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What do we learn about the lives of migrant workers from John Steinbeck's novel Of Mice and Men?

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Introduction

What do we learn about the lives of migrant workers from John Steinbeck's novel Of Mice and Men? John Steinbeck wrote the novel in 1936. He wanted to write about the difficulties millions of Americans were facing at this time. The book was set in the Salinas valley in California where Steinbeck was born. He had worked on a ranch when he was 19 and used his experiences in his writing. Of Mice and Men tells the story of the life for migrant workers during the American depression and how they lived. The two main characters in the story are Lennie Small and George who go looking for work together. The American Depression happened after the "Wall street crash". There was massive loss of confidence on the part of the millions of Americans who had invested on Wall Street. Instead of investing and spending, people now began to save. All over the U.S.A. people drew their money out of banks and kept it at home. Many banks collapsed as people withdrew their money and many companies went bankrupt as people stopped spending. ...read more.

Middle

This meant the workers would have to go looking for more work which was very hard to find. Once the migrant workers got their pay at the end of the month they would normally go and spend it at a "cat-house" or sleep in a hotel overnight. "No mess at all, and when the end of the month come, I could take my fifty bucks and go into town and get whatever I want. Why I could stay in a cat-house all night." George says this to Lennie while they are sitting at the brook. Everyone on the ranch had a dream of what they wanted to do. The most common dream was to own their own land. Curley's Wife had a dream that she wanted to be an actress and to be famous. We find out about this when Lennie is talking to Curley's wife in the barn. Curley's wife quotes "I met one of the actors. He says I could go with that show. But my ol' lady wouldn't let me. ...read more.

Conclusion

George and Lennie are poor homeless migrant workers, doomed to a life of wandering and toil in which they are never able to reap the fruits of their labour. Their desires may not seem so unfamiliar to any other human; a place of their own and the opportunity to work for themselves. George and Lennie desperately cling to the idea that they are different from other workers who drift from ranch to ranch because, unlike the others, they have a future and each other. But characters like Crooks and Curley's wife serve as reminders that George and Lennie are no different from anyone who wants something of his or her own. By killing Lennie, George eliminates a burden and a threat to his own life. Lennie, of course, never threatened George directly, but his actions endangered the life of George, who took responsibility for him. The tragedy is that George, in effect, is forced to shoot both his friend, who made him different from the other lonely workers, as well as his own dream and admit that it has failed Word count 1135 ...read more.

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