1. RED
                              1. Colour Theory suggests Passion, Danger, Incongruity


                                • Incongruous: not in harmony or keeping with the surroundings or other aspects of something https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=incongruous&oq=incongruous&aqs=chrome..69i57&sourceid=chrome&es_sm=122&ie=UTF-8
                            2. Her development shows her to be insecure and lonely
                          2. Crooks
                            1. stable buck
                              1. victim of discrimination and ostracization
                                1. Lives away from the rest of the group
                                  1. Kick by a horse
                                    1. hunch backed as a result
                                    2. Has lowest social and economic class on the ranch
                                      1. 'Crooks' is a nickname
                                        1. Like curleys wife he is not named and so si denied an identity and voice
                                        2. Most of the ranch workers refer to him in derogatory, racist tems
                                          1. Racism in america is a major problem
                                            1. Black people had little to no rights
                                          2. He is proud, dignified man who is well-read and completely aware of his legal rights
                                            1. He is cynical of the world and suspicious of people
                                            2. Boss
                                              1. Highest status
                                                1. owns ranch
                                                  1. only seen in one instance
                                                  2. Candy
                                                    1. Elderly
                                                      1. Represents the elderly as a forgotten generation
                                                      2. Honest
                                                        1. loyalty
                                                          1. Has / Had a dog
                                                            1. 'Put down', arguably murdered, by Clarson
                                                              1. Foreshadows Candy's future on the ranch as someone who has outlived their use
                                                          2. Injury is an inevitable by-product of a life of physical labour
                                                            1. Ostracised because of his disability and age
                                                              1. Possibly and older George?
                                                                1. Entirely devoted to the dream reflecting his naivety
                                                                  1. An escape
                                                                2. MAIN
                                                                  1. Lennie
                                                                    1. Big
                                                                      1. Physically very strong which contrasts with his childlike emotions
                                                                        1. Surname 'Small' An ironic reference to his size.
                                                                      2. Slow
                                                                        1. Mentally & physiclly
                                                                          1. Speech
                                                                            1. often mumbled
                                                                            2. Disabled
                                                                            3. Innocent?
                                                                              1. Child like
                                                                              2. Short for Leonard, from Lewenhart (Old High Gernan) meaning as strong as a lion
                                                                                1. Central to the tragedy of the novella, he is doomed from the start; his actions foreshadow and direct the narrative
                                                                                  1. Described in animalistic terms to emphasise his simple, instinctual nature
                                                                                    1. The innocence of his dream is undermined by his disability, suggesting that it is not a reasonable view of the world
                                                                                    2. George
                                                                                      1. Small
                                                                                        1. intelligent
                                                                                          1. The "brains" of the pair
                                                                                          2. Responsible for lennie
                                                                                            1. father figure
                                                                                            2. Short-tempered but honest, conscientious and loyal
                                                                                              1. Protective of Lennie which may be the source of his curt nature


                                                                                                • Curt: rudely brief. https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=curt+definition&oq=curt+def&aqs=chrome.0.0j69i57j0l4.2047j0j7&sourceid=chrome&es_sm=122&ie=UTF-8
                                                                                              2. He is perhaps bound to lennie from guilt of his teasing when younger
                                                                                                1. From Georgos (Greek) meaning 'earth worker'
                                                                                                  1. Milton (sur name) is possibly a link to John Milton and 'Paradise Lost'


                                                                                                    • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradise_Lost
                                                                                                    1. He has simple pleasures and is an idealist as shown in his dream of self-sufficiency
                                                                                                      1. Refers to American Dream
                                                                                                      2. Killing Lennie is an act of mercy and self-sacrifice as it reders the dream as unobtainable
                                                                                                  2. Themes
                                                                                                    1. Relationships
                                                                                                      1. Migrant workers struggle to maintain permanent relationships
                                                                                                        1. George and Lennie are strengthened by their friendship
                                                                                                          1. Mutually beneficial
                                                                                                            1. Contrasted by Curley and his Wife.
                                                                                                              1. Loveless marrige
                                                                                                          2. Loneliness / Isolation
                                                                                                            1. All characters are isolated in some way
                                                                                                              1. Even George and Lennie
                                                                                                              2. Some characters feel lonely
                                                                                                                1. Whit
                                                                                                                  1. Candy
                                                                                                                    1. Curley's Wife
                                                                                                                    2. Crooks insists on being alone, although it is clear he does not like it
                                                                                                                      1. It's safer for him
                                                                                                                      2. Characters struggle to express themselves:
                                                                                                                        1. Curley is aggressive
                                                                                                                          1. Carlson lacks empathy
                                                                                                                        2. Dreams / aspirations
                                                                                                                          1. Most characters dream for a better life
                                                                                                                            1. George, Lennie and candy long to be self-sufficient: The American Dream
                                                                                                                              1. Crooks is cynical about dreams due years of discrimination
                                                                                                                              2. Title: Of Mice and Men
                                                                                                                                1. Allusion to a Robert Burns poem 'To a mouse, on turning up in her nest with the plough'
                                                                                                                                  1. "The best-laid schemes o' mice an 'men Gang aft agley, "
                                                                                                                                    1. The best laid plans of mice and men Often go awry,


                                                                                                                                      • Awry away from the usual or expected course; amiss. https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=awry&oq=awry&aqs=chrome..69i57&sourceid=chrome&es_sm=122&ie=UTF-8
                                                                                                                                  2. Don't make plans, they will always fail
                                                                                                                                    1. Emphasises the fatalistic tone of the novella
                                                                                                                                      1. Life is harsh and dreams are fragile
                                                                                                                                  3. Style and technique
                                                                                                                                    1. Technique
                                                                                                                                      1. Structure
                                                                                                                                        1. Episodic
                                                                                                                                          1. clear & simple
                                                                                                                                          2. Writen in 3rd person narrative with a variety of narrative perspective
                                                                                                                                            1. Starts and ends in the brush with George and Lennie running away
                                                                                                                                              1. Structure is cyclical
                                                                                                                                                1. No escape
                                                                                                                                                2. History repeats itself, showing that the characters are caught in a vicious circle
                                                                                                                                                  1. George has to break the cycle by killing lennie
                                                                                                                                                  2. Language
                                                                                                                                                    1. Language is simple and direct
                                                                                                                                                      1. High proportion of dialogue
                                                                                                                                                        1. Dialogue uses slang and dialect
                                                                                                                                                          1. Language reflects the characters, time and place
                                                                                                                                                            1. Stienbeck gives a voice to the ignored strata of society
                                                                                                                                                            2. Symbolism
                                                                                                                                                              1. Contrast of natural beauty with life on the ranch
                                                                                                                                                                1. The title of the novella
                                                                                                                                                                  1. The shooting of Candy's dog
                                                                                                                                                                    1. Foreshadows the mercy killing of lennie
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