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GCSE English Literature Student Guide to John Steinbeck’s ‘Of Mice and Men’

Steve Campsall | Thursday October 17, 2013

Categories: KS4, AQA GCSE, EDEXCEL GCSE, OCR GCSE, WJEC Eduqas GCSE, Hot Entries, Prose, Analysing Prose, Of Mice and Men, Writing, Analytical Writing, Literary Analysis, Prose Analysis, AQA English Literature, Unit 1 Exploring Modern Texts, Edexcel English Literature, Unit 1 Understanding Prose, OCR GCSE English Literature, Unit A663, WJEC GCSE English Literature

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Teacher’s Note

This guide has been written primarily to help keen and bright students find a way to the top grades they’re likely hoping for when studying Steinbeck’s popular novel, ‘Of Mice and Men’. It will, though, hopefully also be of interest to you as it explores some (I hope) interesting ways ‘into’ Steinbeck’s ‘Of Mice and Men’. The central ideas covered and examples given could also be easily adapted (and easily differentiated) to create a series of class lessons and discussions, and thus broaden the guide to be useful to a wide range of students.

There are many ‘guides’ to ‘Of Mice and Men’ available on the internet and elsewhere. I felt it might be useful to provide something different, perhaps more opinionated but still supported by the text, something that wasn’t otherwise available and with more ‘stretch’ in it, but which could still be adapted to all students quite easily.

The exam and coursework top band mark schemes use words like ‘insightful’, ‘perceptive’ and ‘detailed’. I have found that to achieve this level of analysis, and thus for a student to be able to access the top grade band, it can help if they are shown how to consider some of the fundamentals not only of what literary language itself is but also how the language itself operates as a kind ‘communicative act’ or ‘discourse’, that is, as a means or ‘vehicle’ for writers to communicate their views on issues in society spurred by their context. Thinking about how the combination of individual + context = text, might help students to write meaningfully about Steinbeck’s own context and how the novel is evidence of his response to this. Attacking language this way round prevents students from falling into the trap of ‘bolting on’ historical context, for example.

When students can be brought to consider how the need for language itself arises as a means to communicate...


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