Discrimination in Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men

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In the literary work Of Mice and Men, the reader is introduced to the ranch as a world of its own, within which prejudice plays a significant part. The characters in this novel act as a community in a world of their own, having no connections to any other type of society. A strong point, enforced through many examples in the book, is the constant ability of the stronger to overcome the weaker. The prejudices of the majority towards the minority, at the ranch are the white-males, who retain power over the lesser groups of people. This inequality, as well as the influence of the time period, causes discrimination against people of color, women, and those that are disabled, either mentally or physically.

The crippled, African American stable hand, Crooks, is the victim of racial discrimination on the ranch. He is given his own room off the stables as if a privilege, but in truth the white-male majority of the ranch wants to have as small an amount of contact with Crooks as possible. Crooks understands this, as is shown when he explains it to Lennie in a simple statement, ?They play cards in there, but I can?t play because I?m black. They say I stink.? (p. 33) As a result of this separation, Crooks becomes incredibly bitter and lonely. Through his request of having a part in George and Lennie?s dream, it becomes obvious that he searches for a friend, struggling to be recognized as a human being.

Curley?s wife is the typical example of discrimination based on misunderstanding. Because she is never given the chance to express her point of view, the men have a strong opinion on her based only on their interpretations of her actions. In the men?s opinion, she does not belong around the ranch, and should stay...

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... to share a farm with George and be allowed to tend the rabbits, and he does not seem to understand why people stand against him. Lennie?s failure to recognize his own strength unfortunately leads him to harm many living things, eventually Curly?s wife, which leads to his death by the hand of George, who only did what he thought was best.

The novel Of Mice and Men presents to us the unjust causes and painful results of discrimination. It clearly shows the loneliness of those that fall victim to the harsh judgement of others in the world of the ranch, as well as the way the strong overcome the weak. As in the world itself, the existance of the ranch hands is based on survival, and in this case, a dream had to be surrendered by George in order to survive. As Slim said in the end while comforting George, ?Never you mind. A guy got to sometimes.? (117)
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