Students Identify and Analyze How Steinbeck's Use of Language Evokes a Sense of Time and Place

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SWBAT analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone specifically how the language evokes a sense of time and place by citing evidence and using a T-Chart for analysis of evidence. SWBAT analyze the friendship of George and Lennie by referring to the article of Aristotle’s types of friendships.

Big Idea

As traveling migrant workers in the southwest, what type of friendship did Lennie and George have?


10 minutes

George and Martha "The Diary"

Part of today's lesson will be looking again at the type of friendship that existed between George and Lennie.  Using the short illustrated story in the George and Martha's book engaged my students in a group discussion about the qualities in friendships.  As I did for the previous day's activator, projecting my power point on a screen, students are shown illustrations on slides #2-6 from the picture book “George and Martha One Fine Day” story 2 "The Diary" as I read the text.  On slide #7 students are then asked to answer the question “What qualities of friendship are expressed in this short interaction between George and Martha?"  "Give evidence to support your answers.”  SL.9-10.1

I next facilitate a group discussion about the importance of respecting ones privacy in a friendship and is there a situation that a "friend" should possibly invade another friend's privacy?  I ask this question because George in Of Mice and Men,  at times feels it necessary to invade Lennie's privacy.


Building Knowledge

20 minutes
I begin by explaining that in John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, a main theme is analyzing the difficulty in having a genuine friendship.  I explain that both Lennie and George rely on their friendship to survive and that there are times when George felt he needed to invade Lennie's "privacy" because Lennie depends on his friendship with George to make the correct decisions.  
I then tell students that they will be analyzing the type of friendship these two main characters have but first they will be asked to analyze the impact the author's word choices have on meaning and tone and more specifically how the language evokes a sense of time and place or setting.

Next using slide #8,  I facilitate a discussion on the Friendship graph. I first review the meaning these vocabulary words: complex, soul mate, confidant, and comforter (L.9-10.4).
I then pass out a copy for each student to use with a partner while I ask questions that they will answer from the information found on the graph - RI.9-10.1.  Questions asked include:
  • Someone who you ask for everyday practical help with as well as have fun going out together is called a...Helpmate
  • A friend that you just play sports with is called...Associate
  • Someone who you socialize with,  gives you advice when needed as well as emotional support...Comforter

The purpose of this graph is to increase students understanding and background knowledge when analyzing the types of friendships portrayed in Steinbeck's novella.

I now pass out a T-Chart and explain that it will be used to chart evidence of words that evoke a sense of time and place from the text while reading Chapter 1.


Student Learning Activity

35 minutes

Hook: I start this activity by saying, "I am now going to read a section of Of Mice and Men. I will be thinking about the words that Steinbeck uses to describe this place and what images these words evoke in my mind.  See if you agree with me..."

PASSAGE #1: “A few miles south of Soledad… opening by the green pool” (3-4). After reading I use the think a loud strategy by saying, "Which images stuck out most in my mind?  What types of words does the author use to describe this setting to me?"  I then write the evidence from the text on my T-Chart.  

I then ask "Were you able to see the picture that Steinbeck was painting for you?" I facilitate a short discussion on the words I choice to include and images of setting it evoked in the students' minds.

Next I give students a choice of working in pairs or individually as they read the first pages of the chapter while writing on their T-Charts examples of words and phrases the author uses to evoke images of the setting RL.9-10.4.

After the students have worked in pairs to find examples on pages (3-5) I ask for examples from the class. As a class, we critique the passages and point out many examples of figurative language RL.9-10.4. We next discuss how the novel is much like a play with the setting of the scenes and the dialogue. 

I then ask, "Can anyone find any other examples of literary devices within the passage other than imagery? Such as personification, onomatopoeia, similes, or metaphors?"  I facilitate a short discussion asking for evidence to support their answers.

Students read final pages of the chapter while finding examples of a vivid depiction of the setting on their own.


Wrap Up

10 minutes

Group Share:

I first ask my students to share with a partner one thing they learned about the language in Steinbeck’s novel and how it creates images of a particular time and place.  I then pick 2-3 students to share their responses with the class.

Next I ask,  “What type of friendship did George and Lennie have?”  I first ask them to refer to the Friendship Graph and pick the type of friendship they think George and Lennie have from the information read in chapter 1, and share their answers with a partner.

I then instruct those students to take out their homework assignment and re-read it.  The assignment was to write a response that evaluates which type of friendship according to the Aristotle text, is demonstrated in the excerpt from Of Mice and Men and supported with evidence from the excerpt W.9-10.10.

After giving them a few minutes to read over their homework written response or to think about the question,  I ask them to again share their answers with their partner to make sure students have similar responses, after which I select 2-3 students to share with the class SL.9-10.1.

I assign homework for the following day for those who need to finish reading Chapter 1 and inform them that they will have a quiz on the chapter for tomorrows activator.