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

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

Extracts from this document...


How Does Steinbeck present the culture of the migrant worker on "Of Mice and Men" Of Mice and Men is a novel written in 1937 by an author called John Steinbeck, a rising novelist after other successes as "Tortilla Flat" and "Dubious Battle". The focus of these books as well as "Of Mice and Men" is of the migrant workers. "Of Mice and Men" is set during the height of the great depression where unemployment and widespread droughts had forced thousands of workers on to the road in search of work, moving from ranch to ranch harvesting the crops and moving on again. This is the exact situation that two of the novels main characters are in, Lennie and George. Despite there being so many, the migrant workers share similar characteristics. As the name might suggest, migrant workers migrated around the country in search of work on ranches. When all of this work had been done and all of the crop planted and harvested, they would move on. Workers would get work by going into employment offices and getting a little slip. We know this when George said "They give us work cards". Moving around a lot meant that the migrant workers could not hold down friendships. Leading them to become selfish and self-centered. But George and Lennie's situation is different. ...read more.


This loneliness has an unwanted knock on effect on the migrant workers in "of mice and men". It propels them to be slfish, self-centered and paranoid. We can see an example of this when Carlson wants to shoot Candy's dog who he is emotionally attached to, because Carlson believes it smells. "Why'n't you shoot him, Candy". The migrant workers are like this because for nearly all of their life, they have had to look out for one person: themselves. Another characteristic of the migrant workers in "Of mice and men" is that they all seem to lack any real job satisfaction. A prime example of this is when George says to Slim "I'd be bringin' in my own crops, 'stead of dion' all the work and not getting what come outta the ground". Some reasons for a lack of job satisfaction include perhaps getting bored. Or maybe because they workers never saw and keep the resulting crops of all of their hard work. Exploitation may also be a reason for a lack of job satisfaction. There is clear evidence to show that migrant workers of the time were being exploited. For example, Crooks had to sleep on his own and was referred to as a "nigger". Simply because he was black. "I ain't wanted in your house". The characters portrayed by Steinbeck are not portrayed a racist intentionally, it is because that was the general attitude at the time. ...read more.


John Steinbeck uses language to his advantage in "Of mice and men". One of the things that he is most famed for doing is setting the scene with lavishings of colours. An example of this is right at the beginning of the novel when he describes the area where George and Lennie are walking into. "green", "yellow sands", "golden foothills" and "little grey". He uses this type of descriptive language in between sections and high intensity scenes. The forceful actions of the characters break up the gentle scenery descriptions. He also uses this description to give the reader an authentic feel of America at the time of the novel. He also creates a good atmosphere by using authentic dialect and speech. Some examples of dialect characteristics in "Of mice and men" and America of the period are dialectal phrases "roll up a stake" or saving up money. Non-standard grammar "well I wasn't hurtin 'em none" which translates to I was not hurting them, abbreviations "Sat'day" instead of Saturday and non-standard spelling, "Gotta" instead of got a. The spellings are in place to reflect the accent of the migrant workers of the period, adding authenticity. Overall, Steinbeck presents the culture of the migrant worker as being lonely, which leads them to become paranoid and selfish as victims of their own circumstances. Mainly all that keeps them going are their dreams. Opposed by the cynical nature of the story. Steinbeck displays this with great description and dialect of the time. ...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. Compare the American dream with the reality of a migrant worker in Steinbeck's Of ...

    Real life items are used like the pulp magazine. Steinbeck uses dialect and colloquial language, which helps to add to the realism of the story. For example 'Awright,' he said brusquely. 'Gi'me that mouse!' says George Milton. The purpose of this essay is to compare the migrant workers real life with their dream.

  2. Of Mice and Men

    Not only is Slim kind and friendly to his fellow labourers, we also see him exchange friendly words with Curley's wife. He seems to be the only one who realises that Curley's wife may not simply be a 'tart', she may merely be lonely.

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

    This is another indication of respect shown by everyone. Slim is also different from all the other men; not only because he believes in a different dream but also because of the way he is. We're told, "his slow speech had overtones not of thought, but of understanding beyond thought."

  2. Compare the American dream with the reality of a migrant worker (Steinbecks - Of ...

    George and Lennie represent any migrant of their time. Their dream is to save up enough 'stake' money to buy their own small ranch, thereby escaping from the poverty, insecurity and inevitable loneliness of the life of a migrant worker. George and Lennie see themselves different from other migrants.

  1. Of Mice and Men

    Before she leaves she notices the bruises on Lennie's face and realizes what really happened to Curley's hand. Crooks tries to make her leave, but she is undaunted, threatening to hang him if he acts up against her, at which Crooks retreats to his servile self.

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

    and Candy a 'lousy old sheep' (2). Curly's Wife gets along with the men on their own, flirting with them and chatting with them, but when they are together she finds them defensive and competitive. She believes she knows everything there is to know about men, their weaknesses for drink

  1. A breakdown of Steinbeck's 'Of mice and Men'.

    Curley's wife scoffs at Candy's indignation and doubts what he says: "If you had two bits in the worl', why you'd be in gettin' two shots of corn with it and suckin' the bottom of the glass" (87). Candy controls his temper and orders Curley's wife to leave, telling her that she's not wanted.

  2. How does Steinbeck present the culture of the migrant worker in the novel?

    Candy is characterised as being old and useless -the one who they use and Crooks is the lonely and isolated one. We come to know that Crooks feels lonely when he says "books ain't no good a guy needs somebody to be near him".

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