N O T E T O T H E T E A C H E R This guide is designed to assist teachers in moving students beyond the surface story of Steinbeck’s novella. The prereadingactivities prepare students for what they will read in the novel. The brief discussion of the techniques of plot, characterdevelopment and theme employed by Steinbeck in his deceptively simple story provides an overview of the story as wellas an understanding of its simplicity and complexity. Teachers are encouraged to guide, help with reading, and yet allowthe students to independently respond to the work. I N T R O D U C T I O N John Steinbeck is one of the greatest storytellers of the twentieth century. His wonderful novellas Of Mice and Men, ThePearl, Cannery Row, and The Red Pony not only introduce readers to a fascinating, realistic cast of characters, make thehills and seacoast of California and Mexico come to life, but also tell intriguing stories of the lives of real people.Steinbeck’s characters are not the rich men and women of California’s boom days, but are the homeless, the migrantworkers, the poor fishermen, and the farmers. However, each of these people has a deceptively simple, but important storyto tell, a story filled with love and pain. The stories tell us not only of the lives of the poor who seek to live off the landand sea, but of the struggles of all people. Of Mice and Men is a simple story, but in many ways the most complex of Steinbeck’s short books. Although the themesare more obvious than in The Pearl, the intentional and unintentional violence in the book and the darkness of the plotand characters make it most appropriate for more mature readers. Its simple, easy-to-read plot but mature theme makesit an excellent choice for older students who experience difficulty reading complex works but are capable of handlingmature material. However, teachers who teach the book to an entire class of students should do the following to avoidpotential censorship issues: 1.Have the book approved by a selection committee or have it cleared by appropriate administrators if such a committeeis not in place. 2.Write a rationale for teaching the book, using some information from this guide, but also citing critical reviews of the work. 3.Invite parents or guardians to read the book, sending home permission slips that must be signed. If there is objectionto individual students reading the book, provide a good alternative, perhaps one of Steinbeck’s other novellas or abook on a similar theme.