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Loneliness is a fundamental motif in Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. This activity allows students to take a better look at how all the characters (with perhaps the exception of George and Lennie) all suffer from extreme loneliness, each for different reasons, and expresses this loneliness in their own way.
This documents is five pages: One-page graphic organizer; four-page comprehensive Answer Key.
Students are given a graphic organizer with the characters of Candy, Curley, Curley's wife, Crooks, Slim, and Carlson. They are asked to locate and write out short passages that prove each character is lonely. This has them practice their inferential reading skills, as well as finding evidence to back up their claims. This activity should not be done until at least Chapter Four has been read, as it provides much (though not all) of the evidence.
After completing this worksheet, students will be in a much better position to craft a theme statement around Steinbeck's discussion of loneliness. I ask my students afterwards, "Okay, so now what is Steinbeck trying to say about loneliness in the novella? How does it relate to our lives?"
For my summative unit assignment, I assign students an open-book, in-class essay where they have to compare and/or contrast two characters in the novel with respect to loneliness (usually George and one character of their choosing from this graphic organizer). The more work students have put into this assignment (both individual and as class review), the better they do.
A comprehensive Answer Key is provided to allow for much discussion in your class. Page numbers and/or Chapters are referenced for quick access.