Of Mice and Men John Steinbeck
1. About the Author: John Steinbeck • His books are set in California and deal with problems of working people. • Characters in his books are immigrants from Mexico or from other parts of the U.S. who went to CA looking for work or a better life • (The American Dream). Born in Salinas, California 1902-1968
A Look at the Author • Born February 27th in 1902 in Salinas, California, John was the third of four children, and the only son. • During his childhood, Steinbeck learned to appreciate his surroundings, and loved the Salinas countryside and the nearby Pacific Ocean; it would be this appreciation that would later come out in his writing. • Steinbeck worked during his summers as a hired hand in nearby ranches. (What does that mean?)
During the late 1920s and 1930s, he concentrated on writing and wrote several novels set in California. • Steinbeck gained great success by readers and critics.
In 1929, he published his first novel, Cup of Gold • In 1930, Steinbeck married Carol Henning, and they moved into his family’s home. His father helped support the struggling couple, but unfortunately, they divorced in 1942. • In 1935, he won his first literary prize, Commonwealth Club of California Gold Medal for Best Novel by a Californian for his novel, Tortilla Flat. • In 1936, Of Mice and Men was published, and was so widely accepted that Steinbeck began a book tour that led him to Europe.
In 1939, The Grapes of Wrath was published and became an instant best-seller; in 1940 it was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, one of the most prestigious literary awards in the world. • This novel, just like Of Mice and Men, stemmed from his experience working among migrant workers. • Steinbeck’s experiences in the fields researching migrant workers led him to have more compassion for these workers, and stirred up his concern for social justice.
In 1943 he married Gwendolyn Conger who would father him two sons before their divorce in 1948. • In 1943 Steinbeck worked as a war corre- spondent for the New York newspaper, Herald Tribune.
While living in Monterey, California, Steinbeck said that he felt unwelcome as no one would rent him an office for writing, and he was harassed when trying to get fuel and wood from a local wartime rations board. • Steinbeck wrote that his old friends did not want to be around him, partly because of his works, and partly because he was so successful: “This isn't my country anymore. And it won't be until I am dead. It makes me very sad.” He left Monterey the next year and moved to New York.
In 1948 he moved back to Monterey. A year later he met Elaine Scott, who in 1950 became his third wife. • Although he continued to write and publish, he never felt at ease in his life, and once wrote to an aspiring writer from Salinas: “Don't think for a moment that you will ever be forgiven for being what they call ‘different.’ You won’t! I still have not been forgiven. Only when I am delivered in a pine box will I be considered ‘safe.’ After I had written the Grapes of Wrath the librarians at the Salinas Public Library, who had known my folks remarked that is was lucky my parents were dead so that they did not have to suffer this shame.”
One of Steinbeck’s two sons fought in the Vietnam War, while Steinbeck himself was in Asia covering the war for Newsday, a Long Island newspaper. • Steinbeck lost a number of friends during the anti-war movement due to his open support of the war and America’s involvement.
John Steinbeck died on December 20, 1968, at his apartment in New York City. • His wife took him home to Salinas to be buried near the land that he spent his life writing about.
Author Study CQ’s 1. When and where was Steinbeck born? 2. What are Steinbeck’s books usually based on? 3. How did his surroundings influence his writing? 4. During the summer time, what did he usually do? What exactly does that job entail? 5. Name three of his literary accomplishments (in order). 6. Why did he move from California? 7. Name all three of his wives (in order) and the years that he married them and how long they were married. 8. Explain his view on migrant workers. 9. What was his involvement with the war? 10. When and where did he die? Where was he buried?
Time period of Story: 1930’s THE GREAT DEPRESSION
Dust Bowl- Tons of topsoil were blown off barren fields and carried in storm clouds for hundreds of miles.
Many lost their farms because they could not produce any crops. People decided to abandon their farms and go in search of work.
The Wall Street Crash of 1929 • deepest economic depression the nation had ever known. • It lasted until 1939. • Effects: business bankruptcies, bank closings, farm foreclosures, and massive unemployment.
3. Migrant Farm Workers • farm worker/Harvester= someone who gathers a crop • People, especially men, traveled the countryside harvesting crops. • The main characters, George and Lennie, are migrant farm workers.
Lost their jobs • No Money • Lost their farms • ? • ?
California had great farmland and no dust. They would migrate to California
4. The American Dream • The American Dream= people that come to America in search of a better life. *How do you reach the American Dream? What do you want to accomplish?
A Better Life Education Freedom Home Money/Wealth
However, for many the dream became a nightmare. • No Jobs= • No Money= • No food
Many farm laborers and ranch hands travelled the roads in search of work in California.
These are the types of characters Steinbeck writes about
The Book • Of Mice and Men was originally called Something That Happened. • When Steinbeck first thought of the idea for the book he intended it to be for children. Steinbeck told a friend that he was experimenting with a new “dramatic form.” • In May 1936, he wrote a manuscript, but his puppy (a setter called Toby) ate it! • He said of the book: • "It is an experiment and I don't know how successful."
Of Mice and Men • The novel deals with the issues dear to Steinbeck’s heart - poverty, homelessness, the exploitation of itinerant workers, the failure of the Dream, America’s general moral decline.
5. Poem??? The best laid schemes* o’ mice and men Often go wrong And leave us nought* but grief* and pain For promised joy! *schemes= set out plan *nought= with nothing but *grief=sorrow/sadness What is this poem about? Summarize it in 2-3 sentences. How might this poem be related to the book (Of Mice and Men)?
Choice Board Tasks • Students will be divided into five groups. • Each group will choose one task to complete. First come, first served. • 1. Acrostic poem (Either) • 2. Informational song (Background) • 3. Choral reading or Skit (Steinbeck) • 4. Informational Poster (Background) • 5. Graphic Organizer Poster (Steinbeck) • Must include 10 facts and at least 4 new vocabulary words.