With close reference to the text explore what the stories of Crooks

With close reference to the text explore what the stories of Crooks

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With close reference to the text explore what the stories of Crooks
and Curley's wife reveal of the attitudes, culture and society amongst
farm workers in 1930's America.

With close reference to the text explore what the stories of Crooks
and Curley's wife reveal of the attitudes, culture and society amongst
farm workers in 1930's America.

In 1930s America there was a Great Depression and people were finding
themselves without work. Many flyers were sent out to the unemployed
telling them that there was work in California. Hundreds travelled to
California, hoping to find work but soon found that the employers had
lied and there were few jobs to be found.

'Of Mice and Men' is a story about two men called Lennie and George
who are migrant workers that travel around California trying to make
themselves enough money to buy a small plot of land. The reasons that
they have not settled anywhere is that Lennie is often getting them in
trouble and they are forced to leave and find work elsewhere. Lennie
is a simple minded character, who has the mind of a child in the body
of a man. Although Lennie is lacking in brains he makes up for it with
his strength and has a unique combination of strength and innocence.
Lennie's simple mind means that he relies heavily on George, who is
wise and intelligent. George is a good judge of people's characters
and a good worker; he is modest and doesn't want any trouble. George
takes a lot of responsibility for Lennie and tries o teach him to
control his strength and keep him out of trouble. In the end George
has to make an important decision about Lennie and there is no way to
change the results.

Although George and Lennie are the main characters in the book I will
be concentrating on two minor characters, they are Crooks and Curley's
wife. Although they seem to be less important than George and Lennie
they are the most successful at showing us the culture and attitudes
of the people in the 1930s. Crook is mainly effective at showing
societies opinions on cripples and those of a different race, whilst
Curley's wife portrays the situation of women. Together I am able to
obtain a considerable amount of information on attitudes, culture and
society amongst farm workers in 1930s America.

The character of Crooks plays an important role in the book 'Of Mice
and Men' because Steinbeck is able to show through Crooks the racial
situation of the time. By using a character to portray attitudes
towards others of a different race, Steinbeck can include the feelings

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of the victims as well as his own thoughts on the racial difficulties.
We, the readers would be more effected by the inclusion of a character
than just a description of what was going on at the time because we
can identify with him and understand his feelings.

Crooks is separated from the other workers and has his own room, this
is because during that time blacks were segregated from white workers.
Crooks isn't treated badly by the ranch workers but he is still made
to feel unwanted by the other ranch hands "Cause I'm black" (Pg. 68
line 10). Crooks segregation helps to illustrate the theme of
loneliness in the book and strengthen it in the readers mind.

Loneliness is a recurrent theme in 'Of Mice and Men' and Steinbeck
keeps it fresh in the readers minds by manipulating the characters
into revealing the depths of their isolation. Crooks is one of these
characters and an example of how loneliness can corrupt and destroy a
man. After years of suffering Crooks' outlook on life has grown
increasingly cynical and this is shown when he says "Nobody gets to
heaven, and nobody gets no land." Through what he says and does we are
able to get the feeling that Crooks was once innocent to the prejudice
of the white men "...white kids come to play...sometimes I went to
play with them..." but through his experiences in life he has rid
himself of this innocence and is wise to how society now looks at him
"I never knew till long later why he didn't like that. But I know
now."

Crooks isn't an uneducated man and he doesn't have a horrible
personality, yet why is he treated so differently by the other
workers? It is because most farm workers during that time didn't think
anything of treated him with such discrimination and couldn't
sympathise with him. The colour of his skin seemed to be a barrier
that no one could over come. The horror of Crooks situation is shown
when we read about Crooks confrontation with Curley's wife, through
what we know she doesn't deserve respect but because she is a white,
married woman she can have power over Crooks. She says to him "You
know what I can do to you if you open your trap?" (Pg. 80) and this
means that if she accused him of rape then he would be lynched, it may
seem unfair and unjust but this helps us see what life was like in the
1930s. Some of the ranch workers try to convince themselves that
Crooks' situation isn't as bad as it is "Must be nice to have a room
all to yourself this way" but Crooks is quick to assure them that it
isn't and force the harsh reality to the surface "Sure...And a manure
pile under the window. Sure, it's swell" (Pg. 74 Lines 24-27).

Crooks is included at a vital point in the book and begins to prepare
you for the imminent destruction of Lennie and George's dream. This is
because Crooks is very hostile towards any talk of dreams as he knows
that no one ever succeeds in making their dream a reality "...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." (Pg. 73 lines 26-27) and it is
merely a story to help them struggle along and get through the day. He
tries to convince Lennie and George that they wont get their land "You
guys is just kiddin' yourself...you won't get no land." (Pg. 75)
because he has seen "...guys near crazy with loneliness for land" and
doesn't want them to end up the same way. He feels that it would be
better for them to get on with their lives and just get used to what
they have already.

The character of Curley's wife isn't one of the main characters in the
book but still she has an important role to play. Crooks is used by
Steinbeck to show the racial situation whilst Curley's wife helps to
reveal the position of women as well as strengthen the main themes of
loneliness and dreams. She is one of the most complex and confusing
characters in the book. All the other characters are fairly straight
forward and we know what they are like and what their purpose is, for
example Slim, the leader of the group who makes clear decisions and
works as the head ranch worker. Curley's wife on the other hand has no
job on the ranch and never truly reveals all about herself but leaves
much to speculation. This idea about not knowing much about the
character is shown by Steinbeck because the readers are never informed
of her name. This gives the impression that she is Curley's possession
and not her own person. She is seen in various different characters
from sex-object to merely Curley's belonging.

Curley's wife dreams of getting out of her loveless marriage and

obtaining one of the grand lifestyles that she may have read about in
a magazine. She too is one of the characters who is effected by the
theme of dreams. Curley's wife is also a very lonely character as she
is the only woman on the ranch and all of the other ranch workers
don't like to talk to her because they think she is nothing but a
"tart" (Pg. 29) and "jailbait" (Pg. 33). It is because of her
loneliness that she dies. She starts talking to Lennie because she
wanted some company and no one else would have anything to do with
her, but when she lets him stroke her hair it all goes wrong and
Lennie accidentally kills her. This is a prime example of how
loneliness can destroy someone.

Curley's wife has a false pretence of being hard and cruel but we can
see through Steinbeck's writing that she is just using it as a cover
up for her vulnerability because she grew up in an atmosphere of
suspicion and the survival of the fittest. She feels that by using a
tough exterior it is harder for others to hurt her. There is a very
important section in 'Of Mice and Men' when Curley's wife has died and
Steinbeck describes her. "And all the meanness and the plannings and
the discontent and the ache for attention were all gone from her face.
She was very pretty and simple, and her face was sweet and young. Now
her rouged cheeks and her reddened lips made her seem alive and
sleeping very lightly..." (Pg. 91 Lines 21-26) This helps to show us
the real person beneath the veil of hardness and that if she had been
in a better situation she could have lived a happier life, but instead
she lived a suffocated life of misunderstandings and loneliness that
resulted in her death.

In conclusion we are able to see that although Crooks and Curley's
wife are very different characters they each contribute to the aspect
of social and cultural opinions of farm workers. Crooks is better to
study for racism and the opinions of society, whilst Curley's wife is
more suitable for the study of social misunderstandings and women who
live on the ranches.
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