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Of Mice and Men' is a novel about misfits - people who can't find their niche in society. Discuss

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Introduction

English essay " 'Of Mice and Men' is a novel about misfits - people who can't find their niche in society". Discuss the above statement with reference to Lennie, Crooks, Candy and Curley's wife. The range of characters and their different personality traits are what colour Steinbeck's novel 'Of Mice and Men'. They are flawed with social inadequacies, whether these are physical or mental inhibits, they are shunned by society for being different. A disability can mark a person as appearing abnormal and irregular. In Lennie's case it is his mental immaturity and ungainly features, which sorts him as a social outcast. In the opening pages of the novel, the reader is introduced to Lennie. Steinbeck describes his features as 'shapeless' and refers to them in several instances as animal-like. "A huge man...with wide, sloping shoulders; and he walked heavily, dragging his feet a little the way a bear drags his paws." This description emphasizes Lennie's inhumanness in the eyes of society. The fact that he is not just likened to a bear, he is a bear reinforces this. His inhuman strength also results in him getting in trouble quite frequently, the reason for Lennie's and George's constant roaming from one ranch to the next. ...read more.

Middle

Just as Lennie and George are dependent on each other Candy and his dog also mirror the same trait. "Candy scratched his whiskers with his knuckles.... The dog grunted softly to himself and licked his grizzled, moth-eaten coat." The dog is described as being "a drag-footed old sheep-dog, grey of muzzle, and with pale, blind old eyes." Just as Candy must have been a solid worker before his accident, the dog is useless now he is old and lame. "That dog of Candy's is so God dam old he can't hardly walk. Stinks like hell too. Why'n't you get Candy to shoot his old dog and give him one of the pups to raise up." The notion of 'euthanasia' or once a person or animal has outlived its usefulness, so therefore must be 'got rid of' or 'put out of its misery', is a recurring theme in the novel. Candy's utmost fear is being fired or 'canned' and left without a source of employment or a place to live. Curley's wife is the only woman on the ranch and unlike the others, even Lennie, she seems not to understand her limitations - or she refuses to admit them. ...read more.

Conclusion

He is segregated from all the other workers on the ranch and has become defensive and protective of his rights but is also lonely because of this. As Lennie approaches Crooks in attempt to make friends, the stable-buck is sharp tongued and stern with him. Crooks says sharply: "You got no right to come in my room. This here's my room. Nobody got any right in here but me." Crooks is bitter, indignant, angry, and ultimately frustrated by his helplessness as the black man in a racist culture on the ranch. Wise and observant, he listens to Lennie's talk of the 'dream' of the farm with cynicism. Although tempted by Candy, Lennie, and George's plan to buy their own place, Crooks is constantly reminded (in this case by Curley's wife) that he is inferior to whites and, out of pride, he refuses to take part in their future farm. It has always been the case throughout history, where many groups of people have been the target of persecution by a much larger or more dominant group, often the common people. Among these groups are or were: blacks, the disabled, women, children, and the elderly. In the environment such as the ranch in Steinbeck's novel, these types of characters often have their own aspirations but are forced down by society and their lives are usually far from uncomplicated. 1216 ...read more.

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