Sophie: Of Mice and Men and Curley Essay

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‘Of Mice and Men’

By John Steinbeck

Revision Booklet

English Literature
Unit 1: Part B:
Exploring Cultures

The examination

This is worth 20% of the total GCSE
It is 45 minutes of a 90 minute exam.
You must answer ONE question. The question is in two parts:
Part A: candidates respond to a passage from the text
Part B: candidates must link this passage to the whole text.

Sample question:

Read the passage ‘On one side of the little room… lighter than his face’ (pg 66-67, penguin ed.)

a) How do the details of this passage add to your understanding of Crooks?
b) How does Steinbeck use the character of Crooks in the novel as a whole to convey ideas about America in the 1930s?

Assessment criteria

AO1: Respond to texts critically and imaginatively, select and evaluate textual detail to illustrate and support interpretations.

AO2: Explain how language, structure and form contribute to writers’ presentation of ideas, themes and settings.

AO4: Relate texts to their social, cultural and historical contexts; explain how texts have been influential and significant to self and other readers in different contexts and at different times.


What you need to have revised:

ALL the characters. You could get asked about any of them!

ALL the key settings.

ALL the key THEMES (‘big ideas’) of the story

You need to know what happens in each chapter.

You will need to have learned a number of key quotes that relate to the characters and themes.

What We Will Revise

In order to succeed you will need to be able to write PEEs about the following aspects of the book.

Therefore you will need to know not just what happens but where to find quotes in your copy of the book.

What are the messages of the book?
Big Ideas (loneliness, friendship, the American Dream etc)
How are the themes shown through the plot and characters?

How they talk
What do they want (motivation)
Their relationships with each other
History before we meet them

You will need to list the main places in the story
What is the significance of these places in terms of theme and character?
Social, historical context of the novel: Great Depression etc

On a simple level, what happens in the story
How the characters and their relationships change
How our understanding of the themes and setting change over the course of the book.
Key events in the story which mark the different changes of the characters.


The novel, which takes place during the Great Depression, begins beside the Salinas River near Soledad, California, where two migrant workers, Lennie Small and George Milton, are walking on their way to a nearby ranch. They had recently escaped from a farm near Weed where Lennie, a mentally deficient yet docile man, was wrongly accused of rape when he touched a woman to feel her soft dress. George is his physical opposite, a small man with defined features. George scolds Lennie for playing with a dead mouse and warns him not to speak when they arrive at their new place of employment. When Lennie complains about not having ketchup for the beans they eat for dinner, George becomes angry, telling Lennie that he would be better off if he didn't have to travel with his retarded friend. George soon delineates his dream: he and Lennie will raise enough money to buy a patch of land, where they will have a small farm with a vegetable patch and a rabbit hutch. The rabbit hutch is the only detail of the plan that Lennie consistently remembers. George tells Lennie that, if he gets into trouble as he did in Weed, he should return to the brush near the river and wait for George to find him.
When George and Lennie reach the bunkhouse at the farm where they will work, an old man named Candy