Common People in John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men

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Common People in John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men

John Steinbeck’s novels The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men reveal and confront the struggles of common individuals in their day-to-day lives. The Grapes of Wrath creates a greater verisimilitude than Of Mice and Men as it illustrates the lives of Oklahoma farmers driven west during the Dustbowl of the late 1930’s. Of Mice and Men deals with a more personal account of two poor men and the tragic ending of their relationship. Steinbeck expresses his concern for multiple social issues in both The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men. Tightly-knit relationships appear prominently in both books and provide the majority of the conflicts that occur. The decency of common people is written about to a great extent in The Grapes of Wrath and is also prevalent through numerous examples in Of Mice and Men. As in all effective writing that bares the soul of the author, each novel reveals Steinbeck’s core beliefs.

In Of Mice and Men, Steinbeck uses the relationship between George and Lenny to express the decency of common people. Lenny is mentally disabled and George is his companion because Lenny is too incompetent to live on his own. Throughout the book, it becomes increasingly apparent that Lenny is incapable of interacting appropriately with people (other than George) without unknowingly causing some sort of trouble. Even George is sometimes overcome with the hassles of taking care of Lenny.

‘“God, you’re a lot of trouble,’ George said. ‘I could get along so easy so nice if I didn’t have you on my tail. I could live so easy and maybe have a girl”’ (7). Yet, George looks beyond the ways in which Lenny irritates and inconveniences him and realizes that Lenny is as human as he is. He believes that regardless of Lenny’s disability, he should be treated as respectfully as anyone else. Contrary to his earlier remarks, George has great affinity for Lenny. George understands that Lenny necessitates a watchful-eye, and he is willing to be that caretaker. Ultimately, if George did not love and care about Lenny, he would have most likely abandoned him. However, George’s fundamental decency did not allow him to do this.

In The Grapes of Wrath, the overall struggle of the Okies, while on their mass exodus to

California, is Steinbeck’s platform to examine human beings’ innate goodwill.
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