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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?

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Introduction

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.

Middle

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.

Conclusion

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.

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