On Tuesday you will write a flash draft essay on Tuesday in class, after the vocabulary quiz, about one aspect of author’s craft that you have noticed in Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. So, please make sure you have re-read the ENTIRE novella before you write this blog post. Then write a paragraph or two exploring the ideas and evidence you plan to discuss in your essay. Remember, it is not enough to have noticed a particular craft tmove, you need to develop a theory about why Steinbeck employed that move. What lesson is he teaching? What concept about human nature or the human condition is he highlighting and to what purpose? Keep asking, “So what?” until you’ve come to some kind of realization you can share in your essay.
You may be wondering what I mean by realization, so let me show you what I mean in the next paragraphs.
I’ve shared with the class that I have thought a lot about the concept of hands and how often hands are discussed in this short text. Not only hands, actually, but damaged hands or the lack of hands come into focus as well. Well, so what? Who cares?
A realization that I might discuss in an essay is that our hands are symbolic of our humanity. I believe I mentioned that what is often cited as an aspect of our anatomy that sets humans apart from the animals is our hands’ opposable thumbs (with the exception of apes — but there are no apes in California or in Steinbeck’s novel). So, I would examine what each character uses is hands for and how he uses them. I’d also look carefully at the scenes where Candy describes how he lost his hand and where Lennie destroys Curley’s hand, to see if I can find any further insight. It seems to me that Curley is so nasty that perhaps he is punished by losing part of his humanity? Or perhaps his manliness? Oh! And I have to examine that disgusting part about the vaseline again. Anyway, if hands represent our humanity, does that mean that Curley is inhuman? But he seems pretty realistic to me. There are people like that: mean, nasty, always picking a fight. So maybe it’s not his humanity, but his masculinity, in that sort of macho sense of masculinity?
In all honesty, I’m not sure that I will stay with this realization or theory, but I am going to start with it and keep asking questions like, “But what about…?” “Or could it be…?” until I find a theory I think fits the whole novel best. And I want you to do the same thing! (See the quotation above.)
But don’t forget the vocabulary. I’ve made the quiz and it will be the same format as all the others we’ve had.
Have a lovely three-day weekend with lots of reading and lots of deep thinking.
With all good wishes,