Today I return after having been out for a day, leaving my students in the hands of a substitute to read chapter three of Of Mice and Men. I gave the substitute the option of reading the chapter as a whole group, in small reading groups, or individually, suggesting in my notes that she check the pulse of each class accordingly.
In order to hold my students slightly more accountable for remaining on task while I was gone, I required that they complete a series of questions for chapter three, in addition to completing three entries in their on-going dialectic journal.
We spend the first part of class reviewing the questions from chapter three and sharing dialectic journal entries as a whole group. I anticipate that my students will have much to say about two key events in chapter three, that of Carlson shooting Candy's dog and Lennie crushing Curley's hand.
Additionally, as they share throughout the review, I ask them periodically if the behavior of certain characters reminds them of anyone, either from another text, a film, even from their personal lives, which is a surface we began to scratch in this lesson. This is in preparation for the next part of the lesson, where I will be introducing my students to the concept of archetypes. Characters such as Curley's wife, Curley, and Slim are especially easy to focus on for laying such groundwork, as they are probably the most archetypical in the text.
When we have sufficiently reviewed chapter three, I explain to my students that I am going to provide them with a theory that helps explain why some of the characters and their traits in Of Mice and Men may seem familiar to them.
I instruct them to take out their classroom spiral notebooks, as we will be adding a small set of notes on what are called Archetypes.
As we work our way through the powerpoint, I pause on each slide to elaborate as necessary and to address the questions and/or comments of my students. When we reach the slide that depicts the double icebergs, I challenge my students to interpret the image and explain how it relates to Jung's theory of the collective unconscious.
The slide that lists the relatable contents of the collective unconscious--love-at-first-sight, emotions, deja vu--is always a crowd pleaser, and tends to generate much discussion from my students. In order to help explain the nature of the collective unconscious, I will ask them questions such as "When you were a baby, what did you do when you were hungry, or needed a diaper change?" When they respond with "Cry!", I then ask, "Who taught you how to do that?" This type of questioning really brings the concept into focus for my students, as we then apply it to laughing, feeling afraid, etc. And they absolutely love sharing stories of deja vu!
By this point in the presentation, most students are hooked, so that the final slide, which adds archetypes as additional contents of the collective unconscious, is fairly easy for them to accept (The More You Know . . .).
With their newly acquired information on archetypes, I then send my students back to the text of Of Mice and Men to apply the theory.
I distribute a Character Chart to each student and allow them to work with a table partner on this assignment. Their job is to find examples of something each character listed either says or does, or of how each character is described, then make a solid inference based on that information, and finally do their best to identify an archetypical connection for each character.
The instructions on the handout center on chapter three, but I allow my students to work with all chapters read thus far, if they find a line that works better outside of chapter three. Additionally, I allow them to leave the column for Crooks blank, if they feel that the brief appearance he makes in chapter three does not give them enough to work with, as he will be the central focus of chapter four.
As my students work, I circulate the room, assisting if requested and listening to their archetypical connections. Most students should be able to complete the activity in the time allotted, but will be required to complete it for homework if they are unable to finish.