Short Story Essay Ideas For Of Mice

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.

  • Topic #1
    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

    IV. Candy
    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

    V. Crooks
    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
    B. Candy
    C. Crooks

    VIII. The misery of each when companionship is removed
    A. Crooks
    B. Candy
    C. George

  • Topic #2

    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

  • Topic #3

    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
    1. Water
    2. Animals
    3. Plants
    4. People
    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
    1. Lennie
    2. Curley’s wife
    B. Lower class characters
    C. Place names
    1. Soledad
    2. Weed
    D. Foreshadowing
    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

  • Topic #4

    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
    A. Lennie
    B. Candy
    C. Crooks

    III. The heartless ones
    A. The boss
    B. Curley
    C. Curley’s wife

    IV. The insensitive one—Carlson

    V. The sensitive ones
    A. Slim
    B. George

  • Topic #5

    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
    1. Activities
    2. Companions
    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

  • “Of Mice and Men” it is a very famous work, which was written in 1937 by world-known storyteller and famous essay writer John Steinbeck. A long  time ago, the story has been granted with the classic status. “Of Mice and Men” text is so powerful, but it is not as simple as  it may seem when you just begin to read it. Once more a bitter tale about “little” people.

    John Steinbeck’s Story

    The story of John Steinbeck shows us the tragic story of two hard workers in the Great Depression period in California. It concerns such concepts as “a dream”, “a guilt” and “a compassion”. The book is based on Steinbeck’s  personal experience, who worked in agriculture in 1920.

    Steinbeck does not differ some particular points, there are even pictures in black and white upon the eyes which help to feel complete the America’s atmosphere of those years. The author described everything so deep and clearly that no one could not pass heartless through this story. Be ready to hear and feel all voices, all sounds all emotions of that book. 
    It is so hard to write an analysis about this work. There are so many thoughts in the head. The Great Depression,  America of The twenties, the lack of money and the most important thing for everyone is to survive by anyways. People plough to feed their families from morning till late at night, everyone is looking for a corner in this cruel world, everyone wants to find someone with whom you can just talk heart to heart, and whom to trust and each person has a dream, all of them dream about something internal, theirs own. 

    George and Lenny

    “Of Mice and Men,” it is a very touching and tragic story about love and friendship, loyalty and unfulfilled dreams. Of course, the work wins with its characters described there. They are incredibly alive and realistic. Two friends, two vagrants, George, and Lenny have been searching for a work arrived at the following ranch. Lenny is the mentally retarded man, but - a very good and strong one, George is his friend who always protects his companion who is in twice larger. They will never leave each other. Lenny, an amiable “idiot”, constantly forgets everything and is completely harmless, like a child, but he can harm himself and always brings trouble, that is why, George permanently have to keep an eye on him, and friends always travel from farm to farm. And they are dreaming of their own one: to breed chickens, pigs, rabbits and other animals, to plant a vegetable garden and walk on circuses and fairs. And only they will be the owner of all the farm and nobody can expel them. Lenny is in some kind very unmindful and always asks George to repeat about what awaits them in the future, about the farm, about independence  The main thing is - they are in each other: “Because I have you, and you have me”. Lenny sincerely believes in that dreams and George, always faithfully protecting his illusions and hopes, starts to believe in them too. How few people need to be happy and how much people need to be happy... The destiny has always her own plans.

    Almost from the very first paragraph, this short story was imbued with some kind of despair. The fate smiles so rarely to  such simple hard workers like George and Lennie. First of all, the story is about a collapse of hopes, about something unrealizable, which always supports human life, even if he knows that this will never happen. In some moments, it is simply hurt to read this story because you start to pass it through yourself. So naive and timid mentally retarded people had to face with that cruel, vile and insolent world, and they are forced to live in it, looking in it with their uncomplicated innocent and kind eyes, expecting only the best. I would like to have a better world that would accept them. 
    The author’s subtle and vital  description of all events and experiences, which are close to each of us. The story language is so simple and soulful. There are no frills, no cobwebs, and nevertheless, the characters fate and their relationship are so catchy that it is impossible to break away. After all, this is still a rarity, when two friends meet such loyalty and affection for each other, when they cherish common dreams about the future. This story is about the family responsibility,  taking responsibility for those “whom we have tamed”.  And on the difficult choice that could put lives. The story about the fact that our world is not black and white, but there are people and mice. 

    The characters came to the story homeless and exhausted. They initially have the dramatic fate. A tragic outcome, which will wait in the final, in actual fact, was already predestined. The reader sees that with the naked eye. The harbinger of this is a dead mouse, which Lenny keeps in his pocket. Manslaughter more than once will appear in the story. But will the killing as a deliverance from suffering (the dog Stumpy). And, of course, the apotheosis of the book is George’s act. But it will not just murder. This rescue attempt. The act of self-denial, the recognition that there will be no happiness. At the same time, it is the highest manifestation of love that can take a terrible responsibility.

    Love and Responsibility

    The love and responsibility are here not just empty words. George and Lennie are connected with each other with the purely human love and devotion. It is clear seen from the text that they are not relatives, and George is not obliged to be responsible for the unlucky Lenny. But their love is based on Christian values. And we are talking not about loneliness, which so scares other  barracks inhabitants. The point is in the ability to feel love and pity for the man. That feature makes us different from mice. And the fairy tale about the future in their ranch, which George tells Lennie is a simple lie. Probably we will go against general opinion and say that this book is not about dreams destruction. It is about a high “Love” one person to another. 

    Story’s Discrepancies

    Honestly saying there are bunch of inconsistencies which Steinbeck generously scattered throughout the text:

    • Lenny, big and strong, but, in fact, the perfect child;
    • Lenny’s remarkable strength and love for soft fluffy baby animals;
    • The woman’s presence (Сurley’s wife) and totally masculine world of ranch;
    • Stub, who is so tied to his old dog, but still allows to shoot it.

    A small, but SO strong story.

    Completely another story about little men, which disinterested friendship, wealth and poverty, the racism subject and attitudes toward mentally handicapped people. And, of course, about the dream, the light, and pipe. Everyone has a dream, it warms the soul in a difficult time and forces to live. The amazing book! So many feelings, emotions, thoughts, it is difficult to take a breath. It does not let go for a second, and you gulp page by page. This is the story of wealth and poverty, but first and foremost about the dream ... Unfortunately, which did not come true.

    And what a pity that our present live have nothing in differing with characters’ position. We also humpback from morning till night to feed our families,  dreaming, looking for better places in the life where we would be taken for what we are, without condemnation. We are hoping to find at least someone who can be trusted, but just to talk heart to heart. And the story end just broke at all. How much courage need  the person to decide on that? How deep need to be tied to the man to do so? And, what is the most importantly, how to live with it hereafter? It is unimaginable…

    Do you have a dream? Is something like that, what do you want with all your heart? You think about it constantly, aiming for its execution? Then this book is for you. This book is worth to be read! And always keep dreaming, because there is no reason to live for without hope and something to believe in...The story is about a dream. About its creating and falling to the ground. To learn how to create those dreams, and how they crumble. The fact that even in the most critical situation the person is open to the dreams, and it warms person’s heart. The book opens something new in everybody, something that they even did not know about themselves. And more, the story has absolutely incredible end which no one expects...

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