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Free Study Guide-Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck-Free Booknotes
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LITERARY/HISTORICAL INFORMATION

Started with a tentative title of Something that Happened, the book, Of Mice and Me, took the form of an extended short story. Steinbeck rejected the initial version of the story, for he felt that he had been unable to keep his own voice and viewpoint out of its narration. Steinbeck reworked and expanded the story, adding more characters. He also added more dialogue, taking particular care to reflect the accent and dialect of uneducated farm workers. It is said that a large section of the book was rewritten by Steinbeck again, for his original manuscript was chewed up by his dog.


The working title of the book, Something that Happened, was changed when his best friend Ed Ricketts suggested the present title and introduced him to Robert Burns’ poem ‘To a Mouse’. The words of the poem are as follows:

The best laid schemes o’mice and men

Gang aft agley. And leave us nought but grief and pain

For promised joy.

The poet talks about man’s enslavement to forces of nature which he cannot control, destroying hopes and dreams. This is what happens with George and Lennie.

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