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English - Of Mice and Men

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Introduction

From what you have read in 'Of Mice and Men', what have you learned about life in 1930s America? In this coursework I have learnt about America in the 1920s-1930s from reading Of Mice and Men. Of Mice and Men is a book written by John Steinbeck which revolves around certain themes such as racism, sexism but in particular the main theme; The American Dream. Two migrant field workers in California during the Great Depression come to a ranch near Soledad to find work. They hope to achieve one day a dream of settling down and owning their own farm. Steinbeck also conveys the life on ranches and what it would be like to live in the Great Depression. The Great Depression was a era in which the economy in the United States and throughout the world was extremely bad. It began with the Wall Street Crash of 1929 as the prices on the stock market fell dramatically in just five days. Many people lost their jobs and atleast a third of America was unemployed People became homeless and poor, and resorted to more manual jobs such as farming and labourers. People from the southern states immigrated to California as the soil was more long-lasting due to the longer growing season and farmers bought more land to keep up with income so they required more labourers. Steinbeck lived near the setting of the location and also worked as labourer showing experience in this life style which may reflect upon validates of the story and if it really were fictional. The Great Depression was a tough time for America's economy. This caused relationships to collapse because of blunt gestures and signs such as 'no help wanted' to people who were once friends. This is perhaps why George and Lennie's friendship, and indeed their travelling together, was so unusual. Future plans changed because couples declared marriage rapidly as they could not afford to live separately. This explains the concept of Curley and his wife's marriage. ...read more.

Middle

The reader holds some bit of sympathy for Curley's wife. 'Think I don't like to talk to someone ever' once in a while' The reader feels sorry for her and thinks maybe she tries to grab the men's attention because she wants someone to talk to because she is the only woman on the ranch so really has no other company than the men themselves. On the other hand, the reader sees a different side to Curley's wife. 'An' what am I doin'? Standin' here talking to a bunch of bindle stiffs- a nigger an' a dum-dum and a lousy ol' sheep- an likin it because they ain't no body else' She has just become really nasty, because they don't talk to her like they are meant to or look at the way she wants to be looked at, Lennie does, but he does have mentality problems. Crooks is a 'nigger' so there is really nothing that she wants from him, not even a few words that could help them talk, not even him looking at her in the way she wants men to. Candy is an old men, who she really wants nothing to do with. 'Listen nigger you know what I can do if I open your trap.' She just becomes really racist because she was asked to go away. She threatens to accuse him of doing stuff he shouldn't have, the consequence is that he would be lynched and burnt alive on a tree. On the other hand 'open trap' would also refer to her because of her personality and her attitude towards other people. Curley's wife is shown a lonely person who has no one to talk to, which makes the reader feel sorry for her, and the way she gets treated by others, but then her reaction towards her loneliness if no better than how she gets treated. She is very picky about who she talks to, she is very rude towards people who are 'bindle stiffs.' ...read more.

Conclusion

The relationship between Lennie and George was unique as they were both brought together by their selflessness and their need for each other. Also they differed from the other ranchmen; they stuck with each other during a time of great misery and lonesomeness when others generally kept themselves apart. This novel demonstrates how people who lived during the Great Depression were treated in society. Curley is a good example of an individual who isn't financially affected by the Great Depression due to his father's wealth. Other ranch hands who work for his father may not be financially stable and have to work for everything that they have. Curley also feels like he is a cut above the rest of the people who work for his father. George and Lennie are very good examples of people who have lost everything and must work very had and do things that they may not want to do in order to gain back what they have lost and chase the American dream and start their own ranch. So as you can see, Steinbeck has been able to get across the point of how the attitudes and actions of people were during the Great Depression. We can also learn that people had hope at that time and pursued their dreams in search of prosperity. Life was hard and people did what they had to do to survive, if it meant marrying men you never intended to or migrated from farm to farm for just a few dollars a week. I have also learnt that it wasn't much different from today either as women still are considered the inferior sex and racism is also still very much a cancer to society today. At the end of the novel, we are left with an understanding that people had to do things to survive that they may not have wanted to do and that was very hard for them to do, in George's case this would have been to shoot Lennie. ...read more.

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