Of Mice and Men - Critical Analysis Essay

Handouts/Links

Download "Critical Analysis Essay" as a Word file (76KB)

Discipline 

Language Arts, History, Research/Analysis Skills

Grade Level 

8-12

Type of Activity 

Small Group, Entire Class, Individual, Cumulative, Critical Analysis, Research

Source

Scarseth, Thomas. "A Teachable Good Book: Of Mice and Men." Censored Books: Critical Viewpoints. Eds. Nicholas J. Karolides, Lee Burress, and John M. Kean. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow, 1993. 388-94.

The article by Dr. Scarseth, in full, is included in the "Additional Information" section below.

Objectives

  • Students will be able to analyze/interpret an article of criticism about Of Mice and Men.
  • Students will provide their own opinions about both the article and Of Mice and Men with supporting quotations from both the article and the novel.
  • Students will learn to judge the validity of a critic’s opinion and agree/disagree with the critic.
  • Students will provide an outline (refer to the sample following the critical article).

Overview

This essay assignment is a major step in developing students’ critical analysis abilities. Dr. Scarseth’s paper, unlike other many other scholars’ works, is very readable and easy to understand. This article, which can be modified per grade level/ability, is a perfect introduction to scholarly papers.

Materials Needed/Preparation

  • Critical review by Professor Scarseth (download)
  • Of Mice and Men text
  • Dictionaries
  • Internet access

Estimated Time

With the students’ preparation (see below), development of an outline, a first draft, and a final version, teachers may use their own discretion, though a two-three week completion period is ideal.

Procedures

  • If students have access to a computer lab, take about two class periods so students (in pairs) can read through Scarseth’s article, access the Internet, mark up the paper, define any words they do not know, and understand any literary or historical allusions with which they might not be familiar.
  • Of course, closely monitor students, answer any questions, and ensure they stay on task.
  • If students do not have access to a computer lab, take about two class periods and have students read aloud through the critical essay, and discuss/define terms/allusions as a class.
  • After a group analysis of the critical review, have students write an outline for the critical examination of Professor Scarseth’s paper.
  • In the outline (and later, first draft) have students explain, point by point (at least three points), what the critic is saying about Of Mice and Men. In the first draft, students should quote the critic to support their analysis.
  • Then students should provide their own analysis. Ask:  Do you agree or disagree with the critic’s points? Point by point, have students provide their own opinions.
  • If students agree with a point, they need to state why and also provide examples/quotes from Of Mice and Men that further support why they agree with the critic.
  • If students disagree with a point, they need to state why and also provide examples/quotes from Of Mice and Men that further support why they disagree with the critic.

Alternative Procedures for the Scarseth Paper

If classes (especially the younger grades) are not yet ready for the requirements of this critical analysis paper, teachers should consider the following for the same paper. Students can:

  • Simply compare/contrast any two opinions of Dr. Scarseth with their own.
  • Take just one point from Scarseth’s essay (for example, how Steinbeck uses simple and direct, yet descriptive, language). Provide specific examples.
  • Agree or disagree with one of Scarseth’s points (for example, that characters are doomed by their weaknesses/limitations). Provide specific examples.
  • Write an evaluative review of Scarseth’s essay (what is good, what is bad, and so on).

Post Activity/Takeaways/Follow-up

  • Takeaways
    • Students should understand how to create “mini” critical reviews of other short works.
    • Teacher’s comments on the outline, draft, and final version.
  • Follow-up
    • Continue to use this exercise for students’ subsequent work.

Assessment

Teacher’s comments on the:

  • Outline
  • Draft
  • Final version

Common Core State Standards Met

  • Reading Standards for Literature 6-12
    • Key Ideas and Details: 1, 2
    • Craft and Structure: 4, 5, 6
    • Integration of Knowledge and Ideas: 9
    • Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity: 10
  • Reading Standards for Informational Text 6-12
    • Key Ideas and Details: 1, 2, 3
    • Craft and Structure: 4, 5, 6
    • Integration of Knowledge and Ideas: 7, 8
    • Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity: 10
  • Writing Standards 6-12
    • Text Types and Purposes: 1, 2, 3
    • Production and Distribution of Writing: 4, 5, 6
    • Research to Build and Present Knowledge: 7, 8, 9
    • Range of Writing: 10
  • Speaking and Listening Standards 6-12
    • Comprehension and Collaboration: 1, 2
  • Language Standards 6-12
    • Conventions of Standard English: 1, 2
    • Knowledge of Language: 3
    • Vocabulary Acquisition and Use: 4, 5, 6
  • Reading Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies 6-12
    • Key Ideas and Details: 1, 2
    • Craft and Structure: 4, 5
    • Integration of Knowledge and Ideas: 8, 9
    • Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity: 10
  • Writing Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects 6-12
    • Text Types and Purposes: 1, 2
    • Production and Distribution of Writing: 4, 5, 6
    • Research to Build and Present Knowledge: 7, 8, 9
    • Range of Writing: 10