Of Mice and Men Socratic Seminar

What is empathy? Why is it an important human characteristic?

Why is it important to society for people to be accepting of those who are different? What lessons can we learn from those who live lives different from our own?

What is an individual’s duty to others?

Why is it important for people to feel like they belong?

What can the struggles of others teach us about ourselves? How can people’s struggles define who they become?

What are the elements that build a strong friendship? Lennie and George had an unusual friendship - how are people transformed through their relationships with others? How do you know if a relationship is healthy or hurtful? What can we learn as readers from the relationship between George and Lennie?

Can mercy killing be justified?

How are the experiences of migrant workers like Lennie and George similar to what people go through today?

What is the American Dream and to what extent is it achievable for all Americans?  In what ways does the American Dream mean different things for different Americans?

BY ROBERT BURNS
ON TURNING UP IN HER NEST WITH THE PLOUGH, NOVEMBER, 1785(A farmer ran over a mouse nest with his plow while tending to his fields)

Wee, sleeket, cowran, tim’rous beastie,
O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!

Thou need na start awa sae hasty,

          Wi’ bickerin brattle!

I wad be laith to rin an’ chase thee
          Wi’ murd’ring pattle! 
I’m truly sorry Man’s dominion
Has broken Nature’s social union,
An’ justifies that ill opinion,
          Which makes thee startle,
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,
          An’ fellow-mortal! 
I doubt na, whyles, but thou may thieve;
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
A daimen-icker in a thrave
          ’S a sma’ request:
I’ll get a blessin wi’ the lave,
          An’ never miss ’t! 
Thy wee-bit housie, too, in ruin!
It’s silly wa’s the win’s are strewin!
An’ naething, now, to big a new ane,
          O’ foggage green!
An’ bleak December’s winds ensuin,
          Baith snell an’ keen! 
Thou saw the fields laid bare an’ waste,
An’ weary Winter comin fast,
An’ cozie here, beneath the blast,
          Thou thought to dwell,
Till crash! the cruel coulter past
          Out thro’ thy cell. 
That wee-bit heap o’ leaves an’ stibble
Has cost thee monie a weary nibble!
Now thou’s turn’d out, for a’ thy trouble,
          But house or hald,
To thole the Winter’s sleety dribble,
          An’ cranreuch cauld! 
But Mousie, thou art no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men
          Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
          For promis’d joy! 
Still, thou art blest, compar’d wi’ me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But Och! I backward cast my e’e,
          On prospects drear!
An’ forward tho’ I canna see,
          I guess an’ fear!

Socratic Seminar Questions:

What is the American Dream?  Is it Attainable?
    How do people cope with loneliness? 
    Is mercy killing ever justified?
    How do choices shape our character?
    Why is "Where" important?
Why was Of Mice and Men named after this poem?



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