Trapped Characters in John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men

Trapped Characters in John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men

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In the novel Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck uses stereotypes and discrimination to convey a message of how the characters feel.  A lot of the stereotypes and clichés are just common beliefs of the times, but a few are situational. To quote a quite distinguished reader, "Characters are ‘trapped’- either by what others think of them, or by their situation." A lot of the character’s feelings about themselves and what others think of them will lead to loneliness.


Crooks is a character who is mistreated  in many ways because he is black. Crooks is the stable buck of the barn.  It’s not certain whether Crooks is his name, or his nickname, but we know he got kicked in the back by a horse and had a crooked back ever since.  Nevertheless he gets yelled at by the boss every time something’s wrong. " ‘The boss gives him hell when he’s mad.  But the stable buck don’t give a damn

about that,’ " says Candy, p.32.  Crooks also isn’t allowed in the bunk houses because people say  he stinks.

Crooks talks with Lennie in the book, "Crooks laughed again. ‘A guy can talk to you an’ be sure you won’t

go blabbin’." p.78. This most likely makes Crooks feel not wanted at all, Which roots to loneliness.


              Lennie is not so much stereotyped, but rather trapped because of his size.  Because Lennie is so big, Curley thinks he has to prove something by beating up Lennie.  Lennie gets on Curley’s bad side when he didn’t do anything wrong.  Lennie is then forced to fight.  " ‘I don’t want no trouble,’ he said plaintively.

‘Don’t let him sock me, George.’ " p.32.  This is not an everyday discrimination like racism.  It’s one of

those circumstantial incidents that was described in quote in the introduction.  This is an excellent example

of how John Steinbeck uses extraordinary circumstances to create appeal and realism to the reader.


              Curley’s wife is probably the most loathed on the ranch.  Because of  the way she looks and acts, people think she is easy, or a  "tart".  " ‘Jesus, what a tramp,’ he said. ‘So that’s what Curley picks for a wife.’ " said George, p.35.  She just wants someone to talk to.

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  Guys on the ranch don’t like her because they think she’ll get them in trouble. They make judgments without getting to know her first.   Curley, her husband, doesn’t trust her with the other ranch hands.  She was just out of place on that ranch, And because of that, must have been a real lonely person with lonely feelings.


              George is stereotyped in a mild, but serious way.  People think that because of the way he keeps Lennie out of trouble and travels with him, George is taking his pay from him. " ‘Say—what you sellin’?’  ‘Huh?’ I said what stake you got in this guy?  You takin’ his pay away from him?’ " said the Boss in the beginning of the book, p.25.  This is another unusual stereotype.  Because it seems like nothing, the reader doesn’t get it unless they think about it.  It sounds like no big deal at first, but to be called a liar and a cheat is a very heavy feeling to bear.


              Stereotypes make up a lot of this novel.  If someone took out the stereotypical statements, the symbolism and "the dream", all they would have left would be page numbers..
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