The Title



Many readers have been wondering why John Steinbeck entitled his book Of Mice and Men.  The title actually comes from a poem by Robert Burns called “To a Mouse.”  Read the excerpt below:

“But Mouse, you are not alone,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes of mice and men
Go often askew,
And leaves us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!”

WRITING PROMPT: What does this excerpt mean to you?  What connections do you see between the book and this excerpt from Burns’ poem?  


6 thoughts on “The Title

  1. autumn walker p.8
    The mouse is lennie. They are saying he is not alone because he has george. And their is something they go threw but yet they find the best in what they have in their friendship.

  2. Aaron Rojas period 1. I feel like the book is more of a longer story of the poem. The story has both George and Lennie together, not alone, just like the mouse in Robert Burns’ poem. In both the poem and the book, it states that a carefully, greatly laid out plan, almost perfect plan, went out of reach. Next, both the poem and book shows how the joy someone is just about to reach jumps out of reach, and leaves pain and sadness. I think the book is just the poem with a plot, characters, and a setting. It seems to me that the poem has the same beginning, middle, and end. I also think that the writing pieces are the same, one with vague and not specific characters, and one that gives you a deep emotional bond with the whole story.

  3. At the end of the excerpt it says “…And leaves us nothing but grief and pain, for promised joy.” Meaning that happiness will come out of pain and suffering. Like George at the end of chapter 6 when he killed Lennie to stop having to getting him out of trouble. Tom D. Per4

  4. Andrea McLaughlin period 5
    In the first line of the poem it says ”But mouse, you are not alone”. I think the mouse is Lennie because George aways says you have me im not going anywhere. To me the quote is saying that Lennie will always have George. In the book Lennie and George stick together and in the poem its saying you are not alone.

  5. I think the poem has a deeper meaning than the book. George is the mouse who is not alone. Lennie always tells him how he will never be alone. The ending of poem talks about grief and pain, almost how the book ends. The promise joy is like how at the end of the book Lennie dies happy. He will always have joy.

  6. This exerpt means that to have happiness you need to go through hardships. This exerpt says that things often drift from the plan. That causes pain and grief. This will lead to the goal that they were striving for. In of mice and men, George was aiming for a goal and Pennie was causing hardships and this made George get further away from accomplishing the goal. The excerpt and of mice and men are very similar.

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