Of Mice and Men Questions and Answers
by John Steinbeck

Of Mice and Men book cover
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Discuss the origin of the novella.

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As the Introduction in eNotes says:

Steinbeck conceived Of Mice and Men as a potential play. Each chapter is arranged as a scene, and each scene is confined to a single space: a secluded grove, a bunkhouse, and a barn.

The book was published in 1937 and, according to the eNotes Introduction (see reference link below) it was a surprising success, considering that it deals with a grim and depressing subject. Steinbeck worked on an adaptation for the stage with two prominent playwrights, and the play, which opened in 1937, was also a surprising success. It was the success of the book and the play which probably resulted in Of Mice and Men being made into a major Hollywood motion picture in 1939.

Steinbeck was an extreme liberal in those days and probably more concerned about exposing the plight of the working poor than about his personal success. His book was intended to show the hard lives of agricultural workers. This subject was only appealing to the public because the 1930s were the Great Depression era, and many people in America were concerned about the same problems that concerned Steinbeck. Many wanted positive federal government action to improve social conditions. Steinbeck probably wanted a story that could be turned into a play because there was strong political activism in the legitimateheatre at that time, and the power for change resided on the East Coast rather than in remote, sparsely populated California and the even more sparsely populated American West of the time.

Of Mice and Men can best be analyzed by understanding that it was designed to be transformed into a stage play and performed in New York.

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