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Steinbeck is interested in the ways hardship and suffering human character. Discuss how this is portrayed in “Of Mice And Men”

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Introduction

Steinbeck is interested in the ways hardship and suffering human character. Discuss how this is portrayed in "Of Mice And Men" "Of Mice and Men" is a novel very much affected by the time in which its author lived. Steinbeck wrote and set "Of Mice And Men" in a time of great economic change in America, when the country's 125,000 'threshers' (men who harvested grain- California's major product) were slowly being replaced for the new and more efficient form of harvesting-mechanical combines. The Wall Street Crash in 1929 heralded the start of the Great Depression that swept America in the 1930's, and the consequences of this on farming was compacted and increased with the famous 'dust bowl' crisis, forcing many farmers into poverty and immense debt. Migrant farm workers such as Lennie and George fuelled and made possible the intensive farming economy. They travelled many miles by foot or other cheap forms of transportation for a temporary job that would pay enough to survive on, only to be told to leave when they were no longer needed. ...read more.

Middle

forced to become their priority renders them unable to feel much pity or empathy for anyone or anything, turning them inwards and embittered towards a world which hasn't treated them well. They all live an existence in which every day is taken as it comes, each one matters in the fight for survival. They do not think in the long term, they spend the small wages they receive as soon as they can in taverns and whore-houses, they do not have dreams of the future. Loneliness effects some characters in other ways. For example, Curley's wife lives a life rivalling and arguably, exceeding the worker's in isolation and loneliness. She has entered into a loveless and -the suggestion is- brutal marriage on a ranch full of wary, frightened and suspicious men with no-one to talk to, no love or tenderness, no prospect of change or escape from it. Unlike the men, she also has no motivation to survive. ...read more.

Conclusion

It could be argued that George is also less affected, as his friendship with Lennie saves him from turning totally inward. Lennie's friendship and care stop George from becoming like the other ranch workers, as he has to think about Lennie's well being in addition to his own. George and Lennie's relationship is almost more like that of a parent and child than of friends, and George has to look after Lennie, therefore George thinks about someone other than himself. So far his relationship has had its downsides, because as this isn't a normal friendship and Lennie is less capable mentally, Lennie keeps getting George into trouble. This proves that George needs to become isolated, lonely and inward as the others if he wants to be able successfully to survive. The conditions of the workers affect them in sad, terrible ways, yet it's interesting that they actually need to be behave in this way if they want to survive. There is a strange need for loneliness and isolation, and this is how loneliness effects George and ultimately, George and Lennie's friendship. ...read more.

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