Of Mice and Men Essay

Choose one of the following topics:
  • The title of Steinbeck’s book comes from a Robert Burns poem with the line, “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” Do you think Steinbeck believes this is true? Does Steinbeck want to show that all dreams and plans are hopeless? Or that our dreams keep us going when times are hard? What do you think?
  • Many of the characters in this novel seem to be lonely in spite of the fact that there are other people around them. Why? Is that part of the life they are living? What would make this easier? What does Steinbeck think about loneliness?
  • Friendship is one of life’s great joys, but it also causes no end of complication in our lives. What is Steinbeck trying to tell us about friendship in this book?
  • Was Curley’s Wife a bad person? What do we know about her and her dreams? What is Steinbeck telling us with the character of Curley’s Wife?
  • What about Crooks? His life is different from everyone else’s on the ranch. What is Steinbeck’s message through the character of Crooks?

Decide on a topic and develop your opinion about that idea. This is your claim, or thesis.
Write an outline that shows the organization of your essay. This is worth 20 points.
Begin with a clear introduction that starts broadly and ends with your specific thesis.
Choose how to organize your body paragraphs: one character in each paragraph or one type of dream in each paragraph. To prove your point, use textual evidence from the book. You need to include six pieces of textual evidence (quotations) in your essay – two per body paragraph.
Remember that for each piece of evidence you need to include:
- a signal phrase leading to
- the quotation itself in quotation marks
- followed by the page number in parentheses
- finished off with a period!
Finally, write a conclusion that starts with your thesis and broadens to a way that this idea applies to something outside the novel: your life or our world today.
Voila! You’ve written a wonderful essay! I look forward to reading it!
Integrating Quotations
  • An essay must be your writing and your ideas. But using passages from the text can strengthen your argument. They can:
    • prove you’re correct.
    • to give an example of your idea.
    • to show how you came to your conclusion.
    • When writing an essay, don’t use a quotation in the introduction.
    • In the body of the essay, after a topic sentence, use passages from the text to support your position.
    • Your citation (passage quotation) must start with your words. The words from the text must be part of your sentence.
      • Ex.: George gets mad at Lennie, but he often regrets it, as when he sits looking “ashamedly at the flames”(11).
      • Starts with a signal phrase (your words) leading in to words from the book.
      • Words from the text are put in quotation marks.
      • If the passage ends in a question mark or exclamation point, put that inside the quotation marks and a period after the page number.
        • He said, “By golly, you’re right!”(427).
        • If you only want to use the beginning and ending words of a passage, put an ellipsis ( . . . ) where the missing words belong.

  • Essay 50 pts.
  • Rough draft
    • available on peer editing day 10 pts.
  • Outline 20 pts.
  • MLA citations 24 pts.
  • Proper formatting
    • name, date, class, etc. + 6 pts.
Total 110 pts