Using Quotes From the Text to Determine a Theme and Steinbeck's Stance on Individuals vs. Community

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SWBAT determine a theme by identifying and analyzing, various images depicting individuals and communities of people, and decide whether or not each image relays a positive image of individuals and communities or a negative image. SWBAT analyze different passages of the text in order to determine whether or not Steinbeck was painting a positive or negative picture of individuals and/or community.

Big Idea

What is Steinbeck's message on individual versus community in his novella?


10 minutes

The main learning objective for this lesson is to analyze the theme Individual versus Community. Before we do this I want to review the author's use of regionalism in Of Mice and Men.  I decided to integrate both of these topics because the individuals or characters of this region are marked by their adherence to the old ways, by dialect, and by particular personality traits central to the region being depicted in the story. Migrant workers were individuals first as community was not emphasized in Steinbeck's novella.

I begin by saying, "We have read several pieces of literature in which the way people talk and the words they use create a strong feeling for that character and where they lived.  We know this as regionalism.  In this novella the way characters talk is also a large part of creating a certain feeling for the times and area of the country they lived in.  Let me again give you a definition for regionalism."  

Using the power point presentation What's with those people? I then display slides # 1-2 and ask students to write the definition in their journals if they do not already have it written.

Next I say, "I love regionalisms, and it’s remarkable that many of them are still around despite the forces of homogenization like television, internet, radio, and movies. I was speaking with a teacher who grew up on Cape Cod.  She said the word "wicked" - this positive adjective is very often coupled with "awesome" and seems to be a regionalism of the western side of Massachusetts only.  I'm originally from NY and what I call milk shakes” are “frappes” in Massachusetts and “cabinets” in Rhode Island."

I ask them to now read the next slides #3-5 as I read them aloud and to think of other examples of local regionalisms as facilitate a short discussion.


Building Knowledge

20 minutes

I now talk more specifically of the regionalism used in Of Mice and Men. Students brainstorm a list of textual details that indicate usage of regionalism in Of Mice and Men.  I ask them to read slides#6-8 and answer the questions slide#6 working with a partner or individually.  As they find an example of regionalism I circulate among them checking for understanding RL.9-10.1



Student Learning Activity

35 minutes

Individuals vs Community

I now introduce the concept of today’s lesson: theme exploration re: individuals vs. community. I hand out a sheet of paper with a grid that has four boxes labeled positive and negative individuals and community.

I then explain that I will show them a series of numbered photographs. For each photograph, they are to decide whether the image relays a positive or a negative message about individuals or community by checking the grid.  I go through slides # 10-16  and ask the class to announce the verdict!  Thumbs up for positive and down for negative.  Students then explain why they made these choices.

Next I distribute a worksheet with quotes and descriptions from the text (p. 2 of grid).  In pairs students decide whether Steinbeck is saying something positive or negative about individuals or communities by writing their answers next to each quote after discussing it with their partner W.9-10.4.  I circulate among them to help clarifying questions and answers.


Wrap Up

10 minutes

Group Share

After analyzing the theme, I want them to decide how the author's message is shaped and refined by the evidence they cite RL.9-10.2.  When they answer all the questions,  I ask my students to decide which one was Steinbeck rooting for: the individual or the community?  Students write their answers on the bottom of the paper and provide evidence to support their answers RL.9-10.1.   I select a few student to share their answers with the class.