Of Mice and Men - Life in America in the 1930's…

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Of Mice and Men – Life in America in the 1930’s…

“Of mice and men” by John Steinbeck tells the story of life in 1930’s America during the great depression, about the dreams, lifestyle, racism and sexism, which had become a way of life for the characters in Steinbeck’s book. I will be discussing these points to determine exactly what life in 1930’s American was like.

Life in 1930’s America was very lonely, George tells us that "...guys like us...are the loneliest guys in the world. They got no family. They don't belong no place...". Many of the other ranch hands share the same feeling. This is also made apparent by the fact that most people think that there has to be something wrong if two men travel together because nobody takes that much care of somebody else, Slim’s comment to this is “… I never seen one guy take so much trouble for another guy…” George and Lennie’s new boss is also suspicious, he asks George, referring to Lennie, “…what stake you got in this guy?…” George feels he has to lie and tells the boss that Lennie is “ …my…Cousin…”. The other ranch hands don’t interact with each other this is shown when Candy says to George “…a guy on the ranch don’t never listen nor he don’t ask no questions…” this quote emphasises how private the menn keep their lives. Slim is an exception to this as he is always willing to talk if others wish to. However many of the others, despite their urge to talk, seem to be less inviting or trustworthy. George and Lennie seem to be an exception to this general life. They “…got somebody to talk to that gives a damn…” Slim describes what living on a ranch does to a man and really how lonely it is that “…they get mean… they get so they don’t want to talk to anybody…”. The average ranch hand gets “… fifty bucks…” they “..go in old susy’s place… you can get a shot for two bits…” they describe this as “… jus’ the usual thing…” and George describes how most ranch hands are constantly moving from ranch to ranch “…they come to a ranch an’ work up a stake and then they go into town and blow their stake, and the first thing you know they’re poundin’ their tail on some other ranch…”. The conditions in which the migrant workers lived were primitive. Bunkhouse walls were whitewashed, the floor unpainted. There were eight bunks in the bunkhouse, which showed that there was a lack of privacy for the men. Even their few personal belongings were on public display "...over each bunk there was nailed an apple-box with the opening forward so that it made two shelves...". The only places for the men to sit were boxes. George saw that the conditions were also unhygienic when he found a can in his apple-box which said "...positively kills lice, roaches and other scourges...". The life style in 1930’s America was not one of luxury, it was full of hard times, low wages and little opportunity.

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Crooks the Stable buck dreams about going back to a world much like his childhood, without prejudice. Many of the men on the ranch are very racist, including the boss, even though the boss is described as a ”pretty nice guy” he “give the stable buck hell”. An example of racial prejudice is when Carlson casually refers to the stable buck as a "...nigger...". George does not react to this reference, which shows that it is a commonly used word. Also the prejudice against coloured people is again shown as the stable buck, who is a coloured man, is ...

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An exploration of this text alongside the social and historical factors that influenced the writing is a very good topic to investigate. This essay shows a good understanding of the novel and the characters but there are times when the points could be better linked to the context and the essay title. 4 Stars