Of Mice and Men – Christmas Revision #1

here is a question b – this should take you ten minutes!

Chapter 2
The bunkhouse was a long, rectangular building. Inside, the walls were whitewashed and the floor unpainted. In three walls there were small, square windows, and in the fourth, a solid door with a wooden latch. Against the walls were eight bunks, five of them made up with blankets and the other three showing their burlap ticking. Over each bunk there was nailed an apple box with the opening forward so that it made two shelves for the personal belongings of the occupant of the bunk. And these shelves were loaded with little articles, soap and talcum powder, razors and those Western magazines ranch men love to read and scoff at and secretly believe. And there were medicines on the shelves, and little vials, combs; and from nails on the box sides, a few neckties. Near one wall there was a black cast-iron stove, its stovepipe going straight up through the ceiling. In the middle of the room stood a big square table littered with playing cards, and around it were grouped boxes for the players to sit on.
At about ten o’clock in the morning the sun threw a bright dust-laden bar through one of the side windows, and in and out of the beam flies shot like rushing stars.

How does the writer use language to show the conditions in the ranch?

For a C grade:
a) Comment on the possessions the author chooses to list
b) What does the word ‘littered’ suggest?
c) Which aspects of the room suggest it is rather rough?

For a B grade:
a) Why might the door be described as ‘solid’?
b) What contrasts or conflicts are there in the description of the bunk-house?
c) What impression is given from the terms, ‘nailed’, ‘black cast-iron’ and ‘dust-laden bar’?

For an A grade:
a) What does the phrase ‘scoff at and secretly believe’ say about the hopes and dreams of the men?
b) How does the ‘floor unpainted’ contrast with the ‘vials, ‘combs’ and ‘neckties’ – what does it say about the men?
c) The cards suggest that the men might be gamblers who trust to luck – how does the simile in the final line build on this idea?

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