What is Of Mice and Men's Genre?

Instructor: Kayla Beggarly

Kayla has taught secondary English and has a bachelor's degree in English Education.

This lesson will discuss the literary genre of the novella and how John Steinbeck's title 'Of Mice and Men' as well as other examples fit this category.

Novella: The Busy Reader's Book

You're scrolling through your newsfeed on your phone and see the latest study about how you're wasting all your time on social media and not reading enough books. Little does this writer know, you're reading this article on your phone during your walk to get coffee before you get back to your busy work day. It's not that you don't enjoy reading, but who has the time? That's where the literary genre of the novella comes in.

A literary genre is basically a categorization; we can divide different types of literature up by their composition, features, or tone. For instance, a literary genre might be defined by content, such as 'horror,' or by length. Which leads us to the novella.

A novella is best categorized as piece of writing that is shorter than a novel but longer than a short story. It typically ranges from 8,000 to 50,000 words, or 20 to 150 pages. A novella typically follows a main plot without having several subplots or side stories going on throughout.

Examples of Novellas:

John Steinbeck's classic story, Of Mice and Men (published in 1937), fits the requirements for the novella genre, coming in right over 107 pages (varies by print). The following are other classic writings that fall within the novella genre of literature.

  • Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote
  • The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
  • Animal Farm by George Orwell

Tragic Realistic Fiction

As with many works of literature, Of Mice and Men actually falls into more than one type of genre. It is also a tragic realistic fiction. This genre encompasses the idea that a great piece of literature does not have to have a happily ever after. The 'realistic fiction' part of this term simply means that everything in the narrative could happen in the real world, but it hasn't. You won't see any magic, dragons, or robots in realistic fiction. The 'tragic' part of this genre often ends with the conflict being resolved for the main character(s) in way the reader did not anticipate.

Examples of Tragic Realistic Fiction

Other than Of Mice and Men, the following are novels and novellas that are considered tragic realistic fiction due to their unusual endings.

  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald
  • As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

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