I love Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. I’ve taught it for several years. The novel’s harsh language does present some problems.
- The Lord’s name is used in vain 26 times.
- There are 41 additional instances of Deity being referenced as a curse word.
- The N-word appears 16 times.
- The word for a female dog shows up 10 times without actually referencing a female dog.
- The word used to insult illegitimate children centuries ago is mentioned 18 times.
- Damn is used 33 times.
- Hell shows itself 76 times.
Most students don’t mind.
Some do. Some parents do. Students have the right to ask for an alternative novel, which is a complete pain in the behind for teachers.
But what if the alternative novel to Of Mice and Men is Of Mice and Men?
“That’s crazy talk!” you say? But no. Here’s an edited version of Of Mice and Men. Most harsh language has been removed and replaced with less offensive words.
Here’s the best way to handle the potential problem of reading a novel with so many offensive terms
- At the start of class, provide two piles.
- Give students the option of taking the original version (most do) or the edited version.
- If you read in class, read the edited version.