Themes in `Of Mice and Men` -The American Dream -

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Dreams and Of Mice and Men
Do Now: Brainstorm!
Think about your own dreams and how you’re
going to achieve them!
Themes in Of Mice and Men
-The American Dream The American Dream: Everyone has a
dream to strive for. The poor ranch
hands wish to be their own bosses
(independence), and actually have
stability (a home) in their lives.
What is the American Dream
The term was first used by James Truslow Adams in 1931.
He states:
"The American Dream is that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and
fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is not
a dream of motor cars and high wages, but a dream of social order in which each man and
each woman shall be able to achieve the fullest stature of which they are capable of, and
be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the circumstances of birth or
position."
Think about the following:
Is the American dream possible in the historical context of
the novel?
Historical Context to Consider
The Dust Bowl
The Great Depression
Migrant farmers
Extreme poverty
Lack of connection with
fellow human beings
Lack of understanding
(empathy) of the disabled
Dehumanization (how the
workers are made to feel
less human)
Dream #1: The Farm Dream
George and Lennie
"'Well,' said George, 'we'll have a
big vegetable patch and a rabbit
hutch and chickens. And when it
rains in the winter, we'll just say
the hell with goin' to work, and
we'll build up a fire in the stove
and set around it an' listen to the
rain comin' down on the roof...'"
Interpreting George and Lennie’s
Dream
Their perfect world is one of
independence. Workers like Lennie and
George have no family, no home, and
very little control over their lives. They
have to do what the boss tells them and
they have little to show for it. They only
own what they can carry. Therefore, this
idea of having such power over their
lives is a strong motivation.
Loneliness and George and Lennie’s
Dream
George and Lennie have a dream, even before they arrive at their
new job on the ranch, to make enough money to live "off the fat
of the land" and be their own bosses. Lennie will be permitted,
then, to tend the rabbits.
Candy, upon hearing about the dream, wants to join them so that
he won’t not be left alone.
Crooks, the African American outcast, wants to join them so that
he wouldn't be alone.
Dream #2: Leaving a Permanent
Mark on the World
When Whit (one of the ranch hands) brings in the magazine with
the letter written by Bill Tenner, a man who used to work on the
ranch, the men are all very impressed.
◦ They are not certain that Bill wrote the letter, but Whit is convinced he did,
and tries to convince the others.
Because the ranch hands live a lifestyle where they travel all the
time and have no real home, it is rare for them to leave any kind
of permanent mark on the world.
In this letter Bill Tenner has achieved some of the immortality
(living forever, being remembered) that the other men cannot
imagine for themselves.
Dream #3: Returning to a Time of
Childhood Innocence
Childhood symbolizes:
◦ Innocence
◦ Freedom
◦ Play
◦ Simplicity
◦ Imagination
◦ A better world/time
◦ Unlimited possibility
Dream #3: Returning to a Time of
Childhood Innocence
When George talks about their farm, he twice describes it in
terms of things he loved in childhood: "I could build a smoke
house like the one gran'pa had..." Chapter 3, pg. 57.
George yearns for his future to reflect the beauty of his
childhood. "An' we'd keep a few pigeons to go flyin' around the
win'mill like they done when I was a kid."
Dream #3: Returning to a Time
of Childhood Innocence
The ideal world presented by Crooks also reflects
childhood. His father had a chicken ranch full of
white chickens, a berry patch, and alfalfa. He and
his brothers would sit and watch the chickens.
In this world, he had friends and family, and was not
alone. He was also not disabled.
Dream #4
Curley’s Wife
Curley's wife has a dream that although
different in detail from the other's dreams,
is still very similar in its general desires.
She wants companionship so much that
she will try to talk to people who don't
want to talk to her, like all the men on the
ranch.
Unsatisfied by her surly husband, she
constantly lurks around the barn, trying to
engage the workers in conversation.
Curley’s Wife’s Dream Part II
The second part of her dream is similar to the men's
desire for their own land.
She wanted to be an actress in Hollywood. She
imagines how great it would be to stay in nice hotels,
own lots of beautiful clothes, and have people want to
take her photograph.
Both attention and financial security would have been
hers.
Like the men she desires friendship, and also material
comforts, though the specifics of her dream differ from
theirs.
The Death of the Dream
When George tells Lennie to look across the river
and imagine their farm, he lets Lennie die with the
hope that they will attain their dream, and attain it
soon.
George, who must kill Lennie, is not allowed such
comfort. He must go on living knowing the failure
of their dream, as well as deal with the guilt of
having killed his best friend.
The Death of the Dream
Steinbeck used George and
Lennie’s dream as a symbol of
the American Dream
So, because George and
Lennie’s dream dies with
Lennie, Steinbeck is saying that
the American Dream is dead.
Dreams Review
Dreams are one of the ways in which the characters combat the loneliness and
hopelessness of their existence.
The most obvious example is the dream farm, a dream shared at first only by
George and Lennie, but which later spreads to include Candy and Crooks.
Crooks reveals that it is the favourite dream of the ranch hands:
'Seems like ever' guy got land in his head.'
It is a powerful dream, however, and even the cynical Crooks falls under its spell
for a short time.
To Lennie, the dream is an antidote to disappointment and loneliness, and he
often asks George to recite the description of the farm to him.
Curley's wife is another who has dreams, her fantasies of a part in the movies
and a life of luxury. Part of her dissatisfaction with her life is that it can never
measure up to her dreams.
Significantly, none of the characters ever achieve their dreams.
Writing A Dream Paper
Brainstorming Ideas
1.
The first thing you need to decide is who you want to write about:
◦ George
◦ Lennie
◦ Curley’s Wife
2.
Next, you need to decide what that person’s dream was!
1.
Did this person achieve his/her dream? Why or why not?
General
1st: Topic Sentence/Hook
A general discussion of the paper’s
topic-this could be anywhere from 1-3
sentences, but don’t ramble
2nd: TAG
Explain how the text, using the TAG,
relates to the topic-this could be
anywhere from 1-3 sentences
As we move from
top to bottom,
information goes
from general to
specific
Specific
3rd: Thesis
Remember to
transition between
sentences
throughout your
paper (and your
introduction)
Writing a Good Introduction
Topic Sentence/HOOK
Remember, the topic of ALL of our papers is DREAMS
Creating that Topic Sentence or HOOK
◦ Let’s look at the HOOK handout…which hooks would be appropriate for this
type of essay?
Writing a Good Introduction
TAG Statement
TAG means
•Title
•Author
•Genre
You want your TAG to link to your topic!
Example: In Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck, Steinbeck discusses
the power of dreams.
Writing a Good Introduction
Thesis
What is a Thesis Statement?
◦ A thesis statement is a claim or a central argument that
you prove throughout your paper
◦ A thesis statement provides your reader with a guide to
your paper (or, what you will prove)
◦ A thesis statement is strong when:
◦ it takes a stand
◦ expresses one main idea
◦ is specific
◦ A thesis is strongest when it begins with the words While
or Because or Although (setting up an argument)
Writing a Good Introduction
Thesis
Some sample thesis statements-how could you
change these to make your own thesis statement?
Remember, you need to believe in your thesis!
◦ Lennie example: Because Lennie dies still believing in the dream, he
achieves his dream through the freedom of death.
◦ George example: While George does believe in the dream, because
the dream relies on companionship, his dream ends when he is
forced to kill Lennie.
◦ Curley’s Wife example: Although Curley’s wife’s death should be the
end of her dream, her dream truly ended when she married Curley .
A Good, Basic Paragraph
For a Thematic Essay
1-2: Topic Sentence
◦ What you will prove in the paragraph
1-2: Example from the text
◦ Should be specific and detailed
◦ Avoid Plot Summary!
1-2: Quote from the text
◦ Should illuminate the example
◦ Should prove (through text) how the example is accurate
2-3: ANALYSIS
◦ Proves how the information provided relates back to and proves the thesis
◦ Avoid Plot Summary!
A Good, Basic Paragraph
For a Thematic Essay
1-2: Topic Sentence
◦ What you will prove in the paragraph
This does not mean that you write, I will prove that George’s
dream dies as a result of Lennie’s death.
• Never say “I” in an essay
• Never say “I will prove” or “I will show” or “I think
that”…just write the part that comes after that statement.
• George’s dream dies as a result of Lennie’s death is an
excellent topic sentence!
A Good, Basic Paragraph
For a Thematic Essay
1-2: Example from the text
◦ Should be specific and detailed
◦ Avoid Plot Summary!
This does not mean that you rewrite the whole book. Basically, you
are giving a quick example in order to set up your quote.
• Using our example: George’s dream dies as a result of Lennie’s
death.
• Example: George and Lenne’s dream was about companionship.
When George is forced to kill Lennie so that Curley does not kill
Lennie in a painful way, George’s dream dies.
A Good, Basic Paragraph
For a Thematic Essay
1-2: Quote from the text
◦ Should illuminate the example
◦ Should prove (through text) how the example is accurate
• Using our example: George’s dream dies as a result of Lennie’s
death.
• George and Lenne’s dream was about companionship. When
George is forced to kill Lennie so that Curley does not kill Lennie
in a painful way, George’s dream dies.
• Example: George says, “With us it ain’t like that. We got a
future. We got somebody to talk to that gives a damn about
us…If them other guys gets in jail they can rot for all anybody
gives a damn. But not us” (Steinbeck 14).
Evidence and MLA
Evidence in the form of a quote (or citation) needs to be properly MLA cited.
That means you need to use punctuation, quote marks and a parenthetical
citation which provides the author’s name and the page number of the
evidence. It sounds confusing, but it’s actually very easy!
1.
The page of the citation is always at the end of the
sentence, followed by a period.
2.
The punctuation only goes after the citation-it does NOT go
inside of the quote.
◦
Good example: “A few miles south of Soledad, the Salinas River
drops in close to the hillside” (Steinbeck 1).
3.
The only punctuation which goes inside of the quotation is
a question mark or an exclamation point
4.
Confused? Seek outside help!
Owl at Purdue University
Evidence and MLA
◦ Good example: “A few miles south of
Soledad, the Salinas River drops in close
to the hillside” (Steinbeck 1).
Start the
evidence
with an open
quote
After the closed quote, hit space, open
parentheses, author’s last name
(capitalized), no comma, the page number,
closed parentheses, then period.
Period at
the end of
the
sentence.
End the evidence
with a closed quote
There should be
NO punctuation
here! No period, no
comma, NOTHING!
Summary
v.
Summary restates facts or
events without deviating
from the original source
◦ Summary can include
inferences made about plot
◦ Summary is not analytical
because it communicates a
general, uniform understanding
Analysis
Analysis is the detailed
explanation of relationships
and processes
◦ This can be called interpretation of
technique
◦ The explanation is focused and
specific
◦ Addresses not only what
something means or represents,
but also how the author
communicated an effect,
understanding, or observation
Summary v. Analysis
First: In three sentences,
summarize the Cinderella fairy
tale
Now, in three sentences, analyze
and interpret an aspect of
the Cinderella fairy tale
Summary example
◦ Cinderella has two stepsisters and one stepmother, all of whom forbid her from living in
the upper-class lifestyle that they enjoy. When the prince holds a ball in order to find
his future bride, Cinderella can only attend with the help of her fairy godmother, but
she must leave the ball at midnight without even telling her name to her new love, the
prince. However, the prince finds and weds Cinderella because the glass slipper that
she left at the ball fits her foot.
Your analysis does not need to be this detailed! It’s a student example
from a few years ago.
Analysis Example:
◦ Cinderella’s plight stems from the competition among women:
the principal theme of the story is marriage, and the principal
conflicts are those among women who wish to use marriage to
gain money and social standing. While Cinderella is an
innocent girl who does nothing wrong, her stepmother and
stepsisters are punished because they torture Cinderella and
claim that they are more eligible for the ball, which is
essentially the marriage market. Therefore, Cinderella is
rewarded because she refuses to compete with the other
women: she is moral while they are not.
Try these simple analysis tips!
A-level analysis:
◦ The writer thinks critically/digs deeper into the
meaning of the passage and connects that
meaning to the thesis
The writer asks himself:
◦
◦
◦
◦
What is the author’s purpose?
Why is this example important?
What is the author really trying to say?
So?
…And then the writer answers these
questions…
A Good, Basic Paragraph
For a Thematic Essay
2-3: ANALYSIS
◦ Proves how the information provided relates back to and proves the thesis (thesis:
While George does believe in the dream, because the dream relies on
companionship, his dream ends when he is forced to kill Lennie.)
◦ Avoid Plot Summary!
• Using our example: George’s dream dies as a result of Lennie’s death. George
and Lennie’s dream was about companionship. When George is forced to kill
Lennie so that Curley does not kill Lennie in a painful way, George’s dream dies.
George says, “With us it ain’t like that. We got a future. We got somebody to
talk to that gives a damn about us…If them other guys gets in jail they can rot
for all anybody gives a damn. But not us” (Steinbeck 14).
• Example: The dream farm represents many things. It represents independence
and freedom from an oppressive boss, a return to childhood and the American
Dream. But, the most important part of the dream is that it is about
companionship. Because Steinbeck forces George to kill Lennie, Steinbeck
believes that that, in this period, the American Dream is impossible to achieve.
Phrases To Avoid
When analyzing your text, avoid the following phrases:
◦
◦
◦
◦
◦
This quote means
This quote shows
This quote is important
Another example
As you can see
Also avoid saying “In
Conclusion” in your
conclusion…I know it’s
your conclusion!
Whatever would come after that phrase, keep! But delete
the phrase!
Proof-read!
Some proof-reading tricks of the trade:
◦ Take some time off between drafting and proofreading. Your eyes know what should be there,
rather than what is there.
◦ Read the draft aloud, either to yourself or to a
group of people.
◦ What sounds funny?
◦ Is there any place where you trip over your own words?
◦ Make corrections! Nothing is ever perfect!
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