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

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Introduction

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.

Middle

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.

Conclusion

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.

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