Of Mice and Men
English Language
Writing about an extract
First Question
• The first question is worth 16 marks of the 40
marks available for this section of the exam.
• It will be one question about one extract from
the novel.
• You only discuss the extract itself.
You are marked on your understanding of HOW the writer
presents the character/theme/ideas
For example:
If the question asks you to explore how the
writer’s language influences your view of Candy,
then it should be clear in your answer that
Candy is a character created by the writer – not
a real person.
Can you see the difference?...
Candy's face had grown redder and redder, but before she was done
speaking, he had control of himself. He was the master of the situation.
"I might of knew," he said gently. "Maybe you just better go along an' roll your hoop.
We ain't got nothing to say to you at all. We know what we got, and we don't care
whether you know it or not. So maybe you better jus' scatter along now, 'cause Curley
maybe ain't gonna like his wife out in the barn with us 'bindle stiffs.'"
Candy is very angry in this extract and
his face “had grown redder and
redder” but he also manages to calm
down quite quickly because “before
she was done speaking, he had control
of himself.” He seems to have power
in this extract because he was “master
of the situation”, which shows that he
felt in charge; perhaps because he has
the moral high ground.
Steinbeck tells us that “Candy’s face
had grown redder and redder”,
showing that Curley’s wife has
angered him. However, the reader is
also made aware of how controlled
Candy is as a character, as he quickly
“had control of himself” and was
“the master of the situation”.
Steinbeck uses the word “master” to
emphasise the moral high ground
that Candy has over Curley’s wife.
Explore how the writer’s language influences your view of Curley’s wife.
Both men glanced up, for the rectangle of sunshine in the doorway was cut off. A girl was
standing there looking in. She had full, rouged lips and wide-spaced eyes, heavily made
up. Her fingernails were red. Her hair hung in little rolled clusters, like sausages. She wore
a cotton house dress and red mules, on the insteps of which were little bouquets of red
ostrich feathers.
"I'm lookin' for Curley," she said. Her voice had a nasal, brittle quality. George looked away
from her and then back.
"He was in here a minute ago, but he went."
"Oh!" She put her hands behind her back and leaned against the door frame so that her
body was thrown forward. "You're the new fellas that just come, ain't ya?"
Curley’s wife is described as being very conscious about what she looks like. She
wears a lot of make-up, “She had full, rouged lips” and her “fingernails were red”.
She dresses up even though she is on a ranch. The extract shows us how she is
always looking for Curley “I’m looking for Curley” but she is really just lonely. She is
also quite flirty as she “leaned against the door frame so that her body was thrown
forward.”
This answer talks about Curley’s wife as if she is a real person and makes no effort
to discuss the writer’s techniques. Now you re-write it.
Explore how the writer’s language influences your view of Curley’s wife.
Both men glanced up, for the rectangle of sunshine in the doorway was cut off. A girl was
standing there looking in. She had full, rouged lips and wide-spaced eyes, heavily made
up. Her fingernails were red. Her hair hung in little rolled clusters, like sausages. She wore
a cotton house dress and red mules, on the insteps of which were little bouquets of red
ostrich feathers.
"I'm lookin' for Curley," she said. Her voice had a nasal, brittle quality. George looked away
from her and then back.
"He was in here a minute ago, but he went."
"Oh!" She put her hands behind her back and leaned against the door frame so that her
body was thrown forward. "You're the new fellas that just come, ain't ya?"
In this, the reader’s first introduction to Curley’s wife, Steinbeck immediately hints to the
reader that she could be dangerous. He describes how “the rectangle of sunshine in the
door was cut off” as she enters the room, which is an example of how Steinbeck often
uses light and darkness symbolically in the novel. The repetition of “red” in his physical
description of her, also adds to the association of danger but can also suggest that she is a
very passionate or sexual woman. The writer emphasises the flirty nature of Curley’s wife
here, as he describes her voice to have “a nasal, brittle quality” as if she is changing it to
appeal to the men. Also, he tells us that she leans against the doorway, “so that her body
was thrown forward”. This is not only a flirty stance but the word “forward” could also
imply that she is overly friendly with the men.
What could the first question be on?
It obviously depends on the extract, however, it will always
begin:
Explore how the language in the extract influences your view
of…..
This could be followed by:
• George
• X’s dream
• Lennie
• X’s Loneliness
• Candy
• How X is treated
• Slim
• The relationship between X and X
• Curley’s wife
• The power of X
• Crooks
• Curley
• Carlson
Revision of Themes
You have 10 minutes to discuss these questions:
1. Which characters have dreams and what is the
significance of these within the novel?
2. Which characters are lonely and how is this
shown?
3. Which characters experience prejudice and how
is this shown?
4. In what ways is the idea of companionship
explored in the novel?
5. How is the theme of power explored in the
novel?
Test Question
June Exam 2012
Explore how the language in the extract
influences your view of George’s and Lennie’s
hopes and dreams for the future.
• You must include examples of language
features in your answer.
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Of Mice and Men English Language