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Prejudice Within The Novel Of Mice And Men.

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Introduction

Everywhere you look there is prejudice, you may be the wrong colour, worship the wrong God or wear the wrong thing. No one fits into our idealistic world perfectly. This prejudice has been around for thousands of years because it is just human nature not to accept people for who they are. In Of Mice And Men, there are several different levels of prejudice shown, all contributing to the failure of the American dream. The main types of prejudice shown in this novel are racial, sexual and discrimination against people with physical or mental disabilities. John Steinbeck wrote this novel with a variety of different themes in mind. One of the main themes that is particularly emphasised is prejudice. Specific forms of prejudice, such as sexism and racism were especially predominant during the period of time in which the novel was set. This essay intends to study the different forms of prejudice mentioned in the novel in greater detail looking at why it happened and which particular characters were targeted. The first form of prejudice I will be focusing on is racism. Racism, the definition being prejudice or animosity against other races, was wholly focused on the only black character in the book - Crooks. The novel, set in the 1930's, displays just what level racism was on and how the victims were abused both physically and mentally. This theme within the novel, ties in with how blacks were treated during that time and how there was great oppression against blacks by whites for centuries. Crooks, the black stable-buck is treated with disrespect throughout the novel. The term "nigger" which is thought to be highly impertinent to someone is used many times during the novel with no regard to its actual meaning. They treat Crooks as a human punchbag having no consideration of how they make him feel. This is supported by the quotation "...They let the nigger come in that night. ...read more.

Middle

Curley's wife also experiences sexual prejudice in that none of the ranch hands will talk to her. This is partly because she can make up things about those she dislikes who will subsequently get 'the can' and also because she is a 'looloo' with a very flirtatious nature. "She got the eye goin' all the time on everybody. I bet she even gives the stable buck they eye. I don't know what the hell she wants," says Whit. The ranch hands do not trust her or understand her. George says "Ranch with a bunch of guys on it ain't no place for a girl, specially like her." An old lover told her that she "coulda went with the shows, not jus one neither." He promised her that he would write "Soon's he got back to Hollywood," but he never did and so she married Curley. Because of this, she is dissatisfied and feels she has been deprived by life. In fact she does not even like Curley "He ain't a nice fella", she says. Because she has nothing to do but sit at home, she goes out on the ranch under the pretence of looking for Curley. Some of the sexual prejudice she experiences is her fault, she scares the ranch hands with her femininity but she is not really a tart, she just craves attention, which she does not get from Curley. Ignored by both the ranch hands and Curley she has ended up very lonely, the one thing she most wanted to escape. Sexism is shown towards her by the way Curley sees her a trophy wife rather than someone he treasure and loves. This is particularly highlighted when Curley's wife dies and instead of her husbands reaction being that of sorrow and sadness, it is that of anger towards Lennie - " I know who done it...That big son-of-a-bitch done it...I'm gonna get him...I'll kill the big son-of-a-bitch." ...read more.

Conclusion

Through these prejudices, the characters such as Crooks and Curley's wife have become intensely lonely but they are in hopeless position which they can do nothing about. These prejudices can still be seen in the world today. Steinbeck used these different forms of prejudice to get the message across of how conditions were for certain people and the reality of how they were made to suffer. The theme of prejudice links on to other major themes in the novel such as loneliness - with Crooks and Candy, and friendship - the main friendship being of course between George and Lennie. In a way, all of the characters are prejudiced in some way or another. They either are a victim of prejudice or are prejudice to others, in some cases both such as Candy who is a victim of ageism and physical discrimination but then is more than willing to be rude to Crooks because of his race. I think that the novel was very well written to establish the feelings of those who were victims of prejudice and maybe an indication that society must change the way they behave towards black people. As Steinbeck had the power to decide the fate of the characters, this could be implying that society have the power to decide that fate of black people, women and people with disabilities. A common feature of this novel was for Steinbeck to portray mentally or emotionally impaired individuals in a sympathetic way and to combine this with a detached writing style from which, as readers, can ascribe a firm moral message. Hence, most of the character in the novel, such as Crooks, Lennie and Candy, are depicted favourably by the author. I think that the theme of prejudice is the most important theme in the novel; mainly because it was so relevant to the time it was set it and contained a moral dilemma of whether society should change its behaviour. This may have been purposefully done by Steinbeck or simply left to the imagination of the reader. ...read more.

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