Of Mice and Men

Grade 9



ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS  (Topics for Journal Entries)


q       What kinds of circumstances are truly beyond an individual’s control and what options are truly within the realm of personal choice? 

q       As a society, what is our responsibility to people whose circumstances are beyond their control?

q       What is our responsibility to those people, like Lennie, who cannot make choices for themselves?

q       What is the meaning of friendship, loneliness and being an outsider?

q       How can friendship/companionship combat loneliness? 

q       Do our friends have to look and act like us? 

q       What is our responsibility to the “friendless?” (less fortunate/less able people) 

q       Can murder ever be justified? What’s the difference between murder and mercy-killing? Who decides? 

q       What is the importance of our dreams? 

q       Do the best-laid plans often go awry? 

q       What happens if our dreams are never realized?

q       What is the most important relationship in your life? What makes this relationship important to you? How would your life be different if the relationship had not occurred and how would you be affected if the relationship ended? How does the relationship affect your decisions and actions? Does it interfere with your freedom? 

q       Consider the nature of man:  what parts of human nature are valuable, what parts are unavoidable but despicable?

q       What separates man from animal?

q       What is humanity?

q       When are tough answers the right answers?

q       How do avoid eye for an eye punishments and visceral responses to misdeeds?  Are there alternatives?

q       What is my vision of paradise?  Does paradise exist?

q       What is the American Dream?  How is this dream a universal dream?  What is your vision of this dream?

q       How does Steinbeck present the issues of the novel?  How does he show setting?  character?  conflict?  What elements are included in each of these items?

q       How does my background affect my understanding of the novel?

q       When I write, how can I use some of these conventions to guide my understanding?

q       What does perspective really mean and how does it apply to this study?

q       Do we or should we make excuses and exceptions for handicapped individuals?

q       What are the handicaps discussed in the novel?

q       What issues are unique to women?

q       What issues are unique to African Americans?

q       What issues are unique to mentally challenged individuals?

q       What role does allegory play in the novel?

q       What connections if any can be made to the Bible?




·         Short essays

·         Research Project/Presentation

·         Reading quizzes

·         A vocabulary test

·         An interactive notebook containing journal entries, drawings and reflections.

·         Frequent quizzes on factual information in the novel, vocabulary and grammar/structural components.

·         Regular participation in classroom discussion.




Activities may take the form of individual or group effort.

·         Students will do a research on John Steinbeck & The Great Depression in the United States.

·         Students will interview an underprivileged worker and write an essay about that.

·         Students will write a response to explain what an important personal relationship means to them.

·         Students will complete a graphic organizer to show the dream George and Lennie share, obstacles in the way of the dream, and the outcome of the dream.

·         Students will write an epilogue to the book to suggest what happens to George after Lennie dies: How is George's life different? Is he alone? Does he need/care for others?

·         Students will file materials in their portfolios/writing folders.

·         Students will write a personal response to each death to place in their portfolios/writing folders.

·         Students will design and produce a flier listing legal, medical, educational, social, and/or religious services available to the people who suffer homelessness, poverty, mental disability, discrimination, or who work as migrants. 

·         Students will write an editorial concerning the plight of one group of the underprivileged in the United States or in Lebanon today.

·         Read sections of the Bible, in particular sections from Genesis.  (Onken)




q       Steinbeck, John "Of Mice and Men"

Library of Congress Web site: http://www.lcweb2.loc.gov/ammem/afctshtml/tshome.html 

University of Wyoming Web site: http://uwadmnweb.uwyo.edu/a&s/ams/971/1930s/dust.htm 

q       Biographical info on John Steinbeck: 



q       Selections from The Bible

q       http://www.lausd.k12.ca.us/Belmont_HS/mice/
http://www.sdcoe.k12.ca.us/score/mice/micetg.html  (Ms. Rundell)





·         Create a new book jacket for the novel.

·         Take black and white photographs that reflect the social issues in the novel.


·         Dramatize scenes from the novel using the published play version or the text of the novel.

Healthful Living

·         Research what Americans had to eat during this era.

·         Create a menu for a family for a week.


·         Research Depression-era income and expenses. Create a monthly budget for a family of four based on the research.


·         Find a song to represent one of the characters. Make a copy of the lyrics. Write a paragraph to explain how the character and the song fit together. Refer to the song lyrics often in order to develop this paragraph fully.

Social Studies

·         Research and report on biographies of famous people from this era.

·         Research and discuss significant court cases involving social issues such as segregation, the mentally disabled, etc.

·         Create a map of northern California at the time of the novel. Include references mentioned in the text such as towns, rivers, mountains, products, etc.

Character Education

·         Explore and analyze the character education traits caring/kindness, fairness/justice, and citizenship/civic virtue found in the novel.