This GCSE English Literature quiz is the second of two extract questions for Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. Curley’s wife discovers Lennie alone in the barn while the rest of the men are busily engaged in a horseshoe throwing tournament. Only these two characters are present and their quiet conversation leads quickly to the most devastating events in the novel. In a case of tragic irony, by choosing a time when she and Lennie were unlikely to be interrupted in the barn, Curley’s wife has no chance of being rescued from Lennie’s overwhelming strength. Pay close attention to the shifts in this passage, both characters change tone as they manage to evoke unexpected emotions in one another. Remember to read the passage through more than once before answering the questions. Consider how this passage relates to the themes of the novel. Which details are the most significant? Can you account for the language choices?
What does the conversation tell us about each of these characters and their inner lives? And remember, it’s a good idea to practise several extract questions, so be sure to try the Extract 1 quiz, as well!
When answering an extract question in an exam be sure to read the passage through more than once as you consider your response. The first time you can aim for a broad understanding of the passage and how you might use it to answer the questions. On the second reading you can begin noting details and making annotations. It can be useful to ask yourself why the specific passage has been chosen. How does it relate to the rest of the text? Pay attention to its place in the structure of the text. Are any significant characters or significant themes introduced? What happens afterwards? Does anything in the passage foreshadow later events? What changes? Also consider the ending of the extract: why do you think it ends where it does instead of somewhere else? What is significant about the final line?
Pay very close attention to the exact question being asked. You might be asked to write about mood, atmosphere, or a particular character. You might be asked to discuss dialogue, behaviour or feelings. Always explain the passage’s immediate context: what events precede the extract? Pay close attention to the detail, to setting and characterisation. Think about how the passage relates to the themes of the text. Try to balance organisation, such as grouping related ideas together in your writing, with thoroughness, by being sure to discuss the entire passage. Above all, avoid writing about the first half of the passage in such detail that you run out of time to write about the second half!
Read the extract from Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck below carefully before answering the questions.