John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men:An Analysis of Moral Themes and Political Correctness

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John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men

An Analysis of Moral Themes and Political Correctness

Dustin Ronald White


Honors Sophomore English, Period 4

Mrs. King

June , 00

John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men

Take-Home Essay Test Outline


Of Mice and Men is a very controversial book, often on the ‘Banned Books’ list. Analyze the moral theme(s) presented in the book, and argue whether it is justifiably on the list or if everybody should read it.


q Analyze the moral theme(s) presented in the book

o - Themes, with at least 1 example for each theme

q Is its placement on the ‘Banned Books’ list justifiable? NO. Why?

o - Reasons, with at least 1 example for each reason

Moral themes

q Judgment

o Does Lennie deserve the punishment he receives as a consequence of his mental retardation?

q Importance of ‘thought before action’

o By seeing Lennie’s mistakes via his actions toward accidentally killing things

o George knows that Lennie cannot take care of himself; so why does George leave Lennie to himself in the barn (which is out of site of George) while George plays horseshoes.

q Illustrates the importance of looking after those that can’t for themselves

o Those that haven’t learned how to respond to events should not be penalized for their ignorance. It is like punishing a toddler for not sharing; they simply cannot grasp the idea.

Why everyone should read the book

q Demonstrates the of a migratory farmer of the 10’s.

q Explains the significance of companionship.

q This book should not be rejected for foul language unless it is in poor taste and portrayed in a manner other than to set the personality of a specific stereotype or character; and it is not. This book uses foul language to set the personality and the way people spoke as migratory farmers.

q Portrays American lust for Naturalism.

Possibilities of why this book should be banned

q Depicts human nature in its most raw form, which is in effect demeaning of our current beliefs of civil behavior. (But it is necessary to be shown to demonstrate human behavior in this time period and how low people can be and to what depths they will result to for the sake of being superior)


q Pros outweigh the cons.

John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men is a spectacular illustration of the American lust for Naturalistic literature. The bulk story takes place on a farming ranch in southern California. The main characters of the story, George, the hard-working dreamer, and Lennie, the mentally retarded giant of a man that serves as a mainstay for George, form the foundation of the books moral themes and demonstrate the life of migratory farmers of the 10’s. The moral themes of this book are based upon the concepts of judgment and ‘thought before action’, and the importance of looking out for those who cannot do so for themselves. Through its foul language and grueling depiction of human nature, Of Mice and Men is the center of much controversy and in many cases has been placed on the ‘Banned Books’ list which leads to a most demanding question is this placement justifiable or should it be read by everyone?

Through his lack of response to events and troubling likelihood of forgetfulness due to his mental retardation, one begins to wonder if the punishment of Lennie’s incompetence is justifiable. One must put such a question into perspective; if a newborn does not comply with the concept of sharing, is punishment plausible? No, no one of any caliber deserves punishment for something one simply cannot comprehend. Like the newborn, Lennie simply cannot understand that he has the potential to kill. For example, Lennie wishes to see the newborn pups in chapter five and accidentally kills the one he plays with; he does not understand that he has the power to commit such an act. Therefore, Lennie should not be punished; rather he should be suppressed in a way that he cannot cause such things to occur. This goes to exemplify the judgment that comes about in this story, and through it, calls upon one’s self to think twice before penalizing a person�or any organism�for his, her, or its own ignorance.

How many times has one of us resorted to violence to solve a matter before once consulting on the matter? Most people forget what it is that separates beast from man our ability to think and our ability to put our thoughts into reason and that reason into purpose. So why is it that we abandon this truth when we come to terms with something that stresses our emotions? Our animal instincts fuel our violence. Violence is our primary solution to any problem that prevents us from doing what we wish. Through this story, one comes face to face with the concept of ‘thought before action’. One sees this with Lennie numerous times; the time of the dead mouse at the beginning of the story, and the pup near the end. The cause for Lennie’s barrage of death comes not from a desire to do so, but from an absence of thought. He never stops to consider what might happen if the pup or the mouse do not return to their shelter, to their food or water. He does not stop to think about what may construe from the constant and vigorous petting he inflicts upon them. Lennie’s mistakes help one to realize that the lack of using one’s brain before acting can result in very bad things. Another example is in the fifth chapter in which George is outside playing horseshoes with the others, leaving Lennie to the barn with the pups. George has realized many a time that Lennie is not capable of being by himself; he will cause trouble. However, without a second thought, George pays no heed to him, and as a result, Lennie kills a pup of the litter along with Curley’s wife. George fails to keep an eye on Lennie, as he should. Had George thought of where Lennie might be and that Lennie is off by himself somewhere, Curley’s wife and the pup may have lived. He should have thought before allowing Lennie to go off on his own.

Another important aspect of this book is that it illustrates the significance of companionship. Through the bond that George and Lennie had created, the two came ever closer to their dreams than ever before. Lennie gave George a sense of purpose in his live; this purpose gave George the will and the motivation to consider pursuing the American dream. George in return gave Lennie protection and guidance in his actions. Without the profound friendship that they have, both George and Lennie may have survived the cruelties of this earth physically, but not mentally�especially in Lennie’s case�nor emotionally, and that would have ultimately destroyed them even before their work together on the ranch.

People have banned this book for its profound foul language and gruesome portrait of human nature, but they have not taken the time to consider the significance of such use of language. Though foul and obscure in purpose, this use of language accurately depicts the ilk of migratory farmers during the 10’s. These farmers were uneducated, and therefore used foul language to voice their opinion�much like today. Foul language is used through a character by the author to create a personality the author wants the character to posses. Foul language, though nasty and shunned upon, is allowed by the first amendment of the Bill of Rights as a form of the freedom of speech; therefore, one cannot ban a book based on this law. To do so is illegal and an attempt to void the Constitution of the United States. This book should not be banned for the reason that is exemplifies the significance of companionship. Without companionship, we would all become mindless robots without a care in the world for one another; the very image of what we strive to avoid.

To ban a book for its use of foul language is once again another example of why people need to think before they act. Those that banned the great work, Of Mice and Men did not stop to recollect the very aspects the novel teaches judgment, ‘thought before action’, the image the story portrays of the hardships of migratory farmers, nor the significance of companionship. One should blatantly see by no how much an edge the pros of this book have over the cons. To ban this book�Of Mice and Men, a great Naturalist novel of the twentieth century�is immoral, an act of ignorance, and a suppression of what this country stands for.

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