Truths Exposed in John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men

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Truths Exposed in Of Mice and Men

John Steinbeck's timeless novel Of Mice and Men is a somewhat controversial story of the hardships of life. To illustrate these hardships, Steinbeck takes the reader back to an era of bankruptcies, migrant workers, and drifters. Today, this time, the 1930's, is branded the Great Depression. The quest of George and Lennie, two migrant workers, is an example of the dilemma of thousands of homeless and unemployed men in America during the Great Depression era (Ito 39). The harsh circumstances presented by the Great Depression reveal a darker side of human nature. In order to survive, a man's priority had to be himself. Through his characters, Steinbeck exposes truths about people and life in general.

Through the character of Curley, Steinbeck mocks the insecurity that can develop in a person. This primary flaw in Curley displays a basic flaw of humanity. Howard Levant reiterates this point in saying, "The central theme is stated and restated - the good life is impossible because humanity is flawed" (Owens 146). Candy, an old swamper, tells George, "Curley's like a lot of little guys. He hates big guys. He's alla time picking scraps with big guys. Kind of like he's mad at 'em because he ain't a big guy" (Steinbeck 26). This insecurity is articulated through Curley's abhorrence for men bigger than he, or often men in general. Curley also relentlessly worries about the activities of his wife, which reemphasizes his apparent lack of self-confidence. He further demonstrates his diffidence by his frequent ganging up on Lennie. Curley shows this when he picks a fight with Lennie. Curley asks, "What the hell you laughin' at?" (Steinbeck 62). Not only was Lennie an immense man, but he ...

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...s novel causes the characters to act to some extent selfishly, looking out for their own good. It would be wrong to blame them though. In the Depression Era world that Steinbeck recreates, this live and let die attitude was often the only way to endure. The point of the novel, however, is not who is right or wrong. The point is that, by the conclusion of the novel, everyone loses. Though it is often easier to fulfill one's basic needs on his or her own, in the long run, interaction with others is an essential part of human nature.

Works Cited

Ito, Tom. The Importance of John Steinbeck. San Diego: Lucent Books, 1994.

Owens, Louis. "Of Mice and Men: The Dream of Commitment." Modern Critical Views on John Steinbeck. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1987. 145 - 149.

Steinbeck, John. Of Mice and Men. New York: Penguin Group, 1993.
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