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.