Re read section 1 (chapter 1) again. The Riverbank.
Make notes on the scene down by the river. How does Steinbeck make the scene seem beautiful and tranquil? What clues are there that this peacefulness won’t last? Why does George make Lennie memorise the place?
Write down words of description for George and Lennie. How is George’s attitude to Lennie ambivalent? (that means that sometimes he is nice to him out of guilt or sympathy and others he seems to be deliberately mean to him)
What do you learn of their plans? Why do you think they have such grand plans?
Make a chart and write on it a list of contrasts seen in this section e.g.
Section 2 or chapter 2 George and Lennie arrive at the ranch.
Re read the section.
Remember that this story was written for the stage originally.
How does the author make this section tense and seem unwelcoming and threatening? (think here particularly about Curley and his wife, the boss…)
To what extent are things looking up for George and Lennie? (think – puppies, pay, Slim…)
What clues can be seen here about what is going to happen at the end?
Section three or chapter 3 Things begin to go wrong.
Re read the section.
What do we learn here about why George and Lennie had to leave Weed.
Why do you think George tells Slim when he’s never told anyone else? How does Slim treat the two which is different from how they have been treated before?
Add to your chart from the last section with info from this one on the characters.
How does Curley start the fight with Lennie? Why?
How does Candy make George and Lennie believe their dream might finally come true? Are they happy at the thought?
Why is the fight in the same section of the book?
What do you think of Curley and why?
What do you think of Lennie and why?
Section four or chapter 4 Curley’s wife spoils things
Re read the section.
This is where we learn most about Crooks. What do you learn about the way blacks were treated then? What kind of man is her? Why does he let his guard down to Lennie and Candy?
How does Curley’s wife spoil it all?
What do you think about her and why?
Why does Crooks take back his offer of helping on the farm?
The notes tell us this section is all about power. Who has it? Why / why not? Who wants it? Why / why not? Who uses it? Why and how?
What does Steinbeck have to say about this underclass of people? Why do you suppose he wrote the book?
Section five or chapter 5 Death of the Dream
Re read this section.
How does Steinbeck capture the atmosphere in the barn? Think of the descriptions of light and noises…
There is a sense of shock that such a beautiful description ends up with murder. What methods does the author use to shock us?
How does the author get our sympathy for Curley’s wife which contrasts with our dislike of her after her behaviour in the last chapter. What insights do we get into her character?
Add comments to your character chart.
Read the note-maker’s comment at the bottom of page 13 about dying to make dreams come true. Do you think this is only a depressing story or is there anything we can learn from it?
Why does George feel he has to kill Lennie? How does he feel about it? How deliberate is it?
Section six or chapter 6 George kills Lennie.
Re read the section but you will also need to look back at section one again.
Draw a chart and on it make a note of the differences in details from the riverbank scene earlier and now at the end.
Look for light, the snake, the heron, noises, colours George’s attitude to Lennie etc.
Add final details to the character chart in your book
Why does Lennie hear and see Aunt Clara and the rabbit?
Does Lennie deserve to die? What would you have done in George’s place? Is Lennie better off now? How does George feel now?
Imagine you are George and on trial for Lennie’s murder.
Either – write the script of the trial scene, call witnesses etc what questions would be asked? How would George and the other witnesses answer?
Or – design a newspaper front cover for The Salinas Times with a headline like ‘Man shoots best friend over girl’ and tell the story as the reporter would. Include interviews and ‘photos’.