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Around this time period many men were rovers, or men who wandered in search of work. These men were often very
lonely. In John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, Crooks, a black stable buck, endures alienation due to racial
discrimination. Racial discrimination also hinders him from any type of success. Despite the hardships, he overcomes
these obstacles and faces this struggle head on.
Forced into isolationism, due to segregation, alienation becomes Crooks’ companion. On an attempt for his
alienation to be broken, Lennie walks into Crooks’ room “smiled helplessly in an attempt to make friends” (75).
At the sight of this Crooks becomes defensive and declares, “I ain’t wanted in the bunkhouse and you ain’t wanted
in my room...They say I stink”(75). It is obvious that Crooks has been treated badly. he wants company but he does
not really know how to except it or express himself towards it. Suddenly, “Crooks scowled but Lennie’s disarming
smile defeated him”(76). This action shows the importance of human contact and though he scowls, Lennie looks
over him. 1this entire incident shows how Crooks wants his loneliness to end. As Lennie entered Crooks room he
(Crooks) slowly began to let his guard down because he needs companionship and friendship with others to share
his ideas. Until this point ant time none of the other men had ever been in Crooks’ room just as he had never been
in the bunkhouse. More ironic incidents are bound to happen.
After Candy enters Crooks’ room, Curley’s wife enters the room also and tries to hold a conversation with
the three men. After the men do not respond to her she states, “Funny thing... If I catch one man, and he’s alone, I
get along with him fine. But just two of the guys get together and you won’t talk”(84). Curley’s wife is also very
lonely (just as the men are). The men do not want any trouble so Crooks tells her, “Maybe you better go along to
your house now, we don’t want no trouble”(84)...”You ain’t got no rights in a colored man’s room”(88). She does
not have the right to be in his room. Neither of the men want to be in any type of trouble with the boss or Curley, His
son, because she decided to go into Crooks’ room. But all of a sudden she becomes furious and exclaims, “Listen,
Nigger, you know what I can do to you if you open your trap?
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strung up on a tree so easy it ain’t even funny”(88). Curley’s wife demeans Crooks. he knows that with just one
word, she could have him lynched. Ironically Candy takes up for Crooks telling her, “You better go home now...If you
go right now nobody will tell Curley you were here”(88). Undeniably after Curley’s wife spoke those hurtful words,
Crooks manhood is disempowered and he excepts his role as a black man.
This incident can be expressed by Langston Hughes” poem “Uncle Tom”. The poem says...
“Within--/The beaten pride./Without--/The grinning face,/The low, obsequious,/Double bow,/ The sly and servile
grace/Of one the white folks/Long ago/ taught well/To know his/Place.” “Uncle Tom” is a term often used to refer
black people, black men in particular, who “act” white or act the way white people want them to. Crooks is “a proud
aloof man”(74). He is not an uncle tom at all. true enough they (white people) taught him his place yet he was very
humble. Another poem written by Mr. Hughes states, “Negroes,/sweet and docile,/Meek, humble, and kind:”. this
describes Crooks all the way. He’s self-educated and meek yet frustrated, indignant, and angry by his helplessness
as a black man in a racist culture. 2He’s also very wise and observant and also listens with cynicism.
For Crooks the American dream represents 3independence and self-sufficiency. Racism defeats his hope for
reaching the American dream. 4Racism makes him powerless and forces him to become an outcast. 5 Money and
success eludes him. Alienation and segregation contain him. His mental abilities and state of mind set him free.
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