Context for this Lesson
Topic: Character Analysis
Purpose: To draw conclusions about a character's motivation, emotions and moral orientation and predict what a character might do in the future.
Prior Knowledge: Students be reading/have read Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Materials: a passage from Of Men and Men
Students read and reflect on a passage about George’s inner conflict from Of Mice and Men.
Discuss: Should George save his earnings so he and Lennie can buy their own piece of property one day, or spend his money on gambling, cat houses and instant gratification?
Writing in role
Ask students to imagine that they are the character George from Of Mice and Men. Based on the passage they just read, ask students to write a diary entry from George’s point of view discussing his feelings about Lennie. “Describe whether you see Lennie as an asset or a detriment. Does having Lennie as a companion help George save for his goals, or hold him back in life? As George, you should support your opinions with specific examples from the text." Have students share their written work.
Transition: "Clearly, George's feelings about Lennie are really complicated. Let's see if we can identify the different voices in George's head."
Angel vs. Devil
Write the words “Angel” and “Devil” on the board. Ask students if George had an “angel” voice in his head giving him advice about what to do with Lennie, what would it say? Who in George’s world represents each of these angel voices? What if George had a “devil” voice in his head giving him advice about Lennie, what would the devil voice say? Who in George’s world represents each of these devil voices?
Transition: "Now that we have a better idea of the pressures George is experiencing, we're going to bring these people to life and hear what they have to say to George."
Put students in partners and invite them to sit back to back. George has a phone call with someone in his life (who can either represent the angel or devil view point). One student plays George the other student plays someone in his life (this can be a character in the book, or another character the student invents. ie: George’s therapist, his mother, etc…). All students have their phone calls at the same time. Pause all the calls at certain points to listen in on one pair of students.
Transition: "It sounds like you had a lot of advice to offer George. I would like to invite you, as your characters, to join me in an intervention for George. When I put on (costume piece) I am going to step into role as a therapist. We are going to invite George to listen to what we have to offer him."
Group Therapy/Hot seating
Step into role. Invite all of the people in George's life to join you. You run a support group called: The Troubled Georges We Know and Love. Ask them questions about their phone call. "How did it go? Did you convince George to come to your side? What tactics did you use to try to convice him?" The George characters watch and listen. Then invite the many sides of George to therapy. Tell them you now run a self help group called: Mind Your Own Business Anonymous. Ask him: "How do you feel about your current situation? How do you feel about all of these people giving you advice? Do you want to take any of their advice? What advice? What would you like to say to these people?"
Describe: What did we do in these activities?
Analyze: What did you learn about George by stepping into his characer? What did you learn about the various pressures George faces? Do you think George should abandon Lennie?
Relate: Based on what we know about George's current situation what can we predict for his future?