Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

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Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

The novel “of mice and men” is based on broken dreams. This book was
written about the 1930’s when slavery has just been abolished. This
book is also about the discrimination of women, so not only black
people were treated unfair but also women were. In the 1930’s the men
were in charge of their wives. Staeinbeck attracts the reader’s
interest by exploring different kinds of themes. It is obvious that
these themes are primarily negative, for example loneliness and
isolation, broken dreams, prejudice and outcast, exploitation, victims
of the time and insecurity. All of these themes give the impression
that this book is about sadness and loneliness. Steinbeck uses
characters to explore these themes such as Crooks and Curley’s wife.

Everyone has dreams. Dreams are very powerful and are strong desires
that in the novel are most of the time very fragile. Curley’s wife has
a dream to become a movie star and make something of her self from
when she was 15. An actor made her believe that she could be a great
movie star ‘he says I could go with that show.’ – the actor had
flirted with her instead of being honest with her but being the
teenage-believe-in-anything-kind-of-girl, she fell for it. He was only
taking advantage of her looks and her naivety. The first time that
Curley’s wife was introduced to us in the book, Steinbeck focused on
her appearance. She dressed and looked like she wanted to be a movie
star, she had ‘full rouged lips’, ‘ heavily made up eyes’, ‘her
fingernails were red’, ‘cotton house dress and red mules’. It can be
clearly seen that Steinbeck describes her in an almost exaggerated
manner to show that she is quite a tragic figure.

She also has a dream to be accepted as a woman and to be treated
equally. Curley uses her as an object. No matter what Curley’s wife
says to Curly, in the end she always listens to him. She says ‘I never
get to talk to nobody’ and ‘I get awful lonely’; it is clearly shown

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that she wants a friend to talk to.

Curley’s wife gets extremely lonely. Steinbeck doesn’t give her a
name, which makes her seem more isolated and lonely. Her appearance
leads the men on the ranch to have nasty opinions of her, which again
reflects on the pathetic elements of her character. She doesn’t
realise that her appearance drives men away because they are scared of
Curley. Candy says, “ I think that Curley’s married … a tart” and
George says “what a tramp”.

Being the only female on the ranch with her appearance and flirty
behaviour, she doesn’t fit in. She visits the bunkhouse a few times
claiming that she is looking for Curley yet, she is obviously aiming
to get attention. She starts talking playfully to the men “ I f he
aint, I guess I better look someplace else, she said playfully.

Curley’s wife becomes more lonely and iscolated because the men on the
ranch know that befriending her could be a dangerous risk since Curley
is her husband. Not only is the basses son and could easily get
someone fired, but he also likes fighting and could get into a fight.

Curley’s wife wonders into the barn where Lennie, Candy and Crooks
were talking. Knowing where Curley is, she asks them – “ Any you boys
seen Curley?” – which sounds as her usual routine – always trying to
make the same old pathetic excuse. She complains to them saying how
she is so lonely “ Think I don’t like to talk to somebody ever once in
a while?” Her rhetorical questions are suggesting to the reader that
she has emotions just like everyone else. It is ironic that they call
her trouble and warn Lennie but ultimately it is that is a danger to
her. But the reader still feels sorry for Lennie because of his
disability to understand.

It is sad that Curley’s wife doesn’t understand that people don’t get
involved with her because of her behaviour and appearance. Her dreams
seem to be unachievable and unrealistic making her lonelier and
tragic.

Crooks has a dream to be treated equally. He is the only black person
on the ranch so he doesn’t get any respect because in the 1930s a lot
of people were racist, it was only ten years since slavery had been
abolished. People used the term “nigger” about Crooks naturally; they
don’t think that it is offensive to Crooks because they were
socialized to treat black men as slaves.

Steinbeck makes it clear to the reader that Crooks isn’t treated
equally by mentioning that Crooks cant go into the bunkhouse. Instead
he has his own harvest room with unsuitable furniture to use, “Crooks’
bunk was a long box filled with straw, on which his blankets were
flung” it sounds more like something an animal would sleep on rather
than a person which gives the impression that Crooks is seen as an
animal rather than a person. When Lennie comes into Crooks’ room,
Crooks becomes horrible to Lennie “ They’ll tie ya up with a collar,
like a dog” – It sounds like Crooks feels like he has a chance of
being higher and more powerful than someone, explaining his horrible
threats towards Lennie. This implies that Crooks has always felt
intimidated and beneath everybody else. Crooks began asking Lennie
questions “s’pose you didn’t have nobody.” And “a guy goes nuts if he
ain’t got nobody” – the reader can clearly see that Crooks is talking
about himself wishing not to be in that position. It can be clearly
seen that Crooks is a hopeless character when he starts talking about
men wanted the American dream – “every damn one of ‘em’s got a little
piece of land in his head. An’ never a God damn one of ‘em ever gets
it.” – this implies that Crooks has lost his faith in his dream.

Crooks is one of the most loneliest and isolated characters in this
novel. Steinbeck made this character very defensive although he does
want company. When Candy stands at Crooks’ door, Crooks
says “ ‘Come on in. if ever’ body’s comin’ in, you might
just as well.’ It was difficult for crooks to conceal his pleasure
with anger.” – this shows that Crooks enjoys the company, but he just
cant let go of the fact that he isn’t treated equally by many people,
which is the cause of his defensiveness, - “ I ain’t wanted in the
bunkhouse, and you ain’t wanted in my room.”

Crooks gets extremely lonely all by himself in his room all day as he
isn’t aloud in the bunkhouse. The sad thing is, is that the men let
Crooks go into the bunkhouse once during a Christmas night “ they let
the nigger come in that night.” But Crooks ended up in a fight with
one of the men – this shows that no matter how some of the men try to
be nice to Crooks, they can never think of Crooks as an equal.

Steinbeck creates two similar characters to explore the same themes of
this novel slightly differently to give the reader two perspectives of
the themes. These two characters are Crooks and Curley’s wife..
Curley’s wife is a married woman and Crooks is a black man. This
slight difference makes a big impact on the men on the ranch. They are
both lonely and isolated; Curley’s wife hasn’t got any female friends
and Crooks hasn’t got any black friends meaning that they don’t have
any friends at all since most of the men on the ranch don’t want to
get involved with them. Curley has control of his wife, and everyone
has control of Crooks. Crooks and Curley’s wife also have unfulfilled
dreams; they both want to be treated equally and Curley’s wife also
has a dream of being a movie star.

Interestingly Steinbeck decided to put Crooks and Curley’s wife
together in the middle of chapter 4, when Lennie and Candy are talking
in Crooks’ room. Curley’s wife then came in unwontedly so Candy told
her that she isn’t wanted. However she doesn’t listen to him so Crooks
told her to get out. – This shows that Crooks felt like he had more
power and equality than usual since Candy and Lennie were treating him
equally at that time which is why he had enough courage to tell
Curley’s wife to get out. Curley’s wife then starts threatening
Crooks. This suggests that although Crooks and Curley’s wife are both
treated unequally, Curley’s wife still has the control of Crooks
meaning that Curley’s wife has a very racist opinion of Crooks. This
also implies that Curley’s wife fells that she has a chance to take an
advantage of Crooks since she’s always being taken advantage of.
Steinbeck created Curley’s wife character to have a bitter, lonely and
isolated life while creating Crooks’ character to be treated horribly,
unequally and have a lonely and isolated life where he has to listen
to everything anyone orders him. Steinbeck has used these characters
to explore these themes openly making this novel very effective and
powerful book to read.
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