GCSE English Revision - Of Mice And Men

6th May 2014

We've briefly looked at the main characters of the novel in previous blogs, now we have some historical facts of the time which give you context.

Historical factors

The Depression:

- 29th October 1929 known as ‘Black Friday’ in America.

- On this date the Wall Street Crash occurred where billions of dollars were lost as a result of the crash in the stock markets.

- Sparked the Great Depression and signalled the end of the prosperity experienced throughout the 1920’s.

- Banks went out of business and many people lost all of their savings.

- Unemployment rose from 3% on 1929 to 26% in 1934.

- Estimated that at one point 34 million men, women and children had no income to support them.

- No welfare state meaning no government hand-outs to assist those in need.

- Many people were evicted from their homes and ended up living in shanty towns (‘Hoovervilles’ named after the then president, Herbert C Hoover).


Migrant Farmers:

- Increase in farming activity the previous years and a seven year drought beginning in 1931 led to severe erosion of the once fecund grasslands, leaving much of the mid-West a barren and infertile desert known as the ‘Dust Bowl’.

- Hundreds of thousands of farmers and their families packed up whatever belongings they had left and headed for California.

- For many, California was perceived as the promised land and referred to as ‘Golden’ California.

- California’s mild climate, long growing season and soil suited to growing a greater variety of crops attracted many.

- Many Californians turned people back and treated incomers with scorn fearing they would become overrun.

- Few migrants had anywhere to travel back to and ended up in ‘Hoovervilles’, making their lives even harder.

- Many sought work as casual farm labourers.

- Life was gruelling, unrewarding and challenging for the majority of migrants and few found it to be the land of opportunity and plenty they had once dreamed it to be.

- As ranch hands (like George and Lennie), although the wages were very poor, workers were provided with lodgings to sleep and food to eat.

The American Dream:

- In America the popular belief was that if you worked hard enough you would be successful.

- This idea was known as the ‘American Dream’.

- Peoples faith in this idea was severely tested during the 30’s.

- Many people lost all possessions, all self-respect and faith in society.

- Some did however hold onto the notion of the American Dream despite the prevailing economic and social conditions.


If you want to fast track your learning, revise Of Mice And Men with our  GCSE revision song on the subject. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XiO8TyekF08

We cover all the main GCSE literture texts, with demos here http://learnthrumusic.co.uk/subjects/

We have free 24 hour trials available here; http://learnthrumusic.co.uk/sign-up/#trial-account




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