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Of Mice and Men - Dialogue

This GCSE English Literature quiz is about dialogue in Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck.

Although “dialogue” technically means a conversation between at least two people, the word is used for any direct speech in a text. Dialogue is a very important aspect of characterisation. Many of the characters in Of Mice and Men speak in a similar manner and the reader must pay attention to the subtle differences between characters.

Dialogue conveys meaning not only through its content, but also through specific details such as language choice, use of dialect and even the interruptions and pauses which an author indicates through punctuation. When reading a work of fiction ask yourself the following questions: How do different characters speak?

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How does vocabulary vary between different characters? Does the way in which a character speaks change over time, or in different situations? Does it matter to whom the character is speaking?

Dialogue tells you much more than about the individual foibles of each character. You can also learn more about the story, including events which happened before the story begins, and how characters expect to see future events unfold. In Of Mice and Men it is valuable to pay attention to George and Lennie as they discuss past events, including their memories of home, as well as paying close attention to their dreams of the future.

Memorising dialogue is a useful way to prepare for a literature exam. Create a list of the most significant examples of dialogue for each character, especially noting those that illustrate their characteristics or occur at a turning point in the text.

The quiz below focusses on knowing who is speaking each of these lines. When answering the questions, think carefully about the significance of the dialogue. What does it tell us about the character who is speaking? Is it possible to imagine another character speaking the same lines? If not, why not? Also consider whether the dialogue gives us information about the person being addressed, or whether it foreshadows or explain later events.

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  1. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "Ain't many guys travel around together. I don't know why. Maybe ever'body in the whole damn world is scared of each other."
    Slim is fascinated by Lennie and George's unlikely-seeming friendship and muses thoughtfully on George's explanation for it
  2. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "S'pose you had to sit out here an' read books. Sure you could play horseshoes till it got dark, but then you got to read books. Books ain't no good. A guy needs somebody — to be near him."
    The other men exclude Crooks from their company because he is black. As a consequence he is angry as well as lonely
  3. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "Well, a show come through, an' I met one of the actors. He says I could go with the show. But my ol' lady wouldn' let me. She says because I was on'y fifteen. But the guy says I coulda. If I'd went, I wouldn't be livin' like this, you bet."
    Curley's wife feels as trapped in her life as the men on the ranch do in theirs
  4. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "I'm jus' tryin' to tell you I didn't mean nothing. I jus' though you might of saw her."
    Curley is nearly always seen looking for his wife. Although he usually demands aggressively to know where she is, here he is talking to Slim in a placating manner because the quiet authority of the other man knocks the bluster out of him
  5. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "If I was alone I could live so easy. I could get a job an' not have no mess."
    George says these lines "woodenly". Life without Lennie would be easier because he would have fewer worries, but it would also be an exceptionally lonely life. George knows that this lonely life will be his in the future because he cannot save Lennie from the consequences of killing Curley's wife
  6. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "If you want me to, I'll put the old devil out of his misery right now and get it over with. Ain't nothing left for him."
    Carlson talks as if he takes pity on Candy's old, decrepit dog, but it is also true that he can't bear its presence in the bunkhouse and he volunteers eagerly to put an end to its suffering with his Luger
  7. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "You wasn't big enough. They tol' me and tol' me you wasn't."
    Like a young child, Lennie often does what he wants, ignoring the warnings of others. Here he is full of regret because he has accidentally killed the puppy he loved. Even though he remembers times in the past when he has done something similar, he is unable to control his impulses
  8. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "When they can me here I wisht somebody'd shoot me. But they won't do nothing like that. I won't have no place to go , an' I can't get no more jobs."
    Candy's likely fate represents the end of the itinerant labourer's working life. They each know that disability, old age and loss of strength will eventually cause them to be cast aside
  9. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "Sure, we'd have a little house an' a room to ourself. Little fat iron stove, an' in the winter we'd keep a fire goin' in it. It ain't enough land so we'd have to work too hard."
    George enjoys elaborating upon the shared dream of owning land as much as Lennie enjoys listening to him
  10. Match the dialogue to the correct speaker.

    "Tell about what we're gonna have in the garden and about the rabbits in the cages and about the rain in the winter and the stove, and how thick the cream is on the milk like you can hardly cut it."
    Lennie's desire to hear over and over again the dream about owning land and rabbits is reminiscent of a child wishing to hear a bedtime story. The dream is equally important to the more serious-minded George, however

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