Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Is It the Right Title?

In the story, Of Mice and Men Steinbeck was going to name his story, "Something That Happened." Although that title is perfect for this story, the actual title fits even better. The title, "Of Mice and Men" comes from a poem by Robert Burns titled, "To A Mouse, on Turning Her Up in Her Nest, with the Plough."

If I had not read Robert Burns' poem I would have said the title, "Something That Happened" is more appropriate for this story, but I did read it. While reading it I came to these lines which said,
"But Mouse, you are not alone,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes of mice and men
Go often askew,
And leaves us nothing, but grief and pain,
For promised joy!"
In these few lines is a resemblance to what happened to Lennie and George.

Lennie and George are not alone. They are with every other man in their world who has a plan. Unfortunately, like the poem says, "The best schemes of mice and men go often askew." George and Lennie had a plan, but any plan can go wrong and that is what happened to theirs, which left them with nothing but grief and pain.

So even though the title, "Something That Happened" is perfect for this story, its actual title, "Of Mice and Men" is more appropriate. This title, which comes from Robert Burns' poem, relates mores to what happens in this book. Steinbeck chose a great title for his book and there is not a better one.

Banned Books Awareness Week

I never realized that there were "banned" books until I was in 11th grade. My Lit teacher told us that we were going to read classical books that were not on the banned list but we could read books on the banned list on our own outside of class! I asked after class what were "banned" books because I had no clue! I would have loved to have had access to the Internet at that time because I would have Googled "banned books."
I just heard that there is Banned Books Awareness Week, September 26- October 3. This is what Half Price Books has to say about this week: Speak freely. Write candidly. Read endlessly. Celebrate your First Amendment rights during Banned Books Awareness Week, September 26 - October 3. And remember that Half Price Books buys and sells anything ever printed or recorded, including banned and challenged books. We applaud the courageous authors who open our eyes to controversial topics.

Here is a list of the top 100 banned books as listed by 100bannedbooks .

1. 1984 by George Orwell

2. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885) by Mark Twain

3. Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

4. Age of Reason by Thomas Paine

5. Andersonville (1955) by MacKinlay Kantor

6. Animal Farm by George Orwell

7. 1001 Arabian Nights by Geraldine McCaughrean

8. As I Lay Dying (1932) by William Faulkner

9. The Bastard by John Jakes

10. Beloved by Toni Morrison

11. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

12. Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo A. Anaya

13. Blubber by Judy Blume

14. Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

15. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

16. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

17. Call of the Wild by Jack London

18. Can Such Things Be? by Ambrose Bierce

19. Candide by Voltaire

20. Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

21. Carrie by Stephen King

22. Catch 22 by Joseph Heller

23. Catcher in the Rye (1951) by J. D. Salinger

24. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

25. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier

26. Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau

27. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

28. Color Purple by Alice Walker

29. Confessions by JeanbyJacques Rousseau

30. Christine by Stephen King

31. Cujo by Stephen King

32. Curses, Hexes, and Spells by Daniel Cohen

33. Daddy's Roommate by Michael Willhoite

34. A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Peck

35. Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

36. Death in Venice by Thomas Mann

37. Decameron by Boccaccio

38. Dubliners by James Joyce

39. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

40. Fallen Angels by Walter Myers

41. Fanny Hill by John Cleland

42. Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes

43. Forever by Judy Blume

44. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

45. The Goats by Brock Cole

46. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

47. Grapes of Wrath (1939) by John Steinbeck

48. Grendel by John Champlin Gardner

49. Hamlet by William Shakespeare

50. Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

51. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling

52. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

53. Harry Potter and the Prizoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

54. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

55. Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman

56. House of Spirits by Isabel Allende

57. Howl by Allen Ginsberg

58. How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell

59. I Have to Go by Robert Munsch

60. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

61. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

62. Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy

63. Jump Ship to Freedom by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier

64. King Lear by William Shakespeare

65. Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence

66. The Learning Tree by Gordon Parks

67. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman

68. Lolita (1955) by Vladimir Nabokov

69. Lord of the Flies by William Golding

70. Lysistrata by Aristophanes

71. Macbeth by William Shakespeare

72. Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare

73. Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe

74. Monk by Matthew Lewis

75. Native Son by Richard Wright

76. Nigger of the Narcissus by Joseph Conrad

77. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

78. One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey

79. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

80. Ordinary People by Judith Guest

81. Origin of the Species by Charles Darwin

82. Our Bodies, Ourselves by Boston Women's Health Collective

83. Portnoy's Complaint (1969) by Philip Roth

84. Private Parts by Howard Stern

85. Rights of Man by Thomas Paine

86. Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie

87. Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

88. Separate Peace by John Knowles

89. Silas Marner by George Eliot

90. SlaughterhousebyFive by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

91. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

92. Sons & Lovers by D.H. Lawrence

93. The Story of Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman

94. Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs

95. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

96. Tropic of Capricorn by Henry Miller

97. Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare

98. Ulysses by James Joyce

99. Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

100. Wrinkle in Time byMadeleine L'Engle

I found a great site that goes into why books are banned. Go to Delete Censorship for more information. Some books stay on the list. Others get added or deleted over time.

My opinion is that as a mother there might be books that I do not want my children to read. I do not feel a need to impose that on every child in America. As I looked over this list I see may books my daughters have already read. Some of the books on the list we are reading for High School Literature! This is something we will be discussing as we read and study together.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Animal Farm by George Orwell

Animal Farm was published in 1945 by British author George Orwell. We learned that was a pseudonym for Eric Arthur Blair. This book criticized the Soviet Union so its release date was delayed until the end of WW2. The Soviet Union was one of England's allies.

The book had immediate success and sold out within its first month of publication. Orwell was a popular and experienced columnist and wanted to just publish Animal Farm as a pamphlet.

This novel brought together themes of the time which were politics, truth (that makes me laugh...truth and politics in the same sentence) and class conflict. These issues were a huge concern for Orwell.

Our class will be discussing allegory and fables. His messages from this 1945 publication are still relevant today and we will also be discussing this. We also learned that Animal Farm has never been out of print since its first publication!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Of Mice and Men and John Steinbeck

We are studying Classic Literature this year with the High School girls. We started off with "Of Mice and Men" by John Steinbeck.

John Ernst Steinbeck, Jr., was born on February 27, 1902 and died December 20, 1968. We discussed the importance of knowing when someone was born and when they died. Their work often reflects on the time when they lived. Steinbeck lived through The Great Depression and his work on "Of Mice and Men" as well as other novels clearly show such influence. Steinbeck was born in Salinas, California and grew up in the beautiful, fertile Salinas Valley. It is also important to know where one lived. Steinbeck used his knowledge of this area for he setting in many of his books.

Steinbeck grew up seeing workers and field hands in the valley. He saw their shacks that they called home. These memories, as well as first hand experience of working on farms while in college at Standford, gave Steinbeck the experience to form realistic characters in his books. In, Of Mice and Men, Steinbeck gives life, depth and strong character to Lennie Small, George Milton, Slim, Candy, Crooks, Carlson, Curley and Curley's wife. It took little prompting to get the students to describe the characters. Steinbeck crafted each one with a strong identity and purpose.