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Analyse the presentation of Crooks in "Of Mice and Men". Comment on how this helps to create a realistic picture of 1930's California

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Introduction

Analyse the presentation of Crooks in "Of Mice and Men". Comment on how this helps to create a realistic picture of 1930's California John Steinbeck's "Of mice and men" was written in the 1930's, a time of great depression throughout the world. It was a time when racism was still widespread in America. It is based on a ranch in California. In the story Crooks is the only black person on the ranch. Crooks is disabled, with a crooked back where "a horse once kicked him". It describes him as having "pain tightened lips" because of this. He is also described as being "a proud aloof man". He is shown to be an educated man through the fact that he owns a dictionary and tries to research what rights he does have by using his "mauled copy of the California civil code for 1905." The fact that Steinbeck uses the word mauled infers that it was used a great deal. In the story, Crooks was treated with little respect. He acts like he wants no real contact with the white workers on the ranch by "keeping his distance and demanding that other people kept theirs". ...read more.

Middle

He sees the light from Crooks' little hut which is built into the barn. He stumbles in and Crooks acts like Lennie is unwanted - "Crooks scowled but Lennie's disarming smile defeated him." I think that he actually thought about it and realised that he could do with some company. Steinbeck uses Lennie's character to 'accidentally' stumble upon him because Lennie does not understand the political views of the world at that time, so he walks right in and talks to him the right way, treating him with respect, as he would anyone else. Crooks then settles down a bit and pours out what seems to be his entire life story to Lennie, now he finally has someone to talk to. He tells him about his life before working on the ranch. He speaks of the fact he was happy before, and says that his father had a chicken ranch. Maybe this meant he would prefer to be back there, missing his relatives who he knows would treat him as an equal. He also talks about that he used to play with the local white kids and that his "ol' man did not like that". ...read more.

Conclusion

Crooks is then taken in by the dream to the extent that he forgot his place. For a moment he seems as brave as any man. He stood up to Curley's wife and demands her to leave - "You ain't got no rights comin' in a coloured man's room...Now you just get out." Curley's wife then threatens him: "You keep your place Nigger. I could get you strung up on a tree so easy it wouldn't even be funny." The reality then hits him. His dreams shattered. He then remembers his place, at the bottom of society. "Crooks had reduced himself to nothing. There was no personality, no ego - nothing to arouse either like or dislike." Being threatened like this pushes him back down to earth, and he realises that she is right. She could easily get him lynched if she wanted to. I think that overall Steinbeck succeeds in creating a roughly realistic picture of the general attitudes towards racism in the 1930's. He creates a convincing character in Crooks that makes you think of the ethics behind racism overall. Why does it happen? Why are people different on the outside any different on the inside? I think that Steinbeck's intentions were to present these and other questions to the reader and make them think about the reasoning behind traditional racist attitudes. ...read more.

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