Themes, Motifs and Foreshadowing

If you look carefully, there are a whole range of features in Of Mice and Men that recur. These are often good places to search for literary features that can help us to better understand the text. Consider the following list:

Games – solitaire and horseshoes
Killing the pets
George reminding Lennie about hiding in the bush
George telling Lennie about their own ranch

Pets – pups (Lennies pup), mice, rabbits, candy’s dog

Scared of each other
Everyone travels alone
Candy and Lennie both have pets
Everyone thinks about getting a piece of land (everyone has dreams)
Men treat women similarly

Lennie gets into trouble
Curley’s wife flirting
Lennie hides the mice/ hides the pup
Curley inclination to fighting.

Consider these elements based upon your list:

  1. Many ranchers play solitaire even when others are around
  2. Candy’s dog is shot because it is no longer any use
  3. Candy DOESN’T shoot his dog
  4. George reminds Lennie of his hiding place in the bush
  5. George’s retelling of their farm (everyone has this dream -> unattainable)
  6. Everyone travels alone/fear of getting sacked
  7. The ranchers treatment of women
  8. The way the men solve their problems


  1. Choose 1 element
  2. Find and example of the element in the text and copy the quote. Describe the context of the element. What is happening in the novel at the time?
  3. Answer:
    1. Why is this important to the text
    2. What does this show us?
  4. Decide: does this element have literary name?

Consider the Elements above. Which literary device can we attach to each (there may be more than 1 answer)?

Themes are the fundamental and often universal ideas explored in a literary work.

Motifs are recurring structures, contrasts, and literary devices that can help to develop and inform the text’s major themes.

Symbols are objects, characters, figures, and colors used to represent abstract ideas or concepts.

Foreshadowing is an element or event in the text that suggests certain plot developments later in the story.


1. Find an image that represents the element you investigated today. This might be symbolic or concrete. Use FlikrCC as your search engine as you are given license to use these images.

2. Research some classic or archetypal examples of your chosen device.

3. Publish the work. Organise your thoughts in whatever manner suits but make sure its big enough to read from a distance (aim for 1 A4 sheet with 16point font). Don’t forget a Title and your name! You can see an example on this page.

4. Save in your English folio. Don’t forget to share it with your partner.

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