English Literature: Of Mice and Men Background and Context

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Talk about the 1920's standard of living in America. Explain.
It was a 'boom time' for many - there was low inflation, low unemployment and low interest rates, so people had a high standard of living.
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Talk about cities in the American 1920's.
They were rebuilt with tall skyscrapers, and major road building programmes were undertaken.
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Talk about the consumer boom in America 1920's.
More people could afford items like radios, refrigerators, washing machines and vacuum cleaners.
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What happened in 1929? What did this lead to?
The American stock market crashed, which lead to a massive economic depression.
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Talk about what the consequences of the crashing of the stock market?
There were high levels of unemployment, poverty and homelessness.
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What was happening due to the increase in mechanisation? Where did these migrate to? Why?
Agricultural labourers were being driven off the land, many of these migrated to California hoping for work.
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What was California full of?
Official (and unofficial) refugee camps.
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What was happening due to drought and over-farming?
There was a reduction in the amount of fertile land.
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Talk about the situation of Land owners in states like Oklahoma and Arkansas in the 1930's.
They were going bankrupt and their land was being repressed by the banks.
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What was happening to some banks in the 1930's?
They were collapsing.
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Who was elected Prsident of the Untied States in November 1932?
Franklin D Roosevelt.
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What was Franklin D Roosevelt's three main aims of his 'New Deal'? Explain each one.
Relief - help improve people's lives. Recovery - begin rebuilding US industry and trade. Reform - change conditions to ensure future progress.
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Talk about how the economy recovered under Roosevelt's leadership?
It did begin to recover, but improvement was very slow.
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What did Roosevelt's New Deal create?
New optimism and people's lives were improving.
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Who suffered a lot in the 1930's?
Farmers.
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What couldn't many farmer's afford to do after the stock market crash?
They couldnt afford to keep their farms and so their workers lost their jobs too.
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Talk about what created a 'dust bowl' in some parts of America. What were the consequences?
Drought and over-farming created it - which meant the land wasn't fertile enough to grow crops.
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Where did many farm workers travel to?
California, where the climate and soil were better. They only took what they could carry on their backs.
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Give two examples of travelling farm workers.
George and Lennie.
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Talk about the lifestyle of a travelling farm worker.
They moved from farm to farm looking for work. In return for their hard work they got a bed, food and a small wage. They took temporary jobs wherever they could find them, and moved on when the work was finished. They often travelled alone.
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What did many ordinary people dream of becoming after film stars started to make lots of money?
They (e.g. Curley's wife) dreamed of becoming famous and living a star's glamorous lifestyle.
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Give two examples of film stars that become more well-known all over the world.
Charlie Chaplin and Mary Pickford.
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What became the biggest form of mass entertainment in the 1920's?
Film - cinema was a multi-million dollar industry. There were also big developments in film technology in the late 1920s - film studios developed films in colour and with sound.
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Talk about racist language in the 1930's.
It was very common.
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Which four characters are discriminated against?
Lennie, Crooks, Candy and Curley's wife.
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Talk about the reality of Crooks' bad treatment in the book.
It would have been probably typical of black men in American in the 1930s - it was a very racist place
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Talk about the segregation in many US states.
Black people had to use separate, lower quality public spaces and services to white people.
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Give an example of horrific racist violence in 1930.
Two young black men, Thomas Shipp and Abraham Smith were lynched. They'd been accused of **** and murder - but not tried or convicted. A crowd broke into the jail where they were being held, and killed them.
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What does the declaration of independence give us an idea of? What did this say?
What the American Dream meant to many people. "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness"
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Was the American Dream the same for everyone?
No it meant different things for different people at different times.
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Talk about most of western america in the 19th Century.
it was unexplored and largely inhabited.
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What were the people who travelled west and settled on free land called?
Frontiersmen.
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Who became frontiersmen? Why? What did this become?
Poor people because it promised the chnace of a better life. You could be your own boss and make your own fortune. This was their American Dream.
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What was George and Lennie's version of the American Dream?
The dream of owning their own land.
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What was the reality of life for many frontiersmen?
Life was very tough.
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What created a sense of pessimism that the American Dream was dead?
That by 1900 there was no more frontier to conquer.
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What developed during the boom of the 1920's?
A new American Dream.
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What reflects the fact that Of Mice and Men is full of pessimism?
The mood of the American Society in the 1930's.
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What seemed to be a way of getting rich quick in the 1920's?
Investing in the stock market.
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What did the rise of Hollywood make people want to live?
Glamorous and exciting lives.
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What ended the era of optimism?
The Great Depression. American Society became very pessimistic.
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Talk about the dreams of George and Lennie, and Curley's wife in the novel.
George and Lennie dream of living "off the fatta the Ian" Curley's wife dreams that she could have "been in the movies an' had nice clothes"
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Other cards in this set

Card 2

Front

Talk about cities in the American 1920's.

Back

They were rebuilt with tall skyscrapers, and major road building programmes were undertaken.

Card 3

Front

Talk about the consumer boom in America 1920's.

Back

Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4

Front

What happened in 1929? What did this lead to?

Back

Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5

Front

Talk about what the consequences of the crashing of the stock market?

Back

Preview of the front of card 5
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