Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck - Gstoun Year 11 ... viewIn Of Mice and Men the characters use different a non-standard dialect. Steinbeck writes in Standard English in his descriptions,

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Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

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Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Setting the scene the clearing by the river

Language, Structure and Form: Setting

To identify, explore and analyse the techniques Steinbeck uses in the novellas opening paragraph in his description of the setting the clearing by the river.

Task

The Salinas River today

( Read the following list of words and then read the extract from the novellas opening paragraph. Working in pairs, copy the adjectives into the extract.

strong

green

golden

warm

crisp

yellow

close

sandy

spread pads

twinkling

lined

evening

night

rocky

split-wedge

green

mottled

fresh

great

deep

recumbent

deep

narrow

white

damp

A few miles south of Soledad, the Salinas River drops in ________ to the hillside bank and runs ________ and ________. The water is ________ too, for it has slipped ________ over the _______ sands before reaching the ________ pool. On one side of the river the ________ foothill slopes curve up to the ________ and ________ Gabilan mountains, but on the valley side the water is ________ with trees willows ________ and ________ with every spring, carrying in their lower leaf junctures the debris of the winters flooding; and sycamores with ________, ________, ________ limbs and branches that arch over the pool. On the ________ bank under the trees the leaves lie ________ and so ________ that a lizard makes a ________ skittering if he runs among them. Rabbits come out of the brush to sit on the sand in the ________, and the ________ flats are covered with the ________ tracks of coons, and with the ________ ________ of dogs from the ranches, and with the ________-________ tracks of deer that come to drink in the dark.

Ranch life and migrant workers

( The bunk house is an important setting in the novella; a number of important and dramatic events take place there.

Steinbecks description of the bunk house gives us many clues about ranch life and the wider issues affecting the lives of the migrant farm workers.

1930s Depression Era migrant farm workers, one carrying his bindle and the other a guitar, find a moment together away from their rootless and often lonely existence on the road.

Setting the scene the bunk house

Language, Structure and Form: Setting

To identify, explore and analyse the techniques Steinbeck uses in his description of the setting the bunk house.

Task

( Read the opening paragraph of chapter two. In it, George and Lennie have arrived at the ranch and go to the bunk house.

( Using the details in the description, draw a plan of the layout in the bunk house - a birds eye view, like a set design. Label your drawing with relevant quotes from the text.

( Life for migrant farm workers was not easy. Some of the problems they faced were linked not just to the difficult work but also to ranch lifestyle.

The bunk house

The description of the decoration in the bunk house highlights the fact that the room is plain and practical.

Furnishings, too, are provided for practical reasons only there are no luxuries. Boxes are used both as shelves and as chairs.

Storage is unsophisticated and limited a reflection of the fact that the men travel lightly and have very few personal possessions.

It is a basic building that meets the basic needs of the men. We get the sense that it is a dark and gloomy room, built cheaply and quickly.

The bunk house is described as a very functional place with one main purpose. It is a place for the men to sleep after long days working in the fields.

The emptiness of the bunk house reflects the emptiness of the mens lives. There are not many things that they can do to entertain themselves in the bunk house.

The mens belongings relate to health and, for some, small items of clothing. This highlights the sadness of the mens plight as they seem, in spite of all of the hardships they suffer, desperate to maintain some form of dignity and wellbeing in hygiene, health and dress.

( Cut out these comments about the bunk house. Find a quote from the text to go with each. Glue the comment next to the quote you have identified.

The dream

( Reread the extract where George first describes the dream in Chapter one.

( In pairs, make a list of aspects of the dream that are in complete contrast to their lives as migrant ranch workers.

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Grabbing the reader

Language, Structure and Form: Novel Openings

To explore the techniques Steinbeck uses in the novellas opening pages and to assess their effectiveness.

( Read the opening of the novella again and then read the following list of

techniques that Steinbeck uses to grab our attention as readers.

Techniques used by Steinbeck

Evidence from the text

Includes description of real places

Describes an interesting, unusual setting

Written in the present tense

Uses vivid, descriptive language

Describes interesting characters that you want to find out more about

Describes the actions of the characters

Describes the personality of the characters

Uses dialogue to portray character

Portrays interesting character relationships

Describes moments of drama and tension

Gives clues about events that have happened before the novels opening

Drops hints about might what happen in the future

Work in pairs to:

number and rank the techniques used by Steinbeck. Place what you consider to be the most effective technique at the top, and the least effective at the bottom; *

explain and make a note of your decisions and reasons in the space below;

*(Hint: you might want to give some techniques equal weighting.)

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Dialect

In Of Mice and Men the characters use different a non-standard dialect.

Accent: the specific way words are pronounced according to geographical region. For example, Geordie.

Dialect: the language variety of a geographical region or social background. Different forms of grammar, lexis, phonology and semantics affect dialect.

Standard English: This is a dialect which has acquired the status of representing the English language. It is the proper or correct way to speak.

In Of Mice and Men the characters use different a non-standard dialect. Steinbeck writes in Standard English in his descriptions, but why does he use non-standard dialects when the characters are speaking? What effect does it have?

( Make note of your thoughts below:

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( Read the dialogue on the first two pages (3-4). See if you can pick out the non-standard features of dialect. Write both the non-standard feature and the standard way to write it. The person with the most features wins! You have 6 minutes.

Common features of the non-standard American Vernacular dialect

Elision - combining the main word wit