[In my English class, others and I must create a speaking exam in which we direct an examination of how Lennie develops in Of Mice and Men. So, can any English teachers please tell me how to set up the lesson in sequence. What tasks should we set? and how should we direct the class?]
2 Answers | Add Yours
With this assignment in mind, may I point out what Steinbeck himself wrote of Lennie? As Steinbeck once wrote, "Lennie was not to represent insanity at all but the inarticulate and powerful yearning of all men." This yearning for the fraternity of men and a place in the world that is his own is foiled at every turn for Lennie. So, with this motif in mind, you and your classmates may wish to direct the students toward the spiraling of events in the development of Lennie as symbolic of the condition of the dispossessed itinerant workers of the Great Depression that is Steinbeck's intent.
One major point that you may wish to keep in mind is how the last chapter's ending mirrors the events in the beginning chapter, thus proving that Lennie fails in any achievement of the American Dream that he and George hold. So, what your group, then, can direct is the charting of the events in each chapter, the conflicts in which Lennie is involved that also frustrate his yearnings for peace and ownership, until finally reaching the conclusion which demonstrates the absolute futility of Lennie's hopes and desires as everything in Lennie's life is merely repeated until it spirals out of any control.
For example, in the beginning Lennie desires the dream of owning property with George and living in peace. But, in the following chapters--without his wanting to--Lennie comes into conflict with Curley, then in his desire for love, he pets the newborn puppy too much, killing it just as he has killed mice that he has petted. Lennie repeats the incident at Weed, but with tragic consequences.
By having the students chart the incidents in Of Mice and Men that are relevant to Lennie, they will perceive the frustration and the forces against Lennie in the achievement of his dream. This activity will support Steinbeck's description of Lennie as a character/symbol.
I would go section by section and ask students to write down facts and quotes that are associated with Lennie and which are a part of his characterization.
Lennie is the only character in every section of the book, so this should be fairly straightforward.
You might finish with the question Has Lennie changed over the course of the story? and ask your classmates to defend their answer.
Join to answer this question
Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.Join eNotes