Use this discussion guide to inspire in-depth thinking, and jump-start a conversation about John Steinbeck’s novella Of Mice and Men. There’s plenty here to set your mental wheels in motion.
What is the meaning of the novella’s title? .
It’s often said that the mouse in the Robert Burns poem that gives Of Mice and Men its name, represents the fear and misery a being experiences when contending with forces incomprehensibly larger than themselves. What are the forces George and Lennie are grappling with? And why does realizing this help us understand our fellow man? .
What does Curley’s wife mean when she refers to Lennie, Crooks and Candy as bindle stiffs? And what does that tell us about the life of California farm workers during this period in history? .
In a psychological reading of Steinbeck’s novella, why is the setting significant? What is symbolized by starting Of Mice and Men in a deeply wooded river scene? .
What do the events surrounding Candy’s dog indicate about the life of itinerant laborers in the industry Steinbeck is addressing? And why does Candy come to feel he should have shot his dog himself? .
While it’s true that much of Steinbeck’s fiction is realistic and informed by firsthand events, he transforms those encounters into a thematic or spiritual experience common to humankind. What is a common human experience that Of Mice and Men addresses? .
Why is the story of George and Lennie’s dream farm recited repeatedly? .
Why is Lennie obsessed with keeping rabbits on the farm he and George dream of owning? Their vision also includes a chicken run, a few pigs, and maybe a cow or a goat. What is symbolically significant about rabbits – think Bugs Bunny, the Br’er Rabbit of African American folklore, or Alice in Wonderland’s White Rabbit – and why is that relevant here?