I recently re-read John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, which I had not taught in ten years. This was to be the last book we taught to my juniors, and I felt some trepidation, as it is the end of the year, my classroom can get up to 90 degrees at the end of the day, and it is a book I really love.
However, my juniors absolutely loved the book, came in angry after certain chapters, ready to discuss after other chapters, and generally appreciated our conversations about the American Dream, power differentials, and limitations/obstacles to achieving goals. What made teaching this particular book even more fun was the way we had students make meaning from this text. We had a list of 20 items they could choose from, and they chose 4 for the first half of the book and 4 for the second half of the book. Below is a Doge meme a student created:
Of Mice and Men holds a special place in my heart because I borrowed it from my older sister when she was in ninth grade and I was in sixth grade, and after I read it, all I wanted to do was to talk about it and what it meant. I remember bugging my sister to ask her if she thought it was important that Candy’s dog’s death and Lennie’s death seemed similar. This should have been my first sign that I would end up majoring in English and teaching about foreshadowing and parallel scenes. Of Mice and Men was the first piece of literature I wanted to read closely, to re-read, and the analyze and discuss.