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John Steinbeck was born in Salinas, California in 1902 and attended Stanford Universityintermittently between 1920 and 1926.

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Introduction

John Steinbeck was born in Salinas, California in 1902 and attended Stanford University intermittently between 1920 and 1926. Steinbeck did not graduate from Stanford but instead decided to support himself through manual labour while writing. His experiences among the working classes in California relate to his novels and the characters of his novels are the depiction of the lines of the workers. He spent most of his life in Monterey County which later was the setting of some of his fiction. Steinbeck's first novels were unsuccessful; he had his first success with 'tortilla flat' in 1935. In 1937 he had another successful book called 'of mice and men'. His crowning achievement 'grapes of wrath', won Steinbeck a Pulitzer Prize, a national book award. The novel I am going to discuss is 'Of Mice and Men'. This novel is set in the 1930s in America. These were very hard times due to the fact that the Depression was happening. There are lots of characters in this book; there are two main ones which are George and Lennie. George is a small, slender but intelligent and ambitious man whereas Lennie is a big-built, tall man but is mentally like a child. They have just been involved in an incident in Weed and are now going to find work at another ranch. They have a dream which people at this new ranch start to get involved with but it all goes terribly wrong. ...read more.

Middle

There is a point in the book where everyone has gone to town except Lennie, Candy Curley's wife and Crooks. Lennie goes to Crooks room and tries to be nice but straight away Crooks says "you got no right to come in my room", he is being protective because nobody has ever come in his room before apart from Slim and the Boss. Lennie doesn't understand racism so he just thinks of Crook as another man. Lennie starts to talk to Crook, which surprises him because it is so unusual. Eventually Crooks softens and allows Lennie into his room. Lennie starts to talk about George and their dream, Crooks then makes Lennie mad by suggesting that George won't come back but eventually Lennie calms down. Candy now comes in but he doesn't feel comfortable, Crooks starts to feel equal and even begins to think he could be involved in the dream. Well until Curley's wife interrupts and Crooks tells her to get out of his room. She replies "keep your place then, nigger. I could get you strung up on a tree so easy it isn't even funny. Even though she is low status because she is a woman, he is even lower because he is black. Anybody would take the other persons word over Crooks unless the other person was also black. This is because in the 1930s, there was lots of racism and sexism. Curley is another character in this novel. ...read more.

Conclusion

Also there are similarities between Candy's dog death and Lennie's death. Even though George has Lennie, he can still get lonely because he cannot have a proper conversation with Lennie as Lennie forgets most things and doesn't understand because he has the mentality of a child. All of the men and Curley's wife are lonely but George and Lennie are not as lonely as they have each other. Curley's wife and Crooks are the loneliest because they both have low status due to differences. I don't think that life could be different in the 1930s, they needed to travel around to find work otherwise they could not support themselves or any family they had. The paradox 'you have to be cruel to be kind' happens twice on the ranch, the first is when Candy's dog is shot, its cruel to shot a dog but you are being kind because you are stopping the dog from suffering, till it dies. The second is when George shoots Lennie, even though George doesn't want to Lennie can be shot or be locked up because he killed Curley's wife. Steinbeck is trying to make two points throughout the novel. The first is that in the 1930s things were very different white men were the highest class, then white women and lowest black people. In the 1930s there was a lot of racism and sexism, which we still have today but not as much. The second is that even the best well layed-out plans never go exactly accordingly to plan and most go completely wrong. Also Steinbeck shows us in this novel how lonely the people in the 1930s were. ...read more.

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