• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

How do the lives and dreams of John Steinbeck's characters in "of Mice and Men" represent the history and culture of America in the nineteen thirties?

Extracts from this document...


Task: How do the lives and dreams of John Steinbeck's characters in "of Mice and Men" represent the history and culture of America in the nineteen thirties? Of Mice and Men is a novel by John Steinbeck, first published in 1937, which tells the tragic story of George and Lennie, two displaced migrant farm workers in California during the Great Depression. Steinbeck tells us about the trials and tribulations the people of nineteen thirties America went through, George, Lennie, Crooks and Curley's Wife are all examples of them. The story revolves around George and Lennie, two itinerant workers who strive in vain to fulfil their dream of having a place of their own. Crooks on the other hand is a lonely, black man whose dream of equality is lost in the segregation of nineteen thirties America. During the depression many people hoped for a better life, Curley's wife is no different; she dreams of Hollywood, but is stuck in a sexist world were she can never reach that dream due to the domination of the male sex and her husband Curley, in particular. All these characters are stereotypes of potential outcasts, and tells us a lot about nineteen thirties America. America was in a poor state during the Great Depression. ...read more.


The reality of Crooks' life is that he is a black man living in a white, racist world, where he is the victim of prejudice. Crooks is an educated man who breaks the stereotype of the racist. Alone on the ranch howver, he is a vulnerable target. The threat issued by Curley's Wife holds weight and "reduces Crooks to nothing". He knows that the word of a white woman would be believed over that of a black man. He knows that she could get him hanged. The activity of the Ku Klux Klan and the mass racism of the nineteen thirties have stripped away Crooks' rights. The racism was so bad; that the term "nigger" is commonly used as a name for Crooks, even by ranch hands who admit to liking him. Much like the migrant worker, Crooks suffers from loneliness and keeps adult magazines as a substitute for a whore, as he is unable to have sex with a white prostitute due to segregation. Crooks tries to explain his loneliness to Lennie, "S'pose you didn't have nobody, s'pose you couldn't go into the bunk house"(pg72) He wants to be equal; he is a proud man and wants Lennie to know he "ain't no southern negro". He uses the dream as a comforter and, just like the migrant workers, remembers better times of when he was young on his "old man's chicken ranch". ...read more.


Steinbeck makes us feel very sympathetic for Curley's Wife and gives her a "quiet", "peaceful" death. "And the meanness and the planning's and the discontent and the ache for attention were all gone from her face."(pg 91) Her dream of becoming a movie star may not have been fulfilled, but in the end she finds peace, and the kind of death an actress might have been proud of. Steinbeck describes her as beautiful. To summarise, "Of Mice and Men" represents all that was wrong in America during the nineteen thirties. The life of the migrant worker is portrayed through George and Lennie. Crooks represents black America and Curley's Wife, women. Not only are these people's lives explained, but their dreams and ambitions are also revealed. America promised a lot to many people during the depression. Poverty, loneliness, racism and sexism were all widespread in these harsh times, which only added to the severity of the situation. Ultimately these potential outcasts find sanctuary with each other; Curley's Wife and Crooks bond, however briefly, with Lennie, while George and Lennie always have each other. We cannot help but wonder if they have been chasing the right dream. They already had what everybody else really wanted; companionship. WORD COUNT: 1248ollyo ?? ?? ?? ?? Suhail Patel Page 1 of 4 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE John Steinbeck section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE John Steinbeck essays

  1. Explore John Steinbeck's presentation in Of Mice and Men of the culture and experience ...

    None-the-less the expansive setting - distant mountains, a free flowing river, and the natural wildlife contrasts with the enclosed bunkhouse where the men are trapped. Steinbeck does this to show the predictability of existence; the cynical lives that they lived and worked in.

  2. Why I think Candy was added by John Steinbeck to his book

    Lennie tells the bits that he knows like a child would do. They work at ranches because they have no money, and to accomplish their dream they need to have enough money to buy the land. They have no money because of the depression and to a certain extent because of Lennie.

  1. How Does Steinbeck present the culture of the migrant worker on "Of Mice and ...

    They would prefer to have real girlfriends but they can't as they are victims of their circumstances. The brothels to them were home substitutes where they could interact socially as you would in a house, sit, talk and generally relax.

  2. Of Mice and Men: Compare 'The American Dream' with the real lives of the ...

    Although the dream doesn't last very long with him, Crooks shows some hope as he offers his services on the farm and says thing "dreamily". Although, he returns to being defensive when the dream is squashed and becomes "scornful". Crooks is oppressed, like his feelings.

  1. Compare the American Dream with the real lives of the migrant workers in the ...

    get a job. George and Lennie's American Dream was to get "...a little house and a couple of acres and a cow and some pigs..." (Page 32), so they would be able to live on their own, have their own ranch and "...live off the fatta the lan'..."

  2. "Of Mice and Men" - outlining some of the themes that relate to the ...

    He even let Slim give him orders: "Me an' you'll go in an' get a drink". So George was "helped" to his feet and "led" up the highway. He allowed Slim to guide him, because he was drained of happiness, filled with shock, and knew that he couldn't handle trouble anymore, without Lennie.

  1. Describe the Dreams of the Characters in "Of Mice & Men".

    recognised at the time of the ?American Depression? as people would have considered Lennie as strange. In-addition the dream for Lennie petting ?furry rabbits? on his own farm will provide contentment and security for him. Despite his innocence, Lennie is still capable of great violence.

  2. With close attention to the linguistic, grammatical and structural features of Of Mice and ...

    The water is 'warm' which represents hope, where people want a life of ease and relax so they can choose, instead of the ranch owner, when they want to work. The 'twinkling' sands and 'golden' slopes resemble the wealth of which the people who believe in the dream yearn for so they wouldn't have to worry about shortage.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work