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Reading Fiction: ‘Of Mice and Men’ 5 (Themes)

In this worksheet, students revise the overall themes of author John Steinbeck's novel Of Mice and Men.

'Reading Fiction: ‘Of Mice and Men’ 5 (Themes)' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 3

Curriculum topic:  Reading

Curriculum subtopic:  Understand Meaning

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

This worksheet will enable you to revise the themes of John Steinbeck's novel Of Mice and Men. It is important that you have recently read or reread the novel before attempting this worksheet!

 

Friendship is an important theme in the novel. Which two characters represent this theme?

Slim and Carlson

Candy and Crooks

George and Lennie

George and Lennie are different to other migrant farmers in that they have each other.

What were the reasons for the loneliness of migrant farmers in 1930s America? Select two answers from the list below.

They had to leave their families behind and go in search of work.

They worked such long hours they never saw anyone.

They had to move from farm to farm looking for work so they couldn't build meaningful relationships.

They were unfriendly.

Steinbeck explores this theme of loneliness through his characters in the novel.

Match each character with the reason for their loneliness. Hover your mouse over the reasons to see them in full.

Column A

Column B

George
His disability means he can't work on with the oth...
Lennie
Has an unhappy marriage, is unsuited to life on a ...
Crooks
His friend's mental disability means that he does ...
Candy
He is often left out of things and doesn't really ...
Curley's wife
His race means he is segregated and treated as a s...
Curley
Has an unhappy marriage and is not part of the ran...

Dreams is an important theme in the novel. Many of the characters see their dreams as a way of escaping their loneliness. 

Match the character with their dream. Hover your mouse over the dreams to see them in full.

 

Column A

Column B

George
to have his own ranch and be his own boss
Lennie
to be seen as an equal
Curley
to be able to retire to his own farm
Curley's wife
to look after lots of different coloured rabbits o...
Crooks
to be a film star
Candy
to be a boxer

Steinbeck explores the themes of dreams because they are connected to the American Dream.

What is the American Dream?

that everyone can achieve personal success if they are prepared to work hard and make sacrifices

the dream of moving to America

that if you hope for something enough it will come true

Steinbeck's novel shows that these dreams do not come true. Like the American Dream they fail.

What was happening at the time of Steinbeck writing this novel that might have contributed to him writing about the failure of the American Dream?

Select as many answers as you think are correct.

The Wall Street Stock Market crash in 1929 led to people losing their life savings.

Economic depression across America created mass unemployment and poverty.

Droughts led to crop failure which meant migrant workers struggled to find work.

Racism was widespread in America.

There was a lack of any kind of welfare state to look after the disabled or elderly.

The title of the novel comes from a famous poem by Robert Burns called To a Mouse. Steinbeck takes the title from the famous line:

"...the best laid schemes o' Mice and Men, Gang aft agley."

 

What does this line mean?

The best laid plans can turn mice into men.

The best laid plans of mice and men will turn you ugly.

The best laid plans of mice and men often go wrong.

Steinbeck also explores the theme of power.

Match the character with the person or thing they have power over. Hover your mouse over the boxes to see their contents in full.

Column A

Column B

Slim
the men in the ranch, because he can have them sac...
Curley
has physical power, but is in many ways powerless
George
Lennie
Lennie
is totally powerless once his dog has gone
Candy
is powerless because of his skin colour but wields...
Crooks
the men in the ranch, because they respect him
Curley's wife
is powerless because she is a woman but exerts her...

The novel ends where it began: in the brush. Why does Steinbeck choose this setting?

It saved having to think up a different setting for the ending.

It shows the futility of the chracaters dreams: none of them go anywhere.

It is an important setting for farm workers of the time.

There is much debate about whether Of Mice and Men is an optimistic novel or a pessimistic one.

 

Decide whether each point below is optimistic or pessimistic. Hover your mouse over the points to see them in full.

Column A

Column B

George and Lennie's friendship
pessimistic
The hope dreams give the characters
pessimistic
The fact that no dreams come true
optimistic
The treatment and provision for the elderly and di...
pessimistic
George's sacrifice to ensure his friend dies quick...
optimistic
The fact that the novel ends as it began and none ...
optimistic
  • Question 1

Friendship is an important theme in the novel. Which two characters represent this theme?

CORRECT ANSWER
George and Lennie
  • Question 2

George and Lennie are different to other migrant farmers in that they have each other.

What were the reasons for the loneliness of migrant farmers in 1930s America? Select two answers from the list below.

CORRECT ANSWER
They had to leave their families behind and go in search of work.
They had to move from farm to farm looking for work so they couldn't build meaningful relationships.
EDDIE SAYS
Migrant or itinerant farmers were lonely because they had to move about looking for work, leaving their families behind and never being in one place long enough to build up meaningful relationships.
  • Question 3

Steinbeck explores this theme of loneliness through his characters in the novel.

Match each character with the reason for their loneliness. Hover your mouse over the reasons to see them in full.

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

George
His friend's mental disability me...
Lennie
He is often left out of things an...
Crooks
His race means he is segregated a...
Candy
His disability means he can't wor...
Curley's wife
Has an unhappy marriage, is unsui...
Curley
Has an unhappy marriage and is no...
  • Question 4

Dreams is an important theme in the novel. Many of the characters see their dreams as a way of escaping their loneliness. 

Match the character with their dream. Hover your mouse over the dreams to see them in full.

 

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

George
to have his own ranch and be his ...
Lennie
to look after lots of different c...
Curley
to be a boxer
Curley's wife
to be a film star
Crooks
to be seen as an equal
Candy
to be able to retire to his own f...
  • Question 5

Steinbeck explores the themes of dreams because they are connected to the American Dream.

What is the American Dream?

CORRECT ANSWER
that everyone can achieve personal success if they are prepared to work hard and make sacrifices
  • Question 6

Steinbeck's novel shows that these dreams do not come true. Like the American Dream they fail.

What was happening at the time of Steinbeck writing this novel that might have contributed to him writing about the failure of the American Dream?

Select as many answers as you think are correct.

CORRECT ANSWER
The Wall Street Stock Market crash in 1929 led to people losing their life savings.
Economic depression across America created mass unemployment and poverty.
Droughts led to crop failure which meant migrant workers struggled to find work.
Racism was widespread in America.
There was a lack of any kind of welfare state to look after the disabled or elderly.
EDDIE SAYS
All five answers are correct!
  • Question 7

The title of the novel comes from a famous poem by Robert Burns called To a Mouse. Steinbeck takes the title from the famous line:

"...the best laid schemes o' Mice and Men, Gang aft agley."

 

What does this line mean?

CORRECT ANSWER
The best laid plans of mice and men often go wrong.
EDDIE SAYS
The best laid plans of mice and men often go wrong. Think about this in relation to the novel.
  • Question 8

Steinbeck also explores the theme of power.

Match the character with the person or thing they have power over. Hover your mouse over the boxes to see their contents in full.

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

Slim
the men in the ranch, because the...
Curley
the men in the ranch, because he ...
George
Lennie
Lennie
has physical power, but is in man...
Candy
is totally powerless once his dog...
Crooks
is powerless because of his skin ...
Curley's wife
is powerless because she is a wom...
EDDIE SAYS
Slim has power over the men in the ranch as they respect him.

Curley has power over the men in the ranch because he can have them sacked.

George has power over Lennie.

Lennie has power to damage things and shatter dreams because of his strength but in other ways is powerless.

Candy is totally powerless once his dog has gone.

Crooks is totally powerless because of his skin colour but enjoys wielding his power over Lennie when the others go to town.

Curley's wife is powerless because she is a woman but exerts her power over Crooks because he is black and therefore below her in the hierarchy.

  • Question 9

The novel ends where it began: in the brush. Why does Steinbeck choose this setting?

CORRECT ANSWER
It shows the futility of the chracaters dreams: none of them go anywhere.
  • Question 10

There is much debate about whether Of Mice and Men is an optimistic novel or a pessimistic one.

 

Decide whether each point below is optimistic or pessimistic. Hover your mouse over the points to see them in full.

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

George and Lennie's friendship
optimistic
The hope dreams give the characte...
optimistic
The fact that no dreams come true
pessimistic
The treatment and provision for t...
pessimistic
George's sacrifice to ensure his ...
optimistic
The fact that the novel ends as i...
pessimistic
---- OR ----

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