What is the significance of the title and its relationship to the theme of the novel Of Mice and Men?
The theme I am focusing on is dreams vs. reality. Also the origin of the book would be helpful to include in your answer. List any other themes in your answer that might also relate to the book.
The title of Steinbeck's novel is derived from the poem "To a Mouse" by Robert Burns, the Scottish poet who used to be a great deal more popular in America than he is today. The pertinent lines of Burns's poem are
But Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!
Burns had turned up a mouse's nest with his plow and destroyed her home with all the provisions she had laid up for the winter. The theme of Steinbeck's novel has to do with two humble working men planning to own their own little farm and not have to put up with the abuse and exploitation which was the common lot of itinerant farm laborers. Their plans too go awry.
Steinbeck was a left-wing radical when he wrote several of his early novels, including his famous The Grapes of Wrath. He focused on the economic injustice suffered by the working class, especially those who subsisted by agricultural labor, because that was what he was familiar with from having grown up in rural California.