Comprehension questions on Chapter 6

  1. Where does Lennie go at the beginning of the chapter and why?
  2. What does Lennie say to himself?
  3. Who does he see coming out of his head and why? What do these characters say to him and why?
  4. What does George say to Lennie? What is unusual about the way he talks?
  5. Why does George talk about the dream before he shoots Lennie?
  6. Why does he shoot Lennie?
  7. How does Steinbeck create suspense at this moment in the novel? How and why does he make it so emotional?


Assessment piece: writing to inform, describe and explain


Describe the dreams you have for yourself, and the dreams your parents have for you. Inform the reader about WHY you have these dreams and explain whether you think you will achieve them.

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Chapter 3 – is the “Dream” becoming reality?


  1. What are the key things that make up George and Lennie’s dream?
  2. Why does Candy want to become part of the dream? How does he propose to become a part of it?
  3. Why do all three men actually think the dream might become reality?
  4. How does Steinbeck build sympathy and interest in the characters in this section when there’s so little dramatic action?
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How does Steinbeck paint a picture of a very SEXIST and CHAUVINISTIC world?

Comment upon:

 How the men talk about Curley’s wife

How they view women

What sort of relationships they have with women

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How does Steinbeck make the fight between Lennie and Curley so dramatic and full of tension?

Learning Objectives: to develop your reading skills; to develop your ability to analyse quotation; to develop your understanding of the book.

Post your re-drafted answers from your books onto this blog, in response to this post…

Finish reading Chapter 3 in your groups.

Comprehension questions

Why is Lennie laughing when Curley comes into the bunkhouse?
What does Curley think he is laughing about?
What does Curley do?
Find ONE quote that describes Curley fighting Lennie. How effectively does Steinbeck use language here? ANALYSE the quote!
Find ONE quote that describes Lennie fighting Curley. How effectively does Steinbeck use language here? ANALYSE the quote!
Why does Curley agree not to tell his father, the Boss, about Lennie hurting him?

GCSE style question:
How does Steinbeck make the fight between Curley and Lennie so dramatic? Think carefully about:

how Steinbeck has “contextualised” the fight; we feel a great deal of tension because of what has already been written, because of the story so far;

how Steinbeck describes the fight so vividly…

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How effectively does John Steinbeck present Crooks?

Steinbeck paints a portrait of Crooks which situates him a specific time and place. The attitudes of people of the time have shaped Crooks’ character: he is clearly bitter because of the racism he has been subjected to.

This is a pupil essay (Year 9) on Crooks. What are its strengths and weaknesses?


John Steinbeck, the author, uses the character of Crooks to represent racism and symbolize the marginalization of the black community occurring at the time in which the novel is set. Crooks is significant as he provides an insight into the reality of the American Dream and the feelings of all the ranchers: their loneliness and need for company and human interaction. Crooks got his name from his “crooked back,” this suggests he represents something different and he is not your average ranch hand. Having a crooked back in our days indicates a disability, however, we can see that in American society in the 1930’s being black was synonymous of having a disability. The reader has to decide whether Crooks deserves sympathy, or if he is just a bitter, cruel and gruff stable-buck.
We first hear of Crooks when Candy calls him a “nigger,” this is meant as a white insult, in our time this would be seen as racism and unacceptable. This implies that the term “nigger” is acceptable and the time period is in the 1930’s during the Depression era. It’s important to remember that the main theme of this novel is isolation/loneliness. Crooks is lonely because he is the only black man on a white man’s ranch, he is the target of racial discrimination, but we see that he just wants to be accepted and have a friend but is isolated because of his skin colour. He isn’t a bad man at all and Steinbeck shows this extremely well.
In the beginning of chapter 4, Lennie’s and Candy’s presence has mixed effects on the reader, people think he is angry, however, I believe that he’s secretly happy because he has visitors, but he tries to look angry so people see him as they always have, as the isolated back, stable buck guy. Steinbeck described Crooks as a cripple, to me he seems to be closer to horses than he is to humans –he possesses ‘a range of medicine bottles, both for himself and for the horses.’.
He is portrayed as an educated man as he has a ‘tattered dictionary’, and ‘gold – rimmed spectacles’. Steinbeck describes him as a ‘proud aloof man’, and, we can deduct that he had been through a lot of pain and misery during the course of his life, enough for Steinbeck to describe his lips as ‘pain-tightened’.
At first we do not have any sympathy for him as when he starts torturing Lennie his ‘face lighted with pleasure’. Only later we understand that his actions are born out of jealousy.He is jealous of the friendship between Lennie and George.
Through his monologue we understand how lonely and isolated he feels, all he’s ever wanted it ‘ somebody – to be near him’. Crooks says ‘a guy goes nuts when he ain’t got nobody’.
When he realises that Lennie and Candy mean no harm he softens considerably and really believes , for a short time, that he can be part of the ‘dream’, which is him being able to interact with the other, white men on the ranch without being judged. Until Curley’s wife comes in and reminds him of his place in that society.
When Curly’s wife threatens to have him ‘strung up on a tree,’ Crooks grows smaller and ‘reduces himself to nothing’, ‘ no personality, no ego… his voice was toneless.’
The way he changes during this section is key to understanding him and feeling sympathy for him. At the end of the section in chapter 4, he is resigned back to fact that he has no power to change his rather miserable life.

Steinbeck portrays Crooks as a very likeable character. He is lonely and vulnerable and it’s impossible not to feel sorry for him. The narrative style in which Steinbeck portrays Crooks emphasizes the author’s raw power as a story teller. The use of figurative language in describing Crooks creates an atmosphere of reality-we have a vivid picture of how blacks were treated and how they lived not so long ago.

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ShowMe presentations on Crooks, please watch these videos

Crooks Part 1:

Crooks Part 2:

Crooks Part 3:

Crooks Part 4:

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Comprehension questions on Crooks

1) What does Crooks’ anecdote about his childhood tell us about his character? Where his “station” in life is now?
2) As an African American, what words describe how Crooks likely feels in his life?
3) Why is it significant that Crooks lives on his own? How does his isolation tell us about his place in the world?
4) Explain what it means when it says “he kept his distance and expected others to keep theirs”
5) Why is it important that Lennie goes to Crooks’ room? What does it tell us about Lennie’s character? Crooks?

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Comprehension questions on the whole book with answers

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In what ways does Steinbeck make Crooks an interesting character?

This is an essay question in the style of a GCSE exam question (you won’t get the exact same question in the exam!)

Essay plan:

Paragraph 1:
Comment upon the ways in which Steinbeck builds a picture of the world Crooks inhabits in an interesting way. This is the social CONTEXT of the book. You need to explain that Steinbeck builds up interest in Crooks as a character because he lives in a very difficult situation; he lives in a CONTEXT which is very racist. This was similar to the world that Steinbeck saw when he travelled around the farms in California.

Paragraph 2
Steinbeck makes this racist world very vivid because of his ability to use powerful DIALOGUE. Look for THREE or FOUR quotes which show that people are racist in this time, and explain how Steinbeck makes this dialogue interesting.

Paragraph 3
Look at the ways in which Steinbeck makes Crooks an interesting character through his use of description. He uses powerful descriptive language to describe Crooks. Find THREE quotes he uses to describe Crooks. Analyse these quotes.

Paragraph 4

Look at the ways in which Steinbeck interesting because of the ways in which he gives Crooks a fascinating narrative or story. Crooks’ story is fascinating; we learn about his childhood and the difficulties he faces. He gets drawn into the story because he believes he can join Candy, Lennie and George on their farm. Why is this moving?

Paragraph 5

Look at the ways in which Steinbeck makes Crooks interesting through his exploration of certain THEMES when he describes Crooks. Crooks’ loneliness is interesting.

Write a conclusion to your essay.

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Chapter 6: the terrifying ending to the novel

The ending of this novel gets me every time; it is so sad.

What makes it such a powerful ending to the book? You should consider these points:

The ways in which Steinbeck has made us feel sympathetic to the main characters Lennie and George
The moral dilemmas he explores
The descriptions of George speaking to Lennie
His evocation of Lennie’s distress and ignorance
His use of dialogue
The world he has created in the book

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