The photograph Migrant Mother, taken by Dorothea Lange in 1936, will be used to introduce the historical context for Of Mice and Men written by John Steinbeck. This is critical for ESL students to understand the life style of the main characters George and Lenny. The photographer Dorothea Lange was paid by the government to document the plight of the displaced farmers.
The photograph was chosen to be a stamp to commemorate the Great Depression. This women, Florence Leona Christie, and her family were driven from her home in Oklahoma by the dustbowl across the country to do migrant work offered in California. I chose this photograph because Florence conveys a complicated array of emotions such as strength, despair, confusion and determination. Her children rely on her much like the childlike character of Lenny relies on George in Of Mice and Men.
The class has been studying mood, so I will ask student pairs to decide what mood is conveyed by the picture during the introductory lesson for the novel Of Mice and Men. Then partners will create and share short vignettes about what they think was happening when this picture was taken. Finally, students will write a journal entry reacting to the following quote by Isaac Asimov.
“No one can possibly have lived through the Great Depression without being scarred by it. No amount of experience since the depression can convince someone who has lived through it that the world is safe economically.” Isaac Asimov
en:Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, reproduction number LC-DIG-fsa-8b29516.