What is the literary relationship between "To a Mouse" and Of Mice and Men?I understand some of the thematic relationships like plans that go awry, the unability to predict the future,...

What is the literary relationship between "To a Mouse" and Of Mice and Men?

I understand some of the thematic relationships like plans that go awry, the unability to predict the future, etc., But I don't understant the relationship between the two pieces from a literary standpoint.

Asked on by lshine10

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linda-allen's profile pic

linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

It is said that Steinbeck took the title of his novel from the next-to-last line of Burns's poem: "'The best-laid plans of mice and men / Go oft awry." George and Lennie dream of owning their own place someday, but just as in the poem, their plans go awry.

There really isn't any other "literary" relationship between the two works (at least not that I can see).

lindsaystall's profile pic

lindsaystall | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

"Regarding the poem "To a Mouse" by Robert Burns, Thomas Carlyle writes that Burns is "brother and playmate to all nature."  That Lennie Small of John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men is a brother of nature becomes apparent to the reader early in the novella as Lennie drags his feet like a bear and "dabbed his big paw in the water" before he drinks.  And that the mouse is terrified by man as he is in Burns's poem is also evident as the mouse that Lennie hides in his pocket has died, probably from fear just as the little "beastie" has "panic" in his "breastie."

Of course, the greatest parallel between the little creature of "To a Mouse" and Lennie Small, who is, indeed, but a small man in the scope of the many disenfranchised itinerant men, is that like the Burns's mouse he falls victim to "Man's dominion."  For, with Lennie's diminished mental capacity, he has only a small place in the fraternity of men.  And, with his misfortune in killing Curley's wife, he is doomed to be destroyed and, with him, so is the "nest" of the dream of a ranch that he and George have--"Thy wee-bit housie, too, in ruin."  Now, the mouse is faced with "bleak December winds ensuin'" just as George, after Lennie's death, is faced with the terrible aloneness and the death of their dream with which he is left. With both the "wee" mouse and with Small, the schemes of Mice and Men do, indeed, go awry."

-mwestwood

 

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