Universal Theme Connection Project

Thematic Statement:

Powerlessness can cause people to become weak and lose control of the world around them.

Core Text

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

The book Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck portrays powerlessness through some of the various characters like Lennie, Candy, and Crooks. Lennie is powerless due to his mental disabilities. It is clearly seen throughout the entire novel Lennie is set back by this and it can sometimes render him powerless not in a physically way but in a clear mental way. Candy is powerless in a physical way and that he doesn't have much purpose left in life and he realizes that. Crooks is also powerless in that he is discriminated against because of the color of his skin.

[George] heard Lennie’s whimpering cry and wheeled about. "Blubberin’ like a baby! Jesus Christ! A big guy like you!" Lennie’s lip quivered and tears started in his eyes. "Aw, Lennie!" George put his hand on Lennie’s shoulder. "I ain’t takin’ it away jus’ for meanness. That mouse ain’t fresh, Lennie; and besides, you’ve broke it pettin’ it. You get another mouse that’s fresh and I’ll let you keep it a little while." (1.76)

This quote explains how Lennie is clearly powerless despite his size and they portray him as if he were a baby.[Lennie] said gently, "George… I ain’t got mine. I musta lost it." He looked down at the ground in despair."You never had none, you crazy bastard. I got both of ‘em here. Think I’d let you carry your own work card?" Lennie grinned with relief. (1.22-24)

Then this quote shows how lennie is powerless and irresponsible and cannot take care of his own possessions and work card, George has to do it for him.

Another Literary Work

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Life As We Knew it shows powerlessness through the main character, Miranda, in that she cannot control the environment around her when a meteor strikes the moon and causes the environment to change, causing catastrophic casualties. Miranda and her family go through enormous struggles to make “normal” activities even possible since so many objects were unavailable. As the problems continued, the population kept decreasing to the point that people become powerless over every event in their lives, including their deaths as well.

“Here's the funny thing about the world coming to an end. Once it gets going, it doesn't seem to stop.” (pg. 120)


Powerless by Alex Gregg

"How can I explain

The impossibility of your complaint

The way it feels you pray to feel

Yet I pray you never feel this way

But to understand my pain

You would have to become

The thing that I am

You completely despise

My manipulation

And constant lies

I feel so powerless

So weak over drugs

One quick thought

Overpowers your love

With only thoughts of using

Urges that can't be tamed

But your not to blame

Powerless a feeling u pray to know

So u may know my pain

But no man should feel

Such pain that I do

Unless life's path

Has told u too

Out of love

U believe my lies

As bad as I want to be clean

I can't stop getting high"

“‘Why ain’t you wanted?’ Lennie asked. ‘’Cause I’m black. They play cards in there, but I can’t play because I’m black. They say I stink. Well, I tell you, you all of you stink to me’” (Page 68 Steinbeck).

This quote is showing how Crooks is powerless because of his skin color and that Lennie wouldn't understand unless he was African American too. While like in the poem it is talking about you don’t understand why a person is powerless unless you have walked a mile their shoes.

U.S. Historical Connection

The Great Depression

The powerlessness during the Great Depression is extremely obvious. The government was basically powerless over the economy and the needs of the country, and the people were powerless over their assets, income, jobs, family, homes, and almost everything in their lives.

Current Event Connection


The people aboard the planes with the terrorists and the civilians in the twin towers were all powerlessness. They didn't know any of this was happening and had no power and control to stop the planes really. Our country was completely powerless and in shock from the events.