What is the connection between John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men and Robert Burns' " To a Mouse?"

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In my mind, the connection to Burns' poem lies with the concept in it and how the book parallels it.  "The title suggests that the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry, a reference to Robert Burns's poem 'To a Mouse." I think that this pretty much brings the connection between both the poem and the story quite evident.  One of the fundamental themes in the novella is how the plans that people have do not materialize, and that there is a futility present in what is conceived in the mind and what can be brought out in the reality.  These "best laid plans" seem to be constructed with conviction and zeal, but in the end, they fail to be realized.  In this, Steinbeck is making a statement about the ability to dream and how social orders fail to honor such visions.  George and Lennie both share a dream of a farm and being in control of their own destiny and tending to rabbits.  This does not work.  Curley held a vision of being a boxer, but this does not seem to materialize.  Curley's wife could have been in pictures and wanted to be "someone," yet this does not come to pass.  In the end, Burns' idea of "the best laid plans" withering in the harsh conditions of external reality ends up defining many of the characters in the novella.

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