Investigating a Character
• I will learn to explore a character’s role in a
I can select key words and give various
suggestions what they highlight about the
Language and Literature: what’s the
• How is Crooks presented in Of Mice and Men?
The language answer
The Literature Answer
The writer highlights that Crooks is black. For
example, ‘pink-palmed’ and ‘negro’, which he
calls Crooks constantly. This is to highlight his
skin colour to the reader so show how
important it was.
As the only black man in the novel, Crooks is
symbolic of his race at this time. Steinbeck
chooses to highlight his colour at several points
in the novel :‘pink-palmed’, ‘negro’, ‘black’ are
frequently-used quotations. Through this,
Steinbeck may be highlighting that colour was
all white people focused on at that time.
Alternatively, he may want to constantly
remind his readers that Crooks is different: he
doesn’t have the same opportunities.
However, by making Crooks so likeable, the
reader may start to question his/her attitudes
towards black people.
He is also presented as...
Re-cap: what would we expect in a
‘black’ character in the 1930s?
Crooks, the Negro stable buck, had his bunk in the harness room; a
little shed that leaned off the wall of the barn. On one side of the
little room there was a square four-paned window, and on the other,
a narrow plank door leading into the barn. Crooks' bunk was a long box
filled with straw, on which his blankets were flung. On the wall by
the window there were pegs on which hung broken harness in process
of being mended; strips of new leather; and under the window itself
a little bench for leather-working tools, curved knives and needles
and balls of linen thread, and a small hand riveter.
‘the’ highlights he is
the only one on the
ranch. This suggests
he is isolated in terms
of his race.
The repetition of
‘little’ highlights the
small scale of Crooks’
room: he is living in
very basic conditions.
Straw is usually
associated with
animals. This
suggests Crooks
is treated
Crooks’ work is
present in his
‘home’. This
suggests he
never stops
Group Investigation
• In your groups, read your section.
• Underline quotations which reveal something
significant about Crooks.
• In the margin, explore what they suggest.
• The pupils in bold below will be the movers.
What do we know about Crooks?
Each member of the class must tell me one
thing, linked to a quotation.
Individual Investigation
L.O. I will learn to independently investigate a character;
using this to write my own piece of literature.
I will be able to explain what Crooks’ words suggest about
I will be able to represent these in an interview.
Challenge: I can link Crooks’ words to his time period,
society and culture.
Extra challenge: I can work out a message Steinbeck is
conveying through his characters.
Experiential Learning
• Sit on the field – alone. Take only your book.
Write down what you WANT to be doing
instead/ how you feel.
Theory: Types of Loneliness
State loneliness: a moment in time.
Trait loneliness: constantly with you.
Theory: Types of Loneliness
1. Isolation: physically lonely
2. Emotional isolation: no-one to share feelings
3. Mental isolation: no-one to relate to/on your
Let’s Read!
• As you read, highlight key words which reveal
significant things about Crooks’ character.
Building on yesterday...
• Today, you will work individually to explore the language.
How does Steinbeck present Crooks?
1) Select a key word or phrase
2) Explore the connotations of specific
words in your phrase
3) Link this to what kind of man Crooks
“Crooks put his dark chin into
his pink palm.” highlights
Crooks’ colour once more so
that the reader is constantly
reminded of his colour: he is
different. The contrast
between ‘dark’ and ‘pink’’
could represent the contrasts
between how society sees
is.him and how he sees himself.
Perhaps by highlighting his
pink palm, Steinbeck wants
to make the reader realise
that he is a soft person.
CHALLENGE: how does this reflect the
time period/society/culture?
EXTRA CHALLANGE: what is Steinbeck wanting to
reveal/teach/highlight through this quotation?
Now apply your knowledge
• In pairs, conduct an interview with Crooks.
• Use the information in the text to formulate
questions relevant to his life and create
Crooks’ answers.
Exhibition Time
Bleeding Quotations Dry
• I will learn to explore language at word level in
• I can comment on the impact of specific words
in my quotations.
What have you learnt?
Create a role-play demonstrating what life was
like for black people in 1930s America.
Use details from the text to create your roleplay.
When I say... You say...
Building on last week...
• Today, you will work individually to explore the
How does Steinbeck present Crooks?
1) Select a key word or phrase
2) Explore the connotations of specific
words in your phrase
3) Link this to what kind of man Crooks is.
“If I say something, why it's just a
nigger sayin' it”
• Level 4 answer: this SHOWS that Crooks
doesn’t have a voice.
• Level 5 answer: this HIGHLIGHTS that society
has not given Crooks a voice and he isn’t
listened to. It suggests he is alone and unable
to make an impact in the world.
Level 6 answer
Conditional word ‘if’ highlights that it’s
unlikely Crooks will say anything: it’s
clear that society’s unwillingness to
listen has prevented him from fully
sharing his thoughts.
The contrast between ‘I’ and ‘nigger’
here is interesting. It is he as an
individual who speaks ‘I’ but it is a
‘nigger’ who is heard. This highlights his
lack of identity: people don’t see
Crooks; they see a black man.
“If I say something,
why it's just a nigger
sayin' it”
Ironically, Crooks does not complete
The word ‘just’ highlights whites’
opinions that ‘niggers’ are a lowly
species. It emphasises their
unimportance: even Crooks calls
himself ‘just’, adapting their viewpoint.
He has no choice but to.
the word ‘saying’. This highlights his
lack of education: he has not been
taught to speak properly and perhaps
indicate that he doesn’t speak
frequently: he is not given the chance.
In your groups, annotate what two of
these quotations show about Crooks
1. A guy needs somebody to be near him." He
2. Don't make no difference who the guy is, long's
he's with you
3. His excitement had increased until he pounded his
knee with this hand
4. I never knew till long later why he didn't like that.
But I know now.
You must find your quotation in the text first.
Peer Assessment
• Are they missing any key words?
• Can they develop what they’ve written?
Individual work: teacher assessed
How does Steinbeck present Crooks?
1) Select a key word or phrase
2) Explore the connotations of specific
words in your phrase
3) Link this to what kind of man Crooks is.
Individual work: teacher assessed
OR: How does Steinbeck present Curley’s Wife in this
Both men glanced up, for the rectangle of sunshine in the
doorway was cut off. A girl was standing there looking in.
She had full, rouged lips and wide-spaced eyes, heavily
made up. Her fingernails were red. Her hair hung in little
rolled clusters, like sausages. She wore a cotton house
dress and red mules, on the insteps of which were little
bouquets of red ostrich feathers. ‘I’m lookin’ for Curley,’
she said. Her voice had a nasal, brittle quality.

Investigating a Character Crooks