"Of Mice and Men" title discussionhey (;On Tuesday I have to give a presentation on the novel 'Of Mice and Men'. My theme is "Steinbeck was going to name his story 'Something That Happened'....

"Of Mice and Men" title discussion

hey (;
On Tuesday I have to give a presentation on the novel 'Of Mice and Men'.

My theme is "Steinbeck was going to name his story 'Something That Happened'. Instead, he named it 'Of Mice and Men'. Which title do you think is more appropriate to the novel as a whole ? Explain your answer."

I don't have any idea why he even called it 'Of Mice and Men' and not the original one.. Could you please help me ?

Asked on by clarii

7 Answers | Add Yours

mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The title of Steinbeck's work is also appropriate to the Naturalistic style of Of Mice and Men.  As in the poem in which Burns bemoans the little mouse's belief that her nest for the winter is a safe haven, but an indifferent universe permits the mowers to run over it and kill her, the two friends, George and Lennie, feel that they have some security in their camaraderie and shared dream, but the cruelty of a world that is indifferent to them interferes.  Thus, the "best laid plans of mice and men" are destroyed.  What a perfect title!

wannam's profile pic

wannam | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted on

I agree with post 2 that Steinbeck changed the name of his novel to offer something more to his readers. Something That Happened doesn't give the reader much information about what to expect from the novel. Of Mice and Men tells the reader what to expect in some regards. Most people are familiar with the quote "the best laid plans of mice and men..." even if they do not necessarily know where it comes from. The title helps the reader grasp what the novel will be about before they read it. This later title helps the reader follow Steinbeck's line of thought much better than his original title.
vangoghfan's profile pic

vangoghfan | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

If you search Google Books for the topic "title of of mice and men," you'll find lots of interesting material from Steinbeck scholars.  One suggests that the title helps emphasize the idea of destiny as a trap; another suggests that the title is relevant to the dual nature of Lennie (part man, part animal); the same person also suggests that it may allude to the question "are you a man or a mouse?"; etc.  The main reference, though, is clearly to the Burns poem.  Remember that sometimes, when Google Books does not give a preview of a book, Amazon does.  Good luck!

litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I think the title he has chosen is famous because it's clever and makes you think.  He also liked to allude to other works.  I do like the other title because of its simplicity.  Since so much of the focus is a simple story in the book, it's appropriate.  It just doesn't have the same ring to it.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Something That Happened would have been an okay title for the novel because it would have hinted that some very important thing would happen that would affect the outcome of the story.  But that is presumably something that would happen in any story.  The title that Steinbeck ended up choosing is much prettier and more catchy.  Something That Happened is a fairly lifeless title without as much air of mystery.

pacorz's profile pic

pacorz | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted on

The title comes from the Robert Burns poem "To a Mouse" , written in 1785:

The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men,
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!

Translation to modern English: The best made plans of mice and men often go astray, and leave us nothing but pain and grief, rather than the joy we thought we would get from them.

I've always loved the title, as it tells a lot about the novel. A reader who is familiar with the Burns poem would know even before they started reading that this story is not going to come out well for some of the characters. Steinbeck's title here is a nice example of foreshadowing, and a demonstration of how important the choice of a title can be.

clarii's profile pic

clarii | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

Thank you for your answers !

Now I only have to combine them !  (:

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