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The Great Depression in "Of Mice and Men".

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Introduction

During this essay I will be writing about 1930?s America and the affects it had on the characters in John Steinbeck?s novella- ?Of Mice and Men.? A main event that triggered the novella was the Great Depression which struck America at around this time, leaving behind social, cultural and historical events that affected everyone in completely different, yet similar ways. I will be basing most of my thoughts on this time around Part 4 of the novella, featuring different aspects of the topics: society, history and culture. The novella features many issues of 1930?s America, including racism, sexism, ageism and a large lack of sentimentality. These are all displayed through the behaviours of the characters in the book in different ways. Also there is a main theme linking in with the Great Depression called the ?American Dream?, which many people though that one day they would achieve despite the lack of money throughout America. Many of the characters have a very cynical outlook on this dream for example Crooks, the stable buck who suffers racism, featured very heavily in Part 4. However the main characters George and Lennie believe that they can accomplish this dream if they stay together. In the bulk of the story we grasp a feel for humanity as despite the lack of money, and the fact that times are hard so many men would go solo and lose all trust in other men, we still see an air of friendship through the main characters George and Lennie. As well as being about the difficult times of America in the 30?s and how people coped, the story is also majorly about friendship, and how people are sociable animals, and need friendship and company to stay sane. As we progress through the story we see how these friendships are torn apart as ranch life isn?t the life for friends, for example, a character Candy and his dog are split up through lack of sentimentality, Curley and his wife realise they don?t love each other and eventually George and Lennie realise that fate is forever going to be against them. ...read more.

Middle

She is also insulted when Crooks says ? you aint got no rights comin? in a black man?s room. You got no rights messing around in here at all. Now you get out and get out quick. If you don?t, I?m gonna ast the boss not to ever let you come in the barn no more.? Along with the thought of what Curley?s wife could do, she also puts Crooks in his place by saying a bitter and cold-hearted sentence, filled with hatred towards him, using his race and her position in social hierarchy fully against him. Firstly she says ?shut your mouth nigger you know what I can do,? starting off the racism. She then goes onto say ?I could get you strung up from a tree so easy it aint even funny.? As well as realising it himself, this also helps Crooks to realise that he is never going to be able to live on a farm with Candy, George and Lennie as she puts him down completely. This is the point in the book where I for one lost all respect and sorrow for this lonely woman, and realised her true feelings against an innocent man, and what she will resort to when she doesn?t get what she wants. Though we shouldn?t feel sorry for her anymore, we can see why Curley?s wife is so bitter, as she has said in many parts of the novella ?he aint a nice fella?, referring to her husband. He may put her down for being a woman, and make her feel low. Being alone with just Crooks, Candy and Lennie may have given her a chance to get back at the position she is in, in society and give her the chance to feel better about herself. Although two completely different characters, Crooks and Curley?s wife share similarities that show throughout part 4. For example they are both low down in social hierarchy as Curley?s wife is a woman and Crooks is black. ...read more.

Conclusion

Moving on from Crooks, Curley?s wife is also described in a way that says a lot about her visual appearance, showing that she probably cares more about what she looks like on the outside than what she is like on the inside. ?She has full, rouged lips and wide-spaced eyes, heavily made sup. Her fingernails were red. Her hair hung in little rolled clusters, like sausages. She wore a cotton house dress and red mules, on the insteps of which were little bouquets of red ostrich feathers.? No match for ranch life, Curley?s wife enters the book also majorly in part four, displaying her unimportance. She makes a storm as she gives the unforgivable comment to Crooks, showing that she is not only heavily made up on the outside, but also heavily made up on the inside, in that she thinks she is better than him, and almost big headed. To conclude, I feel that the novella truly did show the hardship of the 1930?s, and what these men went through. The social + historical context, character description, language, themes and structure all piece together to make an unforgettably moving novella. I feel that the parallels through the book e.g. the book starting with life on the Salinas river, then ending with death in the same place, the parallels through George killing Lennie as he is a true friend who truly cares about him and wants the best for him. I feel that Crooks and Curley?s wife did say unforgivingly nasty things to others, however, given the times, probably didn?t mean a word of it, and were both trying to prove their status, showing that where you are in social hierarchy was very important to them as it was probably all they had left. I do sympathise for them as they are, like everyone else, in need of company. Overall, taking the title into account, no matter how big or small you are, fate is always against you. ...read more.

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