Of Mice and Men Essay


For this essay, you have the option of writing either an expository essay or a persuasive essay.  Each type is explained below and options for topics are listed. 


Expository Essay Writing:

An expository essay is an essay that analyzes and explains.  Take an educated stand on a controversial (arguable) topic.  This is the type of essay you wrote last year both for To Kill a Mockingbird and Romeo & Juliet.  Choose one of the prompts below for this type of essay. 


Expository Prompts:

1) Trace the pattern of deaths (who/what dies and how) in Of Mice and Men and come to a conclusion about Steinbeck’s use of those deaths to prepare us for the resolution of the novel.


2) Relate at least one biblical theme to Of Mice and Men, for example the story of Cain and Abel, the Garden, The Loss-Quest (Paradise) Cycle, David and Goliath or the portrayal of women (Curley’s wife) as an archetype for temptation and the fall. What statement is being made through this comparison/allusion?


3) Choose a theme from the novel (isolation, loneliness, dreams, friendship, etc.) and show how that theme is developed using examples of characterizations from the novel.  Draw a conclusion as to what Steinbeck is trying to convey through use of the theme in the novel.


Persuasive Essay Writing:

In a persuasive essay, you are trying to change someone’s mind about a belief or idea they hold true.  First, you need to present your position on (defend or refute) an arguable topic and discuss why your position is correct/moral based on several reasons.  In order to be effective, you must sincerely take the opposition’s point of view to heart and even acknowledge it (yeah but).  After defining oppositional arguments, your job as a writer is to discredit it.  You do so by logical reasoning, using specific examples and evidence to show the shortcomings of the opposition’s arguments.


Persuasive Topics:

1) Support the thesis that George’s execution of Lennie was justifiable.  Use specific evidence from the novel to support your points.


2) Support the thesis that George’s execution of Lennie was not justifiable.  Use specific evidence from the novel to support your points.


3) Is George a heroic character?  Use the hero archetype to support this thesis.


4) Throughout the novel George is very obedient. He obeys Aunt Clara’s request to watch over Lennie, he obeys the rules of the farm, and he obeys the pursuit of his dream by not going to the whorehouse at the end of each month. Argue whether or not his final act of killing Lennie is an act of disobedience or obedience. Do his previous actions support his final action or does it seem out of character? Who is he disobeying/obeying when he kills Lennie? What has he put at risk?



1.  Thesis.  Identify what you will be arguing in your essay and why it is important or significant.  Think about what the author is trying to convey to the reader…lessons learned, applications to our own lives.  It is a statement, not a question (though sometimes answering a question will lead to the thesis).  Write it in one-sentence, in third person voice. 


2.  Introduction.  The thesis is the last sentence of your introductory paragraph.  The introductory sentences, which come before the thesis, need to ease the reader into the novel from a broader perspective.  The arguments you will develop in the body paragraphs should be briefly identified in the introduction/thesis.

a.  “Hook” the reader! (surprising statement, personal anecdote, quote/explanation)  Avoid using rhetorical questions!  Use the answer instead.

b.  Provide background information—definitely include title of novel (underlined or italicized) and author’s full name. 

c.  Thesis statement.  See above.


3.  Body paragraphs.  These follow a specific format of five steps:

a.  Transition (linking phrase needed to connect to next argument)/Topic Sentence (Introduce your 1st argument and how it relates to thesis)

b.  Introduce the speaker and identify the situation from the novel to specify an example.

c.  Provide evidence (quote from the novel) and include pg. number reference.

d.  Explain the quote.

e.  Analyze the quote and connect it to the thesis.

 All body paragraphs should follow the same format.


4.  Conclusion.  Crucial!  This is the lasting impression your reader will remember.


Finer points to remember:

  1. Avoid “you” or “I” statements in the body of your essay. (includes we, us, me, my, our, etc.).  I believe; I think
  2. Quotations MUST be written exactly from text, provide page number and format correctly.  See English Handbook for examples.
  3. After introducing author’s full name in the introduction ONLY refer to him by last name through the rest of the essay.
  4. Run spell/grammar check on each item, but don’t assume it will catch everything.
  5. Final papers should be 3 pages long. 12-point font, double-spaced.

Due Dates and Points:  EVERY piece of the process MUST be typed.

Pre-write Thesis (10 pts) due: Wednesday, Oct 7th

Outline + Peer Edit (15 pts) due: Monday, Oct. 12th

Rough Draft + Peer Edit (10 pts.) due: Monday, Oct 19th  

Final + process pieces (100 pts) due: Wednesday, Oct 21st