The Trials “Of Mice and Men”

Mock Trial

Jennifer Braunfels, center, held a mock trial in her junior American Literature class, where students debated the guilt or innocence of characters in John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men.”

By Aisha Ali, ’14

On March 13, Jennifer Braunfel’s American Literature and Composition class held a mock trial of the characters of John Steninbeck’s novel “Of Mice And Men.”

Braunfels holds a mock trial every year, but this is the first year she has held a mock trial on the book “Of Mice and Men”. “The kids love it. This year I decided to also have one for Of Mice and Men because the students said they liked the last mock trial so much,” said Braunfels.

Mrs. Braunfels’ class debated whether or not George, one of the main characters, murdered his friend Lennie, a mentally disabled man who was being hunted down by another man, Curly, for accidentally killing Curly’s wife.

The mock trial broke students into different roles. Some were lawyers, others played characters from the book, some were court reporters and others were on the jury. Both the defense and prosecution side were allowed to question witnesses and present evidence. In the mock trial they held in the fall, there was even a jury made up of people not in the class, but in this mock trial the students without a role were cast as the jury. Braunfels acted as the judge.

Before the start of the trial, the excitement in the class was noticeable. The students took two days to prepare for the mock trial after they finished the book.

“The students prepared by taking on the role of one of the characters or a lawyer. If they chose the role of a character, they had to go back and look through the book and decide how their character would feel about George being tried for murder based on events and interactions from the story. Lawyers had to decide what types of questions to ask to help their case,” said Braunfels.

Students dressed the part: some wore formal clothing, while others wore flannel. The mock trial started with both the prosecution and defense attorneys making their opening statement. The prosecution consisted of Jordan Lau. The defense attorneys were Zachary Hurd and Danielle Morin. Lau then proceeded to call upon the first witness, The Boss, played by Rebecca Stacey-Outten. The trial continued as every character was questioned; even dead Lennie, played by Matt Berube, was put on the stand.

“[The mock trial] makes you personally involved, it game me a better understanding of what we read by making us think like the character,” said Stacey-Outten.

In the end, the jury stepped out of the room to make their decision. They came back in and voiced the verdict. George, played by Dustin Wyman, was convicted of murder, and Curly, played by Tyler Lefean, was charged with attempted murder.

The benefits to a mock trial is that it allows students to see the book from a different perspective, according to Braunfels. Did George have a reason to kill Lennie? It makes the students question their common sense and view the other side to the story.

“This was a way for them to show me not only that they knew the book back and front,” said Braunfels, “but that they could take it a step further and put themselves in the shoes of the characters and make decisions based on how that character would act in certain situations. They need to know the characters and events from the book so well that they have to almost become them.”

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