English Literature: Paper One Overview

Some last minute information about the English Literature exam tomorrow:

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Some information about the assessment objectives:

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Suggested activities to revise:

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Of Mice and Men – Chapter 3 recap by Vanisha

Opening Description

  • “Instantly the table was brilliant with light, and the cone of the shade threw its brightness straight downward, leaving the corners of the bunkhouse still in dark”.

This foreshadows how everyone else (main characters) will always be in the light as they are superior however characters like Lennie will be left in the “corners… still in dark”. The word “dark” could also represent how “bright” or intelligent the characters are again portraying how the “bright” intelligent ones will be in the light and move on while the dumb characters or “weak” characters will be left in the dark in the “corners” neglected like crooks showing there is not much difference in the power between women, the disabled and black people.

Slim and George

  • Background about weed
  • Background about Georges relationship with Lennie.
  • Length of conversation shows the importance of characters and foreshadows their future relationship because he doesn’t hold back on information when he is talking to slim also showing that slims character is trustworthy.
  • Steinbeck intelligently uses Slims relationship with George to inform readers about George and Lennie’s relationship. – “too dumb to take care of ‘imself”
  • “made me seem god damn smart alongside of him” shows is similarity with Curley because of intimidating weaker characters to make themselves look better but George understands his mistakes and regrets his actions- “we ain’t done that no more”. This shows the point that we are all like animals hence the title “Of Mice And Men” because we fight for positions-“survival of the fittest” which is amplified in the society of 1930’s America. Steinbecks novella is a metaphor for human existence.

Lennie and the Puppy

  • Mirrors chapter 1 where he steals the mouse which shows he’s a simpleton as he makes the same mistakes repeatedly.

Candy’s Dog

  • Metaphor by Steinbeck which shows that the weak are useless and should be rid of which is like Benthamism that the strong survive and the weak deserve to die because they didn’t make the effort- cynical. It shows that we live in a cruel world and the American dream is a lie and is a belief founded on privileged people.

Whit and the letter

  • Represents hope which is a recurring theme in chapter 3.
  • Show that the small achievements in life become big and seem significant in a hopeless world like 1930’s America.
  • Western magazine which dreams and hopes are linked with.

Dog Shooting

  • Candy and his Dog are similar to George and Lennie but George actually shoots Lennie himself. It shows that it’s a harsh world to kill animals but do we live in a world so harsh that we do the same to humans?
  • Candy and the dog’s relationship is shown by many quotes like “le’s wait till tommora’”, “find some reversal”, “Candy lay rigidly on his bed staring at the ceiling”, “it came out of the night and invaded the room”.

Attitudes to women

  • “got the eye goin’”
  • “Shes jail-bait”
  • “ain’t no place for a girl”

Curley chasing his wife

  • Keeps chasing throughout the book.
  • He never has power and his wife is one of the only places where he can show and use the little power that he has.
  • Curley and his wife are not seen together until she dies when even then he’s not sad but wants revenge on Lennie
  • A reason why the novel is famous is because it gave weak people a voice so many people could relate to it on a deeper level.

The Dream

  • Finally seems real and possible because of Candy’s financial backing.
  • Only time when George talks about the dream and isn’t annoyed by the end of it.- “his voice growing warmer”
  • “they looked at one another amazed” showing that they never really believed until now.

The fight

  • A lot of animal imagery
  • “flopped like a fish” in “Lennie’s paws”- how bears catch fish with bare hands. Links to his wife which is described in the same way at the end.

After the fight

  • Slim blackmails Curley.
  • Shows slims leadership and how he manipulates the situation intelligently.
  • George’s reassurance to Lennie shows that he’s not mean because when there is a problem he is there for him and backs him up.
  • Derogatory-Lennie’s is weak.

Of Mice and Men – Chapter 2 Recap by Daud

List 3 significant descriptions of the bunkhouse:

  • “whitewashed” (segregation)
  • “small, square windows” (freedom/ American dream)
  • “solid door” (masculinity)

e.g. The ‘solid door’ could represent the men on the ranch’s need to be a hard and ‘solid’ man. Perhaps it also highlights their ideology regarding emotions and how they won’t allow their feelings to show, not opening their metaphorical ‘solid’ door of emotions.

The symbolism of Western Magazines:

“love to read”

“scoff at”

“secretly believe”

The Western Magazine provides the men hope that they will one day walk into the sunset like the ‘western’ characters they read about and become a hero like the cowboys in these magazines. This places the American dream on a pedal stall causing us to empathize for the men on the ranch as we as readers know that it is most probable that they will live the rest of their lives on the ranch.

The purpose of Chapter 2 is to introduce characters!

Curley “a thin young man”

“tightly curled hair

Boss “a fat legged man”

“squinted his eyes”

“pointed a playful finger”

“high heeled boots”

“to prove he was not a labourer”

Candy “the old man”

“gray of muzzles”

“blind old eyes”

Curley’s Wife “rectangle of sunshine in the doorway was cut off”

“rouged lips”

“fingernails were red”

“Her hair hung in little rolled clusters”

Slim “the prince of the ranch”

“His hands… as those of a temple dancer”

“face was ageless”

 Action

  • Whitey (the last worker on the ranch before George and Lennie) left. It depicts how these men are migrant workers and are used to travelling. George’s scepticism about the lice on the bed and how this spans over pages shows its more than just the bed. It acts as a representation of George’s lack of faith in humanity as humanity has treated him so harshly.
  • Important quote: George said ominously, you betta’ watch out for Lennie he’s “strong”, “quick”, and “don’t know no rules”.
  • Candy is the helper on the ranch but also to the readers as his character provides power to the readers as we are informed- through candy- the latest gossip running through the ranch.

Solitaire: Some aspects the game of solitaire represents:

-George is a solitary man

-He is isolating himself due to his mistrust in men.

-He is absorbing everything around him, he is looking busy but is thinking carefully, “thoughtfully” about the new people he had met.

-It acts as a defence mechanism so no one bothers to talk to him.

Summary

Candy’s old dog -> foreshadows the fate of the weak.

Curley’s wife -> trouble to come with her promiscuity.

Curley -> trouble to come with his physical boxing skills.

Crooks -> a sign of racism and segregation to enter the story through the use of the derogatory ‘N’ word used against him in this chapter.

Curley and slim drowning puppies -> this resonates with the story George later tells slim in chapter 3

George reveals that he used to play jokes on Lennie because “he was too dumb even to know he had a joke played on him.” One day when George, Lennie, and other men were loitering around the Sacramento River, George ordered Lennie to jump into the water:

“I turns to Lennie and says, ‘Jump in.’ An’ he jumps. Couldn’t swim a stroke. He damn near drowned before we could get him. An’ he was so damn nice to me for pullin’ him out. Clean forgot I told him to jump in. Well, I ain’t done nothing like that no more.”

Of Mice and Men – Theme and Context quick revision

To get ready for the mocks, we spent a lesson revising the context and themes in Of Mice and Men. We started by considering the context, discussing the key ideas and issues as a class. Here is a brief outline of our notes:

A cruel world: hierarchies (levels of power) with discrimination of so-called ‘weak’ groups.

Several social prejudices: racism (Crooks), sexism (Curley’s Wife), ageism (Candy), and disability discrimination (Lennie).

Modern readers recognise change: but these discriminatory ideas still resonate and exist.

The Great Depression: a severe economic crisis which led to unemployment, homelessness and migrant workers.

The American Dream: a hopeful, motivational ideal that all Americans are born with the right to ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,’ and with hard work they will achieve it. Steinbeck is critical of it and shows the flaws of a dream in a world that is so harsh. All of the dreamers in the book meet tragic and desolate endings.

The American West landscape: Valleys and mountains could represent ups and downs in the plot. The vast open land may represents ideas about freedom and opportunity but also isolation and uncertainty. Animals feature to show the similarities between the animal world and mankind as well as mirroring animal behaviour in characters. Soledad = Spanish for loneliness.

After this initial work, we focused on key themes in the novella. We came up with five (dreams, isolation, power, violence, friendship). The first step was for us to come up with a range of quotations that could be used to demonstrate how the themes are explored in the novella:

After the initial group effort to source a vast range of quotations, we worked in pairs to explore quotations in greater depth and finished by independently writing analytical paragraphs.

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Many thanks to RIKESH for providing these useful documents :

RIKESH Of Mice and Men Literature Exam

RIKESH Themes and Context

Character and Voice Poetry: Aiming for A*

In order to get an A* in the exam, you should be imaginative with your response, ‘salt and pepper’ it with short, embedded quotations and ‘zoom in’ on the details. As I’ve said time and time again, it’s not about showing how much you know about the poems, but rather about how well you can analyse details to support your response to the poems. A* responses are fully engaged with the themes and ideas, making perceptive comments and interpretations. They also focus on the key skill – COMPARING! Here are some things to look for when comparing poems:

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Here is a detailed comparison of My Last Duchess and The River God:

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And another detailed comparison of The Ruined Maid and Singh Song!:

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