Of Mice and Men – The Ending

It could be said that Steinbeck has written a tragic novel. He loosely follows, the traditions of Greek tragedy, where all the action takes place within 24hours – here it is stretched to nearly 48. Similarly, all the action occurs in one place, the ranch. Finally, the tragedy should unfold in five parts. Yet here we are at Chapter 6. This invites us to view the first five chapters as the tragedy, but to view the sixth as something else. Each character has now met with tragedy, and like tragic heroes, each have their fatal flaw. However, the fact that Chapter 6 exists, points to a departure from tragedy. 


The chapter opens with a “deep green pool”,  an image of spring, growth and rebirth. Similarly, “the hilltops were rosy in the sun”. It could be suggested that his offers us a setting for hope rather than despair. If death is coming, it is welcomed in, or as “a pleasant shade”. This is the same Eden-like setting the novel began with. Steinbeck introduces a “water snake”, a reminder of the serpent of Eden, which tempted man to understand the knowledge of good and evil.It is swiftly, killed as a heron “plucked it out by the head … while its tail waved frantically.” The “wind sounded” and then “the wind died”, again reminding us of imminent death. But does this, and the frantic end of the snake invite us to see death as natural and not as a tragedy? Does this give the reader a sense of hope – the power of friendship or is it truly a tragedy as the dream is never realised?

Turning up on such a beautiful area to find such a brutal scene, the scene after George has murdered Lennie, Slim is the only man with any regard for the way George may be feeling. He sits next to him and says gently “Never you mind… a guy got to sometimes.” As they wander back to the ranch, George in shock and being led by Slim, Carlson remarks to their departing silhouettes: “Now what the hell ya suppose is eatin’ them two guys?”. In this environment, in which human life is utterly disposable, only Slim recognizes that the loss of such a beautiful and powerful friendship should be mourned.  Carlson and the other workers don’t have the understand, due to their environment, to develop their relationships in the way George and Lennie have so therefore cannot empathise. This is a further example of the loneliness Steinbeck portrays.

Remember to consider the importance of Lennie’s death mirroring Candy’s dog’s death – they are described in a similar way and both occur to end suffering. Yet there are key differences between the two deaths. How can these be linked to loneliness? Steinbeck offers no answer to loneliness with the cyclical structure. The structure of the novella mirrors the fate of the characters – their inability to escape. It could be said that Steinbeck set out to expose and chronicle the circumstances that cause human suffering and one of the main issues being loneliness. To what extent do you agree with this statement?

Year 10 – we will look at Chapter 6 in tomorrow’s lesson. Please ensure you have read the chapter.

Miss O

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Recap on Unit 1 Section B – Of Mice and Men

Year 11 – here are the slides from the Tuesday’s lesson.

Ensure you keep reading all of the texts over the Easter break!

Miss O

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Approaching Of Mice and Men as a societal critique

English Teacher:

A great blog post offering some wonderful interpretations – definitely worth a look!

Miss O

Originally posted on English teaching resources:

I often pursue aspects of a novel with a question such as “why did the author write this text in this way at this time in their life or in the context of the worlds in which they live?” I am concerned that it is often hard for students to approach an essay about the significance of a certain character unless they can see how the character fits into the overall vision of the writer. Instead, they often resort to focusing on the action rather than looking at a wider perspective rooted in the intended function of the character and thus how they are presented by their words and deeds.

In OMAM this can be an issue. I want to take as a starting point the this novella houses a critique of American Society at the time of the Great Depression. If this is accepted, then I want to explore…

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Light and Dark in Of Mice and Men

A great collection of quotes here (taken from the wonderful Wildern English) to show Steinbeck’s use of light and dark in Of Mice and Men.  Consider where the quotes appear and what they could symbolise.

To help develop your understanding take a look at the following video too. Try to link Steinbeck’s use of light/dark to the era of the 1930s to also hit AO4.

Miss O


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Easter Essay Tasks

Please attempt at least 2 of the following questions. I suggest focus on the elements you feel least confident with. Feel free to email work through to me over Easter.

Unit 1 – Exploring Modern Texts

Tuesday 20 May – am

Section A: The Woman in Black – spend 45 minutes on one of the following:

a)      How is Hill’s use of the opening chapter Christmas Eve important to the ghost story genre?


b)      How does Hill present the character of Arthur in the chapter The Sound of the Pony and Trap?

Section B: Of Mice and Men – spend 45 minutes on the following:

Read the following passage and then answer Part (a) and Part (b).

He led the dog out into the darkness.
George followed to the door and shut the door and set the latch gently in itsplace. Candy lay rigidly on his bed staring at the ceiling.
 Slim said loudly, ‘One of my lead mules got a bad hoof. Got to get some tar onit.’ His voice trailed off. It was silent outside. Carlson’s footsteps died away. The silence came into the room. And the silence lasted.

George chuckled, ‘I bet Lennie’s right out there in the barn with his pup. He won’t want to come in here no more now he’s got a pup.’

Slim said, ‘Candy you can have any one of them pups you want.’

Candy did not answer. The silence fell on the room again. It came out of the night and invaded the room. George said, ‘Anybody like to play a little euchre?’

‘I’ll play out a few with you,’ said Whit.

They took places opposite each other at the table under the light, but George did not shuffle the cards. He rippled the edge of the deck nervously, and the little snapping noise drew the eyes of all the men in the room, so that he stopped doing it. The silence fell on the room again.

Part (a) In this passage, how does Steinbeck create tension? Refer closely to the passage in your answer.

and then Part (b)What does Steinbeck show the reader about friendships in Of Mice and Men and whatdoes this tell you about the society in which the novel is set

Unit 2 – Poetry Across Time

Thursday 22 May – pm

Section A: Conflict Poetry – spend 45 minutes on one of the following :

a)      Compare the way individual experiences are presented in Extract from Out of the Blue and one other poem from the Conflict cluster.


b)      How are the effects of conflict on the lives of people presented in Belfast Confetti and one other poem from the Conflict cluster?

 Section B:Unseen Poetry – spend 30 minutes on the following:

The Sea

The sea is a hungry dog.

Giant and grey.

He rolls on the beach all day.

With his clashing teeth and shaggy jaws

Hour upon hour he gnaws

The rumbling, tumbling stones,

And ‘Bones, bones, bones, bones!’

The giant sea-dog moans,

Licking his greasy paws.

And when the night wind roars

And the moon rocks in the stormy cloud,

He bounds to his feet and snuffs and sniffs,

Shaking his wet sides over the cliffs,

And howls and hollos* long and loud.

But on quiet days in May or June,

When even the grasses on the dune

Play no more their reedy tune,

With his head between his paws

He lies on the sandy shores,

So quiet, so quiet, he scarcely snores.

James Reeves

*’hollos’ : cries or calls used to attract attention or call encouragement

What picture of the sea do you think the poet creates in this poem? How does the poet create this picture by the ways he writes about the sea?

Have a good Easter guys!

Miss O


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Your possible exam questions

In today’s lesson we revised the chapters in The Woman in Black. Some of you have a great knowledge of the texts, some of you need to reread the text as soon as possible. You came up with some nice question ideas. I have listed them below.

Take a look, plan a response or even write a response – I will mark anything you hand in. Now is the time to step up!

  • How does Hill present Samuel Daily as the voice of reason?
  • How does Hill use the conspiracy of silence in Chapter 8 ‘Spider’?
  • How does Hill use Arthur to build tension?
  • How effective is Hill’s use of foreshadowing in The Woman in Black?
  • How does Hill present the character of Samuel Daily in Chapter 3 ‘The Journey North’?
  • How does Hill present the idea of fear in Chapter 9 ‘In the Nursery’?
  • How does Hill present the theme of darkness?
  • How does Hill present Eel Marsh House in Chapter 5 ‘Across the Causeway’?
  • How does Hill use the theme of fear in Chapter 4 ‘The Funeral of Mrs Drablow’?
  • How does Hill present isolation in Chapter 9 ‘In the Nursery’?
  • How does Hill present the character of Arthur as a narrator throughout The Woman in Black?
  • How does Hill present the Woman in Black’s feelings throughout the novel?
  • How does Hill present Spider in Chapters 9 and 10?
  • How does Hill use the setting of Eel Marsh House to enforce the ghost story genre?
  • How does Hill use weather to build tension in The Woman in Black?
  • How does Hill use silence in Chapter 1 ‘Christmas Eve’?

Miss O


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Model Introduction for The Woman in Black Essay

Year 11 – I have marked your essays on The Woman in Black and the ghost story genre. Solid effort, many of you listened to feedback and improved your grade. However I am still concerned that your introductions aren’t fully demonstrating your understanding of the genre. You should be able to quickly get an introduction written and simply tweak dependant upon the question – there are a number of key ideas you can always include in your introduction.

I suggest you consider following the ‘inverted pyramid’ approach. The diagram below is generic but demonstrates  the idea of starting broad and then becoming more specific.



So for The Woman in Black:

  • Start broad with your knowledge of the text and the genre (in this case the ghost story genre).
  • Now start to think about the question and how the key words link to the text/genre.
  • Then give specific examples of what you will discuss.

Below is a model introduction using this approach to answer the question - How does Hill use the conventions of the ghost story in the novel? 

In the novel The Woman in Black, Hill uses the conventions of the ghost story genre to create a tense and frightening story.  Although written in 1983, the novel is set at some point in the early 1900s, and could be considered a pastiche of the great ghost writer Charles Dickens’ style. Hill mimics his use of densely detailed text, a framed narrative set at Christmas plus lavish and evocative descriptions, evoking a powerful resemble to A Christmas Carol.  The ghost story, undoubtedly most popular during the Victorian Era, is based on the premise of the supernatural with other key themes including isolation, childhood and silence. It is through the use of the first person narration, foreshadowing, pathetic fallacy and macabre imagery that Hill develops these key themes whilst incorporating key conventions such as the transformation of the central protagonist, the haunted house and the revenge-seeking ghost.

Based on this introduction I would then provide a detailed paragraph on: first person narration, foreshadowing, pathetic fallacy and macabre imagery including some reference to the transformation of Arthur Kipps, Eel Marsh House and Jennet Humfrye.

We will discuss this introduction in today’s lesson.

Miss O


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Revision Sessions

Here are my proposed revision sessions to start after the Easter holidays. The content is yet to be decided and I am happy to focus on areas you are struggling with. You will notice that there is a lunch session and an after school session – these will be the same session so you don’t need to attend both. However I have had to move the lunch session on the second week due to a Bank Holiday. I have also put on two sessions after school before both exams.

Date Time General Focus
Monday 28th April 12.40 -1.20 The Woman in Black
Wednesday 30th April 3.35 – 4.30 The Woman in Black
Wednesday 7th May

(Monday is Bank Holiday)

12.40 – 1.20 Conflict Poetry/Unseen
Wednesday 7th May 3.35 – 4.30 Conflict Poetry/Unseen
Monday 12th May 12.40 – 1.20 Of Mice and Men
Wednesday 14th May 3.35 – 4.30 Of Mice and Men
Monday 19th May 3.35 – 4.30 Unit 1
Wednesday 21st May 3.35 – 4.30 Unit 2

In tomorrow’s lesson you can tell me what you’d like to focus on.

Miss O


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Improving Accuracy

Great site here for any Year 11s resetting their Unit 1 English Language exam and also any Year 10s looking to focus on their accuracy ready for next year’s exam. Take a look here - BBC Skillswise and BBC Skillswise Games.

Screen Shot 2014-04-06 at 10.14.11


Miss O

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Homework due in Monday

Disappointed that 4 people didn’t hand in their homework. You’ll be joining me for an after school detention on Tuesday.

During Thursday’s lesson I set another timed essay. Spend 45 minutes on this question. Due in Monday 7 April – this will give me time to mark and return to you before Thursday.

Compare the attitudes to the conflict of war in ‘Come on, come back’ by Stevie Smith and one other poem from the ‘Conflict’ cluster.

Use the old blog posts plus blue/yellow sheets from Thursday’s lesson.

Miss O

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“To know Curley’s Wife would be to love her…” A response

English Teacher:

Guys, have a look at this great blog post. Don’t any of you dare offer the basic interpretation of Curley’s wife as simply a ‘tart’ – it’s not good enough. Consider why Steinbeck creates and develop the character in the way he does.

Miss O

Originally posted on English teaching resources:

Driven by a feeling that students tend to take Curley’s Wife at facevalue, even when encouraged to think beyond the obvious, I recently set an essay based on this quotation by John Steinbeck. The PowerPoint attached seeks to address the whole quotation as a means of engaging consideration of a wider perspective on Steinbeck’s (and my) favourite character in the novella Of Mice and Men.

I hope to have time to deliver this PPt as a short revision lecture and will post a sound file if I get that chance.

Getting to know Curley’s wife

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