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 ?
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
Thank you for your answers !
Now I only have to combine them ! (: