Writing an Of Mice and Men Essay

Table of contents

Short Synopsis of the Plot

The Great Depression. The time of huge unemployment, the Dust Bowl in the Southwest, and a time when everyone looked for work anywhere they could find it. In California, two migrant workers, George Milton and Lennie Small are walking to a ranch where there is work. They have moved all about California, just having escaped from one farm, where Lennie was accused of rape, though he did not do it. Lennie is mentally handicapped and has no understanding of how the world works. He is simply longing for softness – from animals or people. As for George? He would just like to save up enough money to buy a small plot of land to farm – his American Dream.

Once they arrive at the new farm, things do not go well for Lennie. He has been given a new puppy but kills it by bouncing it too hard. The wife of the boss’s son pities him and lets her touch her soft hair. Lenny does this roughly, and, when she begins to scream, he tries to cover her mouth, snapping her neck in the process. He runs. Obviously, all the men begin searching for Lenny. George and Lennie have a meet-up place, so George goes there. Knowing that it is only a matter of time before they are found and that Lennie will probably die a horrible death, George shoots him.

Sample Of Mice and Men Essay

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Themes and Possible Of Mice and Men Essay Topics

There are three major themes, and instructors often use these as they develop of Mice and Men essay questions for their students.

  1. Dreams: Everyone in the novel has dreams. George and Lenny want a small farm, and two other characters want to join them. Curly’s wife wants to be a movie star. These are part of a larger dream concept, the American Dream – the notion that anyone can be anything they want to be if they work hard toward achieving it. Unfortunately, the American Dream is far from possible during the Depression.
  2. Loneliness: Most everyone in the novel is lonely, looking for the companionship of some sort. The ranch hands have only each other, but no long-lasting relationships. Curly’s wife is lonely – the only woman on the farm – and seeks adoration from the other men on the farm. The ranch hands seek out at least temporary fixes for their loneliness via a whore house in town; Crooks is the only black man on the ranch, a fact that isolates him as well.
  3. Companionship: The only real companionship in this novelette is that between George and Lenny, and even it is a strange one. Throughout the story, others and the reader wonder how this friendship could be. George is obviously the mentally alert one, having a companion, Lennie, who is obviously mentally challenged. But George obviously feels some obligation, and perhaps some need, to take care of Lennie and keep him out of trouble. In the end, his sense of “taking care” of Lennie, is to kill him, in order to prevent a far worse death at the hands of the Curly and the ranch hands.

These three themes are the “meat” of any number of Of Mice and Men essay prompts that you may receive as an assignment, or that you might choose yourself if you have that option.

Best Of Mice and Men essay topics:

  1. How is the American Dream portrayed in the novel? Who holds to the American Dream? 
  2. Is the American Dream alive and well today? Why or why not?
  3. What is the psychological impact of loneliness, as shown in the novel? Who is lonely and why?
  4. How is this novel a depiction of the times of the Great Depression?
  5. Discuss the human need for companionship. Does everyone have this need? Why or why not? Why might the need for companionship be greater during troubled times?
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Writing Your Of Mice and Men Essay

Most essays that you will be assigned or that you choose will relate to the themes of the novel. There are some key things for you to remember as you work on your essay:

  1. You must have a thesis statement in your introduction. What is the point of the essay you are writing? If, for example, you are writing an Of Mice and Men American Dream essay, you might have the thesis statement: “While the American Dream is still a part of American heritage, it is not alive and well.” From this thesis, you will then show how it was far from reality in the world of the novel and still far from reality today.
  2. Once you have your thesis statement, you need to develop an outline of sorts for your body paragraphs that will support that statement. Doing this will ensure that you have all of your points covered in a logical order.
  3. Depending on the topic and thesis you choose, there may be some research involved. For example, if you choose a topic on loneliness, you may need to do a bit of research on what psychologists have to say about this condition. Then you can speak to what steps the characters in the novel did or did not take to address their loneliness.
  4. Your conclusion needs to state that you have “proved” your thesis statement and perhaps provide some personal reflection on the theme you chose.
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