Easter Revision Challenge!

Happy Easter Holidays!

I hope that today’s presentations and Big Fat Quiz got you all in the mood for some poetry. As promised, here are 15 articles which link (some more tenuously than others) to the poems in the character and voice cluster. Take my revision challenge by reading a poem a day as well as coming back to this post to read a linked non-fiction article:

Simon Armitage: Clown Punk – http://www.theguardian.com/music/2012/jun/01/no-future-punk-youth-rebellion

John Agard: Checking Out Me History – http://www.theguardian.com/education/2015/mar/22/is-londons-ethnic-diversity-driving-its-school-success-story

Andrew Forster: Horse Whisperer – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/11478930/Why-the-long-face-Traditional-stables-make-horses-depressed.html

Carol Ann Duffy: Medusa – http://www.theguardian.com/travel/2011/jun/04/greece-insiders-guide-holidays

Daljit Nagra: Singh Song! – http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2011/sep/05/londons-asian-supermarkets

Jackie Kay: Brendon Gallacher – http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/feb/28/children-imaginary-friends-widespread

Simon Armitage: Give – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-32071349

Dorothy Molloy: Les Grands Seigneurs – http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/mar/11/thomas-asbridge-10-best-knights-in-literature-beowulf-chaucer-lionheart

Percy Bysshe Shelley: Ozymandias – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/maureen-ryan/breaking-bad-ozymandias_b_3931402.html

Robert Browning: My Last Duchess – http://www.victorianweb.org/authors/rb/duchess/pva313.html

Stevie Smith: River God – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-32074953

Dylan Thomas: The Hunchback in the Park – http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/richard-iii-now-hes-richard-the-reinterred–to-starstudded-acclaim-10137104.html

Thomas Hardy: The Ruined Maid – http://www.bbc.co.uk/poetryseason/poets/thomas_hardy.shtml

UA Fanthorpe: Casehistory: Alison (head injury) – http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/boxing/32071575

John Betjeman: On a Portrait of a Deaf Man – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-19000769

Of Mice and Men – Dreams by Amardeep

Another fantastic post by Amardeep. As a reward for his efforts on the blog this week, Amardeep will receive a present in class tomorrow. What will it be? Perhaps a scary rabbit?

Steinbeck’s scathing critique of the American Dream conveys his utter disapproval of its motion. This is expressed via his creation upon the ranch.

The dream signifies what the future should be like for ‘the guys that work on ranches’ but ultimately provides false hope. George retells the dream ‘rhythmically’, which suggests that he has said this before to Lennie, so that it has been printed into his mind like a prayer. Steinbeck’s clever repetition of ‘the guys’ in the dream, shows a sense of companionship, as they all have something in common which links into the 1930s American era as thousands of men shared the same dream. Likewise, the idea of ‘work’ is one that the protagonists must abide by; a universal belief in the American Dream during this period in time was that if you work hard, you can achieve anything. Steinbeck has completely torn this hypothesis apart through his presentation of George and Lennie. This is down to the fact that they were portrayed as very hardworking labourers whose dream is simple yet a reasonable request. They get blind and hooked onto an unforeseen road, that ends up with Lennie dead. Steinbeck’s depiction of an achievable dream differs to the one in reality, but with the morphing of his plot devices, George and Lennie, the microcosmic world slaps readers in the face which decomposes the American dream to ashes.

Likewise, the dream can act as a fantasy to protect the characters’ insecurities. This can be condoned as George has given Lennie something to aim for, ‘red and blue and green habits.’ Simply stating basic colours really does emphasise Lennie’s primary knowledge, but Steinbeck still gives him the pity by allowing George to give him such a false interpretation life in the 30s. Steinbeck’s use of repetition not only supports Lennies incapability, but connotes his excitement and positivity to achieve the false dream. This shows the readership how significant the dream is to Lennie, as just by mentioning it, Lennie blasts out an idea of the future. Additionally, rabbits can symbolise much more than a dream for Lennie, perhaps Steinbeck did this as a plot extender, as they could show the truth behind Lennies past.


Of Mice and Men – Extract Analysis

Part A of the Of Mice and Men question is testing how well you can select and analyse effective language choices used by Steinbeck. This short blog post aims to give you tips to help with a response. The very first thing that you should do is read the question to find out what you are being asked to look for:

How do the details in this passage add to your understanding of George and his relationship with Lennie?

With this in mind, you then read the extract and highlight the significant details. You can look for techniques (adverbs, imagery, dialect…) details in narrative and dialogue, and structure. Just remember to keep the focus of the question in mind.

Considering the question above, here’s the extract with some key details highlighted:

omam extract


After you have read the extract a few times, highlighting and mentally building a response, you may find it useful to create a quick plan. Your plan should focus on the details (language choices) and effects. The plan below is too detailed for the confines of exam time, but does offer an example of how to explore multiple interpretations:

omam extract plan

After you have made a short plan which zooms in on language details, you are ready to write up. You don’t need a lengthy introduction for this part – simply address the question straight away and then get stuck into the details! Here’s an example answer:

This extract is notable because is reveals a disconnect between George and Lennie who have ‘got each other’ but often prove to be intellectually mismatched. In this extract, both characters have different personal agendas as well as shallow conversations.

They are separated at the start by George who ‘almost automatically’ plays a ‘deliberate’ solitaire hand. The recurring theme of loneliness is presented here in the name of the game. It’s ironic that George understands ‘automatically’ that he will not be playing with Lennie, but alone. Through the use of the words ‘deliberate’ alongside ‘automatic’ Steinbeck suggests a monotony in George’s actions which could be symbolic of his own boring life or indeed the depression of other migrant workers at the time. Despite this though, he is still ‘thoughtful’ suggesting that his mind is elsewhere – but certainly not with Lennie.

However, Lennie disrupts George by asking ‘Why is both ends the same?’ regarding a playing card. His basic question alongside Steinbeck’s portrayal of Lennie through his dialect is convincing and effective. The inaccurate grammar could indicate Lennie’s learning difficulties or indeed the general speech patterns of American migrant workers at the time as many speak using ‘broken’ grammar rules. George dismisses the question ‘that’s just the way they make them’ like an impatient parent to a child and moves the question back onto the topic of his choice which reveals George to be the leader of the pair.

George’s line of inquiry leads him onto the topic of Curley’s Wife where he has more to say. To start with, he ‘sighed’ which could suggest that it’s something that concerns or frustrates him. This is proved further when he begins a lengthy rant about the dangers of women, during which he uses misogynistic terms such as ‘jailbait’, ‘whorehouse’ and ‘tart’. Steinbeck uses these terms to affirm derogatory attitudes to women but also foreshadow the trouble with Curley’s Wife. During George’s rant, Lennie ‘followed his words admiringly.’ Steinbeck positions Lennie as a passive audience to George’s speech, the adverb ‘admiringly’ shows how Lennie views George as a hero/father-like figure. Through these interactions, the reader is more aware of the significant differences in social and intellectual status of both characters where Lennie hangs on George’s every word. Although he doesn’t seem to fully understand them as he ‘moved his lips a little to keep up.’

However, by the end of the extract we see that Lennie’s interest is short-lived and he is soon onto his favourite subject. Steinbeck’s description of when Lennie ‘drummed on the table with his fingers’ portrays the image of a fidgety and impatient young child. He is desperate to talk about the farm again and asks George ‘how long’s it gonna be till we get that place and live of the fatta the lan’ – an rabbits?’ This diversion towards the farm is likely to engage both George and Lennie, as it is the dream they both share. Steinbeck’s addition of ‘-an rabbits?’ is a humorous and endearing depiction of Lennie who is almost synonymous with the creatures.

Of Mice and Men – Chapter beginnings and endings: By Kushal

Thank you to Kushal for preparing this comprehensive and thoughtful summary of significant moments and quotations at the start and end of each chapter. A very useful resource!

Chapter 1: Start

  • ‘A few miles south from Soledad’ – first line
  • Soledad means loneliness in Spanish
  • Links to theme of loneliness presented through the character
  • The word ‘south’ could mean everything could go downhill from the start
  • Setting – where the plot starts and ends in the novella
  • Unlucky place
  • Theme of death is linked to the Brush – at the start we are told a mouse is dead and at the end Lennie is shot by George
  • We are told about the context in relation to typical ranch workers
  • George and Lennie’s relationship
  • Gives a hint of whether George’s relationship with Lennie is protective or choice?
  • George is introduced first – presented as father-like figure

Chapter 1: Ending

  • ‘Shut up now’
  • Lennie is obedient
  • Shows George’s authority on Lennie
  • Dream conversation
  • George humours Lennie with different colour usage
  • He makes fun out of what Lennie wants to do
  • The Brush
  • We are told that George has told Lennie to come back to the Brush if he messes up – this foreshadows the thoughts of the reader
  • ‘The red light dimmed on the coals’

–      Darkness – danger?

Chapter 2: Start

  • Description of the bunk house
  • ‘Small squared windows’
  • Shows the closed mindset
  • ‘Long rectangular building’
  • It is never ending
  • Foreshadows with limited space each ranch worker has in the room
  • Theme – Loneliness
  • Ironic – they are together but alone

Chapter 2: Ending

  • ‘You seen a girl’
  • Curley refers to his wife as ‘girl’
  • Disrespectful
  • Links to masculinity
  • Chapter ending
  • Tense ending – foreshadows Curley and his role as a villain

Chapter 3: Start

  • ‘I ain’t so bright either’
  • George confiding in Slim
  • Shows a calm and receptive conversation – Slim presented as a good man and friend who is able to take responsibility and shows confidence in his leadership to the ranch workers – almost portrayed as ‘The Boss’

Chapter 3: Ending

  • ‘Looks to me like…’
  • Slim is in control and is leading the action
  • Links to the start
  • ‘Fist was lost in Lennie’s paws’ – this quote shows animal imagery and shows the power of Lennie’s physical dominance
  • Slim blackmails Curley so Lennie doesn’t get into trouble – shows his power on the ranch and shows he is able to control Curley, who is the Boss’ son

Chapter 4: Start

  • ‘Crooks’
  • Description of his room – shows he does have a say because we are given a description of his room
  • Details
  • The purpose is to give an insight of his room to shows the life of a segregated black man on a ranch in the 1930’s
  • ‘Negro stable buck’ – we are told he looks after the horses and he has a element of skill as he is the only person with this job on the ranch

Chapter 4: Ending

  • Broken dreams
  • The ‘weak ones’ have become defeated
  • Cyclical chapter because it represents the life of black people in the 1930’s
  • Breakdown of the dreams: 1. Curley’s wife and 2. George is upset at Candy and Lennie for revealing dream
  • Curley’s wife
  • She is weak because she has no name and no friends
  • Her husband has gone to the whore house
  • Theme – racism
  • I could get you strung up on a tree so easy it ain’t even funny.
  • ‘Nobody’d listen to you’
  • ‘A coloured man got to have some rights’

Chapter 5: Start

  • Lennie kills a puppy
  • ‘A little dead puppy’
  • George likes soft things – shows how vulnerable and excited he is to soft things as it causes an unlikely result
  • Theme – relationships
  • Lennie predicts what George will say when he finds out he has killed the puppy
  • This shows how well they know each other and it shows the number of occasions this has happened
  • Lennie is in fear of ‘tendin’ the rabbits’
  • Lennie is a quick thinker
  • When Curley’s wife enters he is quick to react and hide the puppy – clever
  • He can sense danger and tells her he wants ‘nothing’ of her

Chapter 5: Ending

  • Themes – power and revenge
  • Curley decides to kill Lennie instead of staying with his wife
  • Curley wants revenge over his hand not his wife
  • Curley makes this out as a mission
  • Whit ‘ain’t got a gun’
  • Carlson’s luger
  • ‘I’m goin’’
  • Theme – relationships
  • George makes extra time for Lennie because he lies to them saying ‘he would’ve gone south’
  • Shows his love to him
  • Readers now know where Lennie will be

Chapter 6: Start

  • ‘He came as silently as a creeping bear moves’
  • Simile – Lennie is still presented as an animal
  • Shows he still remembers the instructions George gave when they both first came to the Brush as migrant workers
  • Lennie can see Aunt Clara
  • We are revealed more to his mind
  • Shows severity of his learning difficulties

Chapter 6: Ending

  • George kills Lennie
  • George should’ve run off with Lennie
  • He couldn’t run off and he had to murder him
  • End of the dream
  • If they would’ve run off, they would’ve run off for the second time in the novella
  • Candy’s dog and Lennie were both shot on the back of the heads
  • Theme – relationships
  • Although George does kill Lennie, he shot him in a way so Lennie would feel no pain
  • He killed him so Curley could not torture him
  • George does lie and say Lennie had Carlson’s gun

Of Mice and Men: Headline Revision

To revise Of Mice and Men, year eleven used headlines cut out from magazines and newspapers as a prompt to consider ideas/themes/characters.


In just under 10 minutes, students were able to recall a wide range of ideas from the text, selected quotations as evidence and worked impressively in pairs. Some students even analysed the language in the headlines. Slideshow of their work:

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