The beauty of good literature is that it’s still good no matter when you’re reading it, and in John Steinbeck’s case this is particularly true. Considered one of the greatest American novelists, he gave the world a lot of great works, such as “East of Eden”, “The Grapes of Wrath”, “Travels with Charlie” and others but his “Of Mice and Men” should be given a special attention when talking about studying Steinbeck’s literary journey at schools, and rightly so. This article will give many examples of why the school should include “Of Mice and Men” into its must-study list and what benefits it can have for both teachers and students. And let’s start with the most important.
What’s Peculiar About This Text?
Let’s try to tell it without spoiling for those who didn’t get the chance to familiarise themselves with Steinbeck’s artistry yet. The story revolves around 2 friends, Lennie Small and George Milton, who happened to live during the Great Depression period in American’s West Coast. Being ranch workers, they move around California in the search of a job, something that the country lacked during those years, and as they move, they happened to witness a lot of typical human condition, behavior, and social norms of that time.
It also touches the issues of loneliness (could be interpreted from the name of the place they’re traveling, Soledad), pursuing dreams (the motif of American Dream that gets cloudy as the times are unsettled), lost generation issues (mid-war period), and personal struggles (Lennie’s weird love to take care of something soft, so he always screw it). Well, enough of that, let’s move to why all those things should be exposed to the schoolers.
Top Reasons to Study it At School
It’s Being Read Quickly
Despite this work by John Steinbeck is being defined as a novella according to the genre, it’s composed of 6 chapters only, which significantly increases the chances that the students will actually read the full text, preferably in original if they are non-native English speakers.
So, from this perspective, this will fit the altered attention span of the new generation who literally can’t focus on something for a long time. In addition, if they still read it in paper format, it takes a little space on one’s backpack, so the teacher can encourage them to do the reading during their commute or when waiting for another class.
It Touches All the Aspects of American Culture
Of course, reading it at the American schools will be different from reading it in the classes in other countries because the literature is one of the most condensed forms of the means how we can learn about human life from various countries. “Of Mice and Men” is a treasure of what the American people experienced in social and personal life during the 30s.
Just take the relations between Crooks and other heroes of the book. They are represented within the boundaries of black-white interactions, within the frame of segregational policies that were in full force during the time of the novel. From this point of view, there is no essay on Of Mice and Men that can’t skip the part of research on why it was a big issue back then (and you can see through the number of essay examples) and why it still matters now.
The best part? It will help the students to understand American history better, and they can use it as an example of how segregationism was chastised by progressive activists like Steinbeck.
It Gives Room for Imagination and Modern Interpretation
The literature classes are the last ones that might be boring because they are all about exploring the human condition under various circumstances, and this text is perfect for this. For instance, many of the feminist or LGBTQ critics can give their own interpretation of the bromance the main characters have. And why don’t ask students to examine the psychosis Lenny has with his obsession with the fragile, soft textures and creatures, so instead of keeping them, he always breaks or, which is worst, kills. That has the potential for examining the destructive part of human nature rather than a creative one, given some specific conditions.
And what about George’s decision to kill Lenny or his own good after watching so many crimes his friend did unintentionally? Why can’t that be the main problem to discover in the essay whether any human can justify the killing of the other, whether any can play the role of God the Creator?
Doesn’t it have a lot of similarities with capital punishment discussions for the prisoners or those on euthanasia that we have in our society right now? Finally, what is the nature of the relationship between those friends? These are just a few questions the teachers can ask to get the attention and cause curiosity of the students to this particular work.
The Problem of Bullying and Compassion in the Society
As you can probably guess, this is something that, unfortunately, many students can tell you without even reading the novel because these two are as old as humanity itself. Reading Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men” can raise that issue in the class and give it proper attention to prevent the outbreaks of such kind of behavior that, as we can see from the novel, never ends up well.
Plus, the students are more perceptive to read what they can relate to, so this text can be interesting to them from this point at least. Who knows, maybe that can be a vaccination for some people who tend to bull and help those who are bullied to get through it without feeling depressed and abandoned. After all, the school is not about teaching them to think but also – to execute the kindest human qualities one can have.
Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men” is one of those samples of literary texts that speaks directly to human nature, thus giving a lot of opportunities for the young people to learn the prism through which the people used to look during the dark times of the American history. And even taken away all the literary beauty and poetic descriptions the work has, it offers so much more that can be of interest to the young generation the schoolers are: complicated human choices, searching for one’s dreams, falling after one’s weaknesses, relationships with the people who differ from us in many senses, etc. And this is what the novel is rich in.