Close Analysis of Altercation Between Crooks and Curley’s Wife

Steinbeck makes the confrontation between Crooks and Curley’s wife a shocking moment in Of Mice and Men by showing how prejudices produce strong reactions in characters: they can encourage loyalty in the face of adversity, or resentment and cruelty in those affected most by them. Just as the reader begins to forge some hope that the disadvantaged characters in the novel can form a bond, an embryonic ‘dream ranch’ in Crooks’ stable where judgment doesn’t exist, Curley’s wife casts a darkness over the moment through her dialogue.

Crooks expects cruelty from Curley’s wife since he is a black man with few ‘rights,’ and he connects her to these repressed ‘rights’ immediately. He acknowledges himself as ‘colored,’ but his possession of his ‘room’ is one of few rights he has been able to protect. While he has supposed authority and command over Lennie, he is immediately defensive when faced with this relatively empowered woman. What is shocking that this man, isolated until recently, now has a freedom and strength to him and finds a misplaced confidence to ‘face’ her strongly. His protests are swatted down, however, with one imperative: ‘Listen Nigger’. Curley’s wife too perceives Crooks through his color and even uses a proper noun here to suggest Crooks’s identity is solely connected to his race. Her aggressiveness is reminiscent to her treatment by the younger men on the ranch and this fact is used cruelly instead of empathetically, making the reader feel revilement, even questioning her motives later in her confessional moments before her death. Her behavior is shocking for this reason, and for its lack of playfulness and apprehension as seen earlier in the novel. All her actions are a product of prejudice inflicted by others and prejudice felt towards Crooks. Her emotive threat to have him ‘strung’ up is indeed not ‘funny,’ a sincere threat that quite clearly gives her power in the relationship; this is also shown by her standing ‘over’ him with superiority.

Contextual references such as the Scottsboro Boys’ lack of justice and the acts of the KKK are real reminders for the reader, as is the metaphorical reference to ‘whip’ which carries connotations of both viciousness and slavery. Steinbeck’s use of omniscient narration, as highlighted through adverbs such as ‘hopelessly,’ shocks the reader in the quickness of defeat Crooks suffers, especially compared to the cruelty he inflicts on Lennie; yet any learning that takes place in his conversation with Lennie is lost immediately here, later forcing him to withdraw again from the dream. Symbolically, any confidence or hope potentially felt by Crooks disappears with his physiognomy – he oxymoronically begins to ‘grow smaller,’ progressively to ‘nothing’ and isolates himself ‘pressed’ against the wall away from her and ‘drawn in.’ Surprisingly (given his fear of Curley) and impressively, Candy’s embryonic friendship with Crooks causes him to demonstrate loyalty to the black man. They are after all united by their physical disabilities. As a white man, he asserts himself ‘quietly,’ implying he may not believe that what he is saying will have an effect. Yet he feels a need to show loyalty to Crooks, whom he has got know rather than this ‘tart’ who has done little to impress him.

Steinbeck reminds us though that he is ‘Old Candy’ and indeed his argument is frail; he also semantically ‘subsides’ like Crooks does. What is reassuring though is that he seeks to help, given his regrets for abandoning his dog at its time of death. This sense of justice contradicts any lack of hope that men in their position may feel, given the economic climate. Considering the men’s threats to reveal her whereabouts to Curley, Curley’s wife shocks the reader with the revelation that she would like to ‘bust’ Curley herself. Steinbeck is subtly suggesting here that her frustration and aggression may have another source – her husband. She feels confident enough to reveal this information, as the men are no threat to her because she is the boss’s daughter-in-law, and as with most characters and indeed herself in Chapter 5, she doesn’t reveal anything out of confidence. Lennie in many ways has acted heroically, and his ability to do things others wouldn’t allows her to confide him. Steinbeck is cleverly referring to the novel’s climax here with this reference; the sound imagery of the ‘halter chains’ implies that a reminder of Curley’s injury will remain relevant to later events. When Curley’s wife dies, the lack of compassion Curley shows justifies her frustration in life, particularly when her innocence is shown in death. And, indeed it suggests that Curley’s reaction to the loss of his wife is connected only to Lennie’s embarrassment of him.

Overall, Steinbeck shocks the reader here by highlighting that this chapter, which at first seems to fight against prejudice, is quickly destroyed by it instead, in just the same way that the ‘best laid plans of mice and men often go awry’ through factors beyond the individual determination of those who wish to achieve their dreams. The sad thing is that these events are real to Steinbeck and probably not shocking at all. It’s a shame that not all people in the 1930s realized that prejudice should always be shocking.

Of Mice and Men Literary Analysis

In the realistically dismal novella Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck sympathizes with poverty-stricken characters that are stuck working towards the hopeless American Dream. He portrays the men and women as human beasts, stranded in a world of limited social roles, intolerance, and endless labor. Steinbeck juxtaposes this realistic depiction of daily life with the character’s focus on a dream world that includes freedom, individuality, wealth, success, and loyalty. His straightforward writing style allowed the story to be widely understood by those caught in the Great Depression’s soul-sucking grasp at the time of publishing, and by anyone from teenagers to adults today. By making a connection with the audience, presenting strong symbolism, and utilizing vernacular diction, Steinbeck subtly argues that the common dreams of people in this time period were unattainable and led only to a miserable cycle of work and tragedy while informing the reader of the true societal conditions of the 1930’s working class.

Steinbeck evokes the reader’s affections by having them sympathize with George and Lennie’s situation and breaks their hearts by presenting the men’s complex relationship that ended with a depressing death. By utilizing vivid imagery, Steinbeck has the reader appalled at the living situation the men are facing. At the very beginning of the book, the reader feels sorry as George and Lennie only have beans to eat for dinner, and is later disgusted when George discovers a can at the bunk house that says “…positively kills lice, roaches and other scourges’” (Page 18). Through his supportive tone, Steinbeck illustrates how main character George has to be strict at times with the mentally impaired Lennie, gets mad at him sometimes, but softens up because he can’t bear to see him upset. On page 32, George screams and cusses at Lennie, “‘Listen to me, you crazy bastard…don’t you even look at that bitch’” (Page 32) in an effort to save Lennie from possible conflict. Once the climax of the novel, Lennie’s death, rolls around, the reader is heavily invested in the character’s relationship and feels hatred towards George as he selfishly murders the handicapped man to try and keep his own job and future wealth. By getting them attached to the story, Steinbeck proves to the reader that the people of the 1920s and 1930s suffered through less than ideal living conditions, gave up friendships and accepted brutal tragedy in the name of the American Dream.

Steinbeck presents multiple motifs throughout the book that support his argument, and a notable form of this symbolism is the use of settings as symbols. At the very beginning of the book, Steinbeck introduces the pool and brush by the river. This pool represents safety, freedom, and seclusion. The characters enjoy the separation from society; when Lennie asks why they’re sleeping near the pool George replies “‘Tomorra we’re gonna go to work…Tonight I’m gonna lay right here and look up. I like it’” (Page 8). Steinbeck continues to tie in this oasis later on in the story; Lennie flees to the “deep green…quiet pool” (Page 99) after his crime, expecting George to meet him there. Steinbeck expertly uses symbolism to depict the unattainable American Dream by contrasting idyllic settings with depressing tragedies; the place that Lennie imagined to be his safe haven turned out to be his death bed.

To ensnare the reader and allow them to truly understand the character’s, Steinbeck expertly utilizes vernacular diction. This diction depicts exactly how the working class of California talked and acted in the 1930s; a characteristic of literary realism known as regionalism. Straying from the formal, clean writing of his predecessors, Steinbeck wastes no time in showing the reader that George and Lennie had to walk “‘…[A] God damn near four miles,’” because their truck driver was “‘Too God damn lazy to pull up’” (Page 4). This use of cuss words, of how the men really talked, allows the reader to not only better understand what Californian working life was really like but how George truly feels. Steinbeck never makes the reader guess at how a character feels, instead using straightforward adverbs to show the character’s current emotions. For example, during a bunk room conversation, “Carlson said casually ‘Curley been in yet?…Whit said sarcastically ‘He spends half his time lookin’ for her, and the rest of the time she’s lookin’ for him’” (Page 53). Steinbeck uses words and spellings that are not classically considered correct in order to portray how working life really was and to give the reader insight into the true feelings of 1930s citizens.

Of Mice and Men informs the reader of the harsh reality of 1930s working life while conveying the message that the obsession with the American dreams of wealth and autonomy led to needless tragedies and broken relationships. Steinbeck’s supportive but straightforward and honest tone allows the readers to understand exactly what he is trying to say. Through the use of literary devices, including emotional appeals, powerful symbolism, and regionalistic word choice, Steinbeck achieves his goals of revealing the lives of 1930s working men and shaming their fascination with the American Dream.

Daisy As a Negative Allegory For American Society

Daisy is a pivotal character in The Great Gatsby – Fitzgerald’s interpretation of an old money princess is oft regarded as one of the most selfish fictional characters to exist throughout literary history, perhaps the epitome of a ‘Femme Fatale’. While it is true that aspects of her character are repulsively vulgar, there are examples that point to the contrary. It is true that overall the more blatant aspects of her character directly link towards her being allegorical to Fitzgerald’s distaste for American society, and this is the main point her character serves towards his wider purpose of highlighting the moral decay in the American Dream. However, there are aspects of her character that do demonstrate opposing opinions. To fully grasp her character and what it connotes for The Great Gatsby, further exploration of her character is required.Perhaps the most blatant of all aspects of her character is the fact she is Old Money; having “been everywhere and done everything,” it is clear she is of the belief that the world is her oyster, and she will take what she can get if it is presented to her. Something that demonstrates her wealth more than anything else is the $350,000 string of pearls that Tom purchases for her – which she quickly dismisses when the whereabouts of necklace come into question. To her, such an ostentatious article of jewellery is something that can be thrown to the side if it is not absolutely perfect. Within this, Fitzgerald demonstrates his repugnance towards the upper class of America in a swift and succinct manner, criticising the wastefulness and pretentious attitude that is held by the higher ranking in society, all through the allegory of Daisy, and the fact she is Old Money. Fitzgerald also questions the morals of the Old Money society through Daisy via her moral actions through her wealth. When it is brought up why Daisy married Tom in the first place, it is described as “of love, of money, of unquestionable practicality”, suggesting that while a healthy and loving relationship is important in the Buchannan’s marriage, it was down to sheer pragmatism in the end that they got married. Fitzgerald wants to portray that in Daisy’s world, the end justifies the means – because Tom was the logical choice for her marriage, she “(married Tom) without so much as a shiver” – claiming to Gatsby later on that she “never loved him”. Going through life without so much as a plan for the future (“what do people plan?”), and without consideration to others is a key aspect to Daisy’s character and personality, and it is obvious that these are traits Fitzgerald was looking to portray in a negative light, in order to make sure Daisy was seen as allegorical; in further support, indecisive and rich characters that have little interest in their life plan are common in literature that offer critique of the American Dream, and the reason for this is simple – it is a very tactless method of getting across ideas. In the works of Salinger (Catcher), Plath (Bell Jar) and Miller (Salesman), Old Money people exist in order to characterise the moral injustice and distaste for these sorts of people that exists within the real world at the time. Daisy is one such of these characters, perhaps the epitome of an Old Money princess, perfectly allegorical to Fitzgerald’s distaste to American Society.Daisy’s gender and the implications that come with being female is another method used in order to portray Fitzgerald’s ideals in the novel. Commonly portrayed as ‘the weaker gender’, Daisy could be said to invert this trope, being rather headstrong, thrilling, and possibly reckless. However, this is not to say that she is shown positively because of these traits. It is clear that Fitzgerald means to show how dangerous Daisy can be by utilising her gender, either unknowingly or through her own thoughts. Nick observes she has a habit of mumbling when she speaks, in order to make people “lean towards her”, a gesture that comes off to many as flirtatious. In “Of Mice and Men”, the character of Curley’s wife is also utilised as a metaphor for her whole gender, being the only real significant female character in the entire book. Dressed entirely in red, and nameless, she is known for seducing the other man on the ranch – and not much else. However, it is revealed shortly before her death that there is more to her character than is first obvious, expressing dreams that she wished to be an actress once. Daisy is similar in this aspect: while her gender in the context immediately sets her up as a seductress, there is more to her than just this aspect – for one, she is often associated with the colour white (“our white girlhood was passed together”), a colour largely associated with purity. She also seems to view her own sophistication with “thrilling scorn”, implying that there is more to her beneath the veneer of polish she has built up for the world, a real person. One could argue this expresses Fitzgerald’s wishes to demonstrate something other than his distaste for American society through Daisy. It is in the very beginning of Chapter 1 we can see how Daisy views her own gender through other characters. She still refers to her 3 year-old daughter as a “baby”, something that needs protection from the world. Her best hopes for the child is that it will be a “beautiful little fool”, for that is what she believes the “best thing a girl can be in this world”. We can assume that Daisy feels the same way about herself, perhaps acting as a fool as her cynical nature dictates this is the best she can hope for herself. When she begins to falter from Tom, she seems to be totally willing to leave her old life, instructing everyone to “tell ‘em all Daisy’s change her mine’”, the accent implied by the incorrect pronunciation possibly hinting towards a dropping of false pretences, that she is no longer acting out the ‘beautiful little fool’ act for everyone, existing only to please, even telling Gatsby that she “never loved him (Tom)”, which is just what he wanted to hear. It is highly possible that everything Daisy does is simply her acting for the sake of it, to come across as exciting, “a wild tonic in the rain”, her voice “full of money”. Fitzgerald seems to have written Daisy as a character that is putting on an act for the world; for her belief is that this is the best a woman can do – and Fitzgerald’s views could possibly be reflected in this. With no positive female character in the entire novel (Jordan is known as a cheat in golf, Myrtle is morally askew as per her affair with Tom) Fitzgerald could be arguing that because of American society, women are forced to act like “beautiful little fools” in order to have any modicum of respect from others, and even then, they can be interpreted as flirtatious – there is no way to win for a woman – or man – in the context of the American dream, which is exactly what Fitzgerald’s wider message was, to criticize the impossibility of such a goal. From these conclusions we can draw that Daisy is indeed allegorical for F. Scott Fitzgerald’s critique of American Society, but perhaps not in a way one would expect. Caught up in her own cynicism, Daisy is forced to act in order to get anywhere, never faltering for fear of disgrace – all because of how American society is laid out, with no option other than to become a “beautiful little fool” – there are certainly hints towards Daisy’s innocence in the novel, which backs up this viewpoint. Salinger chooses to represent innocence more directly in his novel, through the character of Caroline – whose simplicity when it comes to life is what breaks Holden out of his depression, expressing the opinion that American society has yet to influence the lives of some young children, and there is hope for the future, in both Holden’s life, and the future of America. Fitzgerald would share the same opinion, that innocence in character is what will save America from the inevitable downfall if the American Dream continues to taunt the populace. Daisy’s innocence is a characteristic that is often ignored when observing her, but it’s all there in the small details that point towards her fragility. For instance, the ways she expresses herself as times are in no way sexual, which sets her apart from Myrtle, who seems to “smoulder”, a description that brings to mind a more mature and sophisticated woman. Throughout the novel, Daisy struggles to actually use the phrase ‘I love you’ – even with her own child (“come to your own mother that loves you”), and even with Gatsby in Chapter 7 she can only formulate her thoughts for him as “you always look so cool” – a rather innocent phrase, as if she is shy of her own romantic thoughts. Her childlike tendencies come across through her language more often than her actions. Wishing to put Gatsby in a “little pink cloud… and push you around in it” is a very immature and innocent way of looking at someone that you admire. Fitzgerald has made it so there is nothing mature at all about Daisy, nor is there anything promiscuous in the actions she takes. Her strength seems more often than not to come from her wealth rather than her actual self, even to people she knows, money is a key descriptor in her actions and attitudes, Gatsby claiming that “her voice is full of money”, perhaps a way of Fitzgerald suggesting that when she speaks, there seems to be no backing behind her words other than the Old Money she originates from. When she is put into a situation without the right sort of money, Daisy seems out of place, perhaps because she feels her security blanket of East Egg has gone. For example, at Gatsby’s party she is said to be “appalled by its raw vigour”, implying that she has an extreme distaste for anything other than what she knows. How this links into her weakness, and why this is not linked to Fitzgerald’s distaste, is that money can change how a person behaves, making all of their decisions and actions morally unjust (in the case of Tom, his affair, while Daisy becomes obsessed with the wealth aspect). Fitzgerald, while wanting to portray Daisy as selfish and vulgar at times, does make a point of her only being able to access her emotions through material objects – she tells Gatsby she “reminds him of the man from the advertisement” – perhaps suggesting that consumerism and capitalism has affected her so much she can’t be honest anymore. This allows the critiquing of the American Dream and American society to occur for Fitzgerald in one fell swoop. So rather than Daisy being allegorical for the American society he dislikes, another argument could be that she is a victim of the system, forced to make decisions based upon money rather than substance. So perhaps in a way it is her fragility and weakness that Fitzgerald wants to highlight – while not excusing her for her selfish behaviour, he does want to demonstrate that the impossibility of the American Dream can affect society on every level, even those who seem to have it all. Plath explores this concept in The Bell Jar, the character of Esther so obsessed with being perfect on every level – academic success, an immaculate boyfriend, perfect family life – that she becomes obsessed over these details and the stress she suffers causes her to fall into depression, forming a protective barrier around herself in order to cope. Both Plath and Fitzgerald have made the connection that even behind what appears to be a strong character, there can be weakness underneath that is part of a larger system. Daisy’s innocence could be part of her true character showing through – while her snobbery is something that may be the by-product of carrying the burden of being “the golden girl”. The fact she is described as “the king’s daughter” further supports the idea that she is innocent in her actions, being swept along with the movements of the world. Rather than being described as a Queen, or even a Princess – someone who seems more in control, Fitzgerald has chosen to use something with suggests that her position is something that has been thrusted upon her without her own choices being taken into consideration – being born into responsibility under “the king”. To further explore being put into a situation in which you have no control, you can observe the character of Sunny in Catcher in the Rye, the prostitute who clearly wants to be somewhere else, but still wants to get on with her job. Holden comments on how depressed she makes him, discussing the idea that she bought her dress like any other girl would – no one knowing she would wear it for prostitution. This links to Daisy as her marriage to Tom occurred without “so much as a shiver”, putting her in an auspicious position in which she has little control. Fitzgerald uses these techniques to suggest to the reader that not everyone is born inherently a part of the unfair American society, but rather that it is forced upon them at times, and they must adapt in order to survive – Fitzgerald even acknowledging that at one point she “was feeling the pressure of the world outside”, affirming that even at the top level of society, there is stress to be yet better, yet richer (just as Esther endured in The Bell Jar), which overall serves as his distaste for American society in general, rather than just pointing the finger at Daisy for being the main figurehead of the evils of American society.However, there is no doubt in affirming that Daisy is a character that Fitzgerald means for us to have distaste towards. Her shallow and materialistic beliefs, coupled with an extremely selfish attitude, sets her up as perhaps even the ultimate ‘villain’ in the story, if there were one to be had in the first place. Linking back to her ‘acting’ as a “beautiful little fool”, the times she acts in a positive way seem to be oozing with sheer fakery. Her first line is pivotal especially, being “paralyzed with happiness” is such an over-exaggeration of the event that even Nick doubts the sincerity of her words, leading the reader to believe that beneath the veneer of her well-acted performance, there is a truly spiteful person. It is later on in the very first chapter that Nick further discovers aspects to Daisy that point towards her putting on a show, saying that “the instant her voice broke off… I felt the basic insincerity of what had been said,” which shows that her charm only carries her so far, with glimpses of her unsightly nature coming through here and there – making her allegorical for Fitzgerald’s distaste for American society as the fakery is damaging the people beneath her in society. Her speech patterns and actions are especially dramatic also, pointing towards Fitzgerald directing us to the conclusion she is acting excellently. Starting with her speech, she has a quite romanticised view on things, often over complimenting others – calling Nick an “absolute rose” for no clear reason at all, Nick not having done anything especially rose-worthy the entire evening. Overly sweet and insincere comments are all too common, “you absolute little dream” being used rather flippantly. Fitzgerald also portrays this through her actions, most noticeably in chapter 1 in which she “snaps out the candles with her fingers” in objection to them being used, then calling for attention when her fingers are damaged from doing so. Fitzgerald then decides to make Daisy completely change the subject, talking about her child all of a sudden, before anyone can react. It is as if she feels she must be constantly taking action. That her life, to her at least, is so incredibly boring that she can’t sit still for a moment, acting in an apparently generous and giving manner, but underneath it all being rather pompous. Throughout the novel she constantly uses other characters to her advantage in order just to gain a thrill or some excitement – Nick says that she wanted “her life shaped now”, indicating she doesn’t want to do anything for herself, but it is also clear that she doesn’t even know what she wants herself – not fully committing to anything. Of course, this is most blatant in her half-baked affair with Gatsby, which is the central point of the novel. The line she feeds Gatsby, that Daisy “never loved him (Tom)”, is perfect for her to act out. It tells Gatsby exactly what he wants to hear, yet does not admit that she loves Gatsby, either; Gatsby only believing this since it has been his ambition for 5 years. Suckering others into “her artificial world”, Daisy manages to never fully give herself to an idea, in case she changes her mind later on, as she does not know what she wants herself – acting selfishly and only for her own materialistic good, what would put her in the highest position (explaining why marrying Tom was partly due to “unquestionable practicality), not caring about who she damages along the way. Of course, the prime example of this is the bleeding heart that is Gatsby, enduring a love so painful that will never come to bear fruit. Selfish characters that care more about their own future and success than others have been explored in literature throughout time, and are not limited to novels that are critiquing American society and the American dream. Catherine in Wuthering Heights, is immortalised as a woman who chooses wealth and success over a difficult life that is humbling and selfless, not choosing to marry Heathcliff due to his background and the difficulty that would come from this, mirroring that of Daisy not marrying Gatsby. However there is a key difference in that it is possible Daisy never loved Gatsby, her personality being very flippant and effervescent, while Gatsby clings onto the past as if his life depends upon it (building his entire persona around the hope the past can be recreated, which of course, it cannot). This can be summed up quite well within Chapter 7, after the death of Myrtle at the hand of Daisy. Gatsby takes the bullet for her very admirably, but also very foolishly. Daisy is quite nonplussed by the whole affair, having “turned away… then turned back” at the incident, letting an innocent man suffer simply because he will, and she knows that he will. It is when we see this despicably vulgar side of Daisy that it becomes clear Fitzgerald wanted her to represent a distaste of something – and it is even clearer that this something is American society. Epitomising the uncaring upper class, Daisy moves through life taking advantage of people, acting dramatic simply for the sake of it, and being wasteful all for the benefit of self-preservation and happiness for herself, using her position to intimidate others as well as attract them to her. Daisy is allegorical of Fitzgerald’s distaste because gullible characters such as Gatsby easily fall for her façade, aiming to become everything she wants, when all she wants is what will benefit her the most – making it impossible in the process. It is the extremely selfish nature of Daisy, and the rest of the upper-class society in general that Fitzgerald aims to highlight in this novel, that their unfairness is causing the slow death of honesty and sincerity in the world. He also criticises the romanticised viewpoint the lower classes have of this society, attempting to imitate a high-class lifestyle (evident in the New-Yorkers such as Myrtle) that doesn’t exist. Fitzgerald wants to make clear that no one should aspire to be like Daisy, as she is wholly selfish and repugnant – making her the perfect allegory for his distaste, Daisy being everything that he finds wrong in society.Daisy appears at first a confusing character, able to change from coy, coquettish flirtation and stereotypically weak behaviour to sheer scorn at the flick of a switch. However, upon closer inspection it is obvious that neither of these is her true character, and that her self-spun web of deceit and lies only placed to further herself in society and better her own lifestyle require her to become an actress, please the right people, and equally destroy them at the most minor disturbance, or the most major, with no discern between the two – rejecting Gatsby once because he lacks the riches, and twice because she selfishly allows him to take the blame for the death of Myrtle, an act that sums up her character very succinctly. Fitzgerald has a clear distaste for American society, believing that it sets up the practice of the idealisation of a society which is fabricated by the upper class, the lower classes only fuelling this fabrication by working harder for those above them – believing that it will get them closer to the perfect life, when in actual fact all it does is supply those above them. Daisy serves as an allegory for this distaste: she dramatically goes around life, believing everything to be an “absolute dream”, wanting her life “shaped for her”, with no clear direction in what exactly she wants to be shaped at all, not even knowing how to do so (“what do people plan?”). People such as Gatsby work constantly in order to achieve this life, hoping for some facet of happiness or fulfilment – only to be shot down, as the life they strive so hard for doesn’t even really exist, and that accessing the thing closest to it is nigh impossible. Daisy shows signs of being weak and fragile behind her highly practiced act, it is probably her own self-destruction that has caused this – she can hardly believe her own lifestyle (“sophisticated – God, I’m sophisticated!”), which has damaged her own beliefs in herself and those around her, taking on a very selfish and cynical viewpoint of the world. However it can be said with clear diction that her main purpose in The Great Gatsby is to demonstrate F. Scott Fitzgerald’s distaste for American society – pulling down those around her in order to fulfil her selfish needs, no matter the cost to others, Daisy is succinctly allegorical of Fitzgerald’s wider purpose of serving as a warning to those not in a high position like she is; the American dream is ultimately futile, and accessing it is impossible because those that are believed to have it don’t even have it, but only their created “artificial world”, used to make those below them work harder to fuel their own selfish desires, so the rich get richer, forcing people such as Gatsby to aimlessley chase Daisy’s green light, “the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us”, those like Daisy making sure “tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther”, just like “boats against the current” – the last few lines of the book summing up the intense venom Fitzgerald feels towards society, being epitomised by Daisy – everything about her gives off this vibe, and through literary analysis it is clear that her character symbolizes F. Scott Fitzgerald’s distaste for American society.

The Prevalence of Loneliness in Of Mice and Men

Loneliness is debatably one of the most horrible feelings existent within society. It strikes every living soul at one point or another, as it takes an immensely deep emotional toll. A profound part of what contributes to the feeling of loneliness is a lack of emotional empathy from others. Loneliness has the power to jade one’s perception and mindset drastically, thus wreaking detrimental effects on one’s behavior, and ultimately changing him or her as a person as well. Throughout the novel Of Mice and Men, Steinbeck portrays the prevalent theme of loneliness, along with the pervasive toll that it takes, through the depth of his characterization of George, Curley’s wife, and Crooks.One of the first characters in the novel who was struck by the effects of loneliness was George Milton. For the longest time, George has been Lennie’s caretaker since Lennie suffered from mental retardation and was unable to care for himself. A significant disadvantage of being Lennie’s caretaker was that Lennie always unknowingly gets himself into major trouble, thus causing both him and George to lose every job they get. As a result, they never stayed in any one place for long, so George never got the chance to develop relationships with anyone, which was one contributing factor to his loneliness. In addition, he was not fond of many ranch hands either, stating, “I seen the guys that go around on the ranches alone. That ain’t no good. They don’t have no fun. After a long time they get mean. They get wantin’ to fight all the time” (Steinbeck 41). George expressed his frustration with the other ranch hands, and it was obvious that he does not have a solid friendship with any of them. Two ranch hands he particularly never got along with were Curley and Carlson. Curely and Carlson were very emotionally superficial people who were not in touch with anyone’s emotions. After George killed Lennie in the final scene, Carlson noticed that he was saddened by Lennie’s death and responded by saying, “Now what the hell ya suppose is eatin’ them two guys?” (107). This lack of empathy created a barrier between George and Carlson, along with other men like Carlson, for they cannot emotionally connect or forge a friendship due to the lack of understanding. The only person that George did genuinely care for and view as a friend was Lennie. However, due to Lennie’s mental condition, he only served as physical company to George; despite how George always told him that they have each other, George was never able to connect with Lennie on any kind of deep, emotional level since Lennie had the mindset of a child. Therefore, George was often very lonely on emotional terms. His sense of loneliness was often conveyed through his solitaire games; he was so lonely that he had to play a card game on his own. Finally, at the end of the novel, George lost his only source of consistent care and company when he had to shoot his own companion and only true friend. At that point, George lost something even more vital than just Lennie; he lost his unique purpose in life as well. This was George’s final onset, for he has now reached his full capacity of loneliness and discontent in life, which is an empty void dusted with crushed dreams of false hope that can never again be filled.Another character diseased by the prevalence of loneliness was Curley’s wife. She married Curley, but despises him, for she never loved him. She does not like talking to Curley, and with no one else on the ranch to talk to, she has sunken into an abyss of loneliness. Her loneliness took a drastic toll on her behavior towards others. She was so eager for attention that she would go as far as acting inappropriately flirtatious, malevolently cruel, or even overtly insecure. She often roamed around the ranch, asking various men if they have seen Curley around. She behaved in a seductive manner, while always making sure that she looked her best, for she had “full, rouged lips and wide-spaced eyes, heavily made up. Her fingernails were red. Her hair hung in little rolled clusters, like sausages. She wore a cotton housedress and red mules, on the steps of which were little bouquets of red ostrich feathers” (Steinbeck 31). She does so, because she was so desperate for attention that she felt as if this was the only way that she can receive attention from others. However, unfortunately for Curley’s wife, most of the ranch hands treated her with hostility and tried to ignore her to avoid getting themselves in trouble. Her loneliness has also led to her occasional sadistic behavior as well. Since her loneliness made her so unhappy and insecure, her ego was sometimes fed by deliberately insulting and condescending towards others, like how she did to Lennie, Candy, and Crooks when she tried to degrade them by calling them “a bunch of bindle stiffs—a nigger an’ a dum-dum and a lousy ol’ sheep” (71). By putting down others, Curley’s wife reassured herself that there are people with lives worse than hers, which ultimately gave her a temporary ego boost and made her feel better about herself for the time being. This proved how insecure she was about herself. However, at root, her intentions were not purely malevolent; she was just an empty, lonely soul in need of a friend to talk to. She even said so herself when she confessed to Lennie, “I get lonely. You can talk to people, but I can’t talk to nobody but Curley. Else he gets mad. How’d you like not to talk to anybody?” (87). Her loneliness clearly took a heavy emotional toll on her, leaving her feeling insecure and deeply saddened, in addition to altering her personality into one that is oftentimes seductively malevolent. It seemed as if her only goal in her daily life was to roam around looking for someone to give her attention, for that was all she was ever shown doing. The sad part was that despite all of her efforts, Curley’s wife always failed to find a friend who was willing to talk to her, thus leaving her abyss of loneliness open to even more wear and erosion; this was a pain that was only able to be terminated in death. One of the loneliest characters in the novel was Crooks, the black stable buck. His immense loneliness was due to the white ranch hands’ prejudice and discrimination against blacks. Unlike everybody else, Crooks was forced to sleep alone in his own room, whereas all of the other men slept in the bunkhouse. To add, the men never invite Crooks to play cards with them or go out with them to town either. As a result, Crooks’s forced isolation and deep void of loneliness has taken detrimental effects on his character and perception of others. His loneliness turned him into a very cold and bitter soul, and he often shies away in reaction to others, because no one has ever been kind enough to him to make him feel comfortable enough to open up. His superficial hardness served as a defense mechanism to protect his insecurely weak and vulnerable self hiding beneath his exterior. Due to his loneliness, he often lost his grasp of who he really was, so he took on a different persona instead. He was so used to being in isolation that he could not help but respond in a harsh and hostile manner when Lennie peaked into his doorway: “You got no right to come in my room. This here’s my room. Nobody got any right in here but me” (Steinbeck 68). In addition, Crooks’s persistent loneliness opened up the gate that led him to become slightly sadistic at one point as well. After talking to Lennie for a while, Crooks realized that Lennie has a mental condition, thus giving Crooks the upper hand in regards to intelligence and common sense. He used this to his advantage and emotionally tortured Lennie by telling him that George may have gotten hurt and might not come back. Crooks’s ego was temporarily satisfied by praying on Lennie’s weakness. All of his life, he has been treated as if he were less than human, and he has been vulnerable to everyone, which has sunken him into a deep depression of loneliness; now, the tables have turned for a moment, and it was Lennie who was currently vulnerable to him. After Crooks realized that he should not try to trick Lennie anymore, he owned up to his loneliness, and even admitted that “a guy needs somebody―to be near him. A guy goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody. Don’t make no difference who the guy is, long’s he’s with you. I tell ya. I tell ya a guy gets too lonely an’ he gets sick” (72-73). Crooks openly admitted to how he gets sick of being so lonely, and just as soon as he finally managed to open up and expose himself to the outside world, he emotionally withdrew back within himself just as quickly, for having permanent company and a real chance of surfacing from his abyss of loneliness was too good to be true. The prevalence and pervasiveness of loneliness was adequately conveyed through the darkened depth of George, Curley’s wife, and Crooks in John Steinbeck’s riveting novel, Of Mice and Men. Loneliness is a uniquely painful feeling that exudes an aura of emptiness, in which plagues its victims. The feeling of loneliness is so powerful that it has the power to jade people of life, as well as take a detrimental toll on one’s emotional mindset, just as it has for George, Curley’s wife, and Crooks. Loneliness drew George and Crooks even deeper into their abyss, leading them down a path to emotional destruction. On the other hand, loneliness drew Curley’s wife too far away from herself as her cries of desperation for attention were only answered in death. One of the most significant factors that contributed to all of the characters’ loneliness was their lack of empathy and emotional understanding for each other. It was quite ironic that despite how loneliness struck nearly everyone, no one seemed to understand each other’s loneliness. Their loneliness has emotionally isolated them so drastically to the point where they are no longer sensitive to the emotions of others, and even sometimes, themselves. It is truly disheartening to see how pervasive and powerful the effects of loneliness are. For these characters, the prevalence of loneliness will only continue to ravenously eat away at their lives as their empty voids still yearn to be filled.

Themes and Style of the Writings of John Steinbeck

John Steinbeck’s novels The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men enable readers to capture a glimpse of the time of the Great Depression in the United States. In The Grapes of Wrath, the Joad family of Oklahoma, accompanied by thousands of other farming families, travels across America to chase a dream that lies in California. Their dream is to attain jobs and prosper off of their own land once again. However, they find only disappointments in California, with all of the work already taken and the poverty just as severe as it was in Oklahoma. In Of Mice and Men, the two main characters, George and Lennie, build a powerful friendship as they migrate to California for work. Out of love and compassion, George devotes himself to protecting Lennie from their hardhearted society, as Lennie suffers from a mental handicap and often finds himself in trouble. Although the novels are organized in different stylistic forms, Steinbeck uses the themes of pursuing the American dream, developing compassion for others, the importance of unification, and the mass hardship and suffering in life in both The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men.In both novels, the theme of the American dream is present. In the heart of the Great Depression, Steinbeck’s characters have hope and confidence that they will reach California’s wealth and opportunities, but they are never able to attain what they envisioned. They dream to someday make a profit of their own, but the reality is that the long journey to reach one’s dream is most often unrewarded in the end. In Of Mice and Men, when Crooks, the African-American stable buck, was left in the quarters with Lennie, Lennie told him about his fantasy of moving to California and building a farm with George. Crooks sees that in actuality, “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. … Nobody never gets to heaven, and nobody gets no land. It’s just in their head” (Mice 81). Like in Of Mice and Men, the dreams of the farmers in The Grapes of Wrath were distant and implausible to achieve, however, the farmers never gave up on their dream to reach the west. As their hope to accomplish their goal diminished, the dream of living a perfect farmer’s life in California also disappeared.Another common theme in Steinbeck’s two novels is the power and importance of unity. In The Grapes of Wrath, the government and banks stripped the families of their land, food, and other possessions and forced them into a deep state of poverty. The farmers quickly realized that they were powerless when they worked individually to fight the system that held them back. Although they still struggled as they worked together, the people found their tasks less agonizing when their discomfort was shared, and so they banded together and journeyed westward. Unification was very important in keeping the family strong. Whenever one family member gave up on the group, the entire family faced conflicts between each other. Although they continued on with their journey after a member withdrew or had to be left behind, the family struggled to get back on track. If they didn’t have each other to inspire and motivate one another — particularly Ma, who always kept the family moving together — then they all would have suffered much more than they essentially did. Ma held the group together through her dominant role as head of the family. She was always the member to gather the family together after a loss when the rest lost their hope. Like in The Grapes of Wrath, the characters in Of Mice and Men, specifically George and Lennie, choose to unite to overcome society’s cruelty. Lennie, who suffered from a mild form of retardation, recognized the significance of having George in his life when he said, “I got you to look after me, and you got me to look after you, and that’s why” (Mice 15). Lennie shows that no matter what life challenges them with, he and George will always support one another because they need each other.In both works, Steinbeck portrays the theme of compassion in human nature, as the characters frequently make sacrifices for one another. Amongst the many relationships in The Grapes of Wrath, whether family bonds, friendships, or mere acquaintanceships, compassion ties the characters together. Oftentimes, the compassion is shown through sacrifice, which makes the relationships even stronger. Compassion and love for one another mean that an individual must look past the differences in others and find the things they have in common to join together. They must also put one another’s necessities in front of his or her own and consider the common benefit rather than pure self-benefit. For example, when Ma forfeits part of her family’s stew for the children in the camp, she becomes greatly selfless for those who appeared desperate for care. She explained to an upset woman, “S’pose you was cookin’ a stew an’ a bunch of little fellas stood aroun’ moonin’, what’d you do? We didn’t have enough, but you can’t keep it when they look at ya like that” (Grapes 333). Out of compassion for the hungry children, Ma’s motherly instinct told her to help them, even if it meant she would have to sacrifice her own limited food supply. Likewise, in Of Mice and Men, George sympathizes with Lennie by choosing to help Lennie rather than leave him vulnerable to the unkindness in society. When George shoots Lennie in the head before the lynch mob comes to torment him, he shows compassion for Lennie’s well-being in the future. If George had allowed the mob to take him away, Lennie would have been lost by himself in society without George, and he would have found himself in more trouble. By shooting him, George quickly ends the pain for his best friend. However, he sacrifices the life of a loved one, a dilemma he must handle emotionally. This sacrifice made by George shows great compassion for Lennie’s feelings and great bravery for having the ability to do something so traumatizing.In both novels, Steinbeck conveys the theme of suffering and living through severe hardship. In The Grapes of Wrath, the Joad family, along with several thousand other impoverished farming families, suffered the most from being manipulated and taken advantage of by the government. As the government and banks became more greedy and authoritative over the farmers, the farmers were pushed further into extreme poverty. The farmers resorted to whatever they could come by to survive through the hunger, pain, and anguish. The farmers began observing that, “in the eyes of the people there is the failure; and in the eyes of the hungry there is a growing wrath. In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and… growing heavy for the vintage” (Grapes 449). Steinbeck expresses that as the people are repeatedly abused by the bank’s power, they will eventually grow tired of taking the maltreatment, and they will desire a change. Their tolerance grows thin as the grapes get heavier, metaphorically. The heavy grapes symbolize the burden the government workers put on the farmers through their greediness. Soon enough the grapes will be ready to be picked for the vintage; soon enough, the farmers will be ready for a revolution. In Of Mice and Men, Lennie is repetitively tormented by his disability. Due to his compulsion for petting soft objects, he likes to carry around animals such as mice and puppies, whether they are dead or alive. He constantly finds himself in trouble because he does not know his own strength, and he kills several animals unintentionally. Lennie even killed Curley’s wife, who allowed him to feel her soft hair. Ultimately, this hardship led to Lennie’s downfall in the end, when the mob chased him for killing Curley’s wife.In The Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck’s style and format is exceptionally distinct. He uses the intercalary chapter format throughout the book, alternating between an observation of society as a whole and a detailed description of the Joad family’s quest to the west. The intercalary style of this book is effective in explaining the context of the story of the Joad family. As the family treks across America, they are conflicted by the woes of the Great Depression. The broad chapters in the novel provide a background and an evaluation of the rest of the farmers and government through symbolism and metaphors. However, this style may be unappealing for some readers, as it greatly extends the length of the story and turns the reading into a seemingly daunting task to complete. Steinbeck also uses Oklahoman dialect in the dialogue of the characters to emphasize the setting and time period. Tom encountered an Oklahoman man in California, who warned him, “Okie use’ ta mean you was from Oklahoma. Now it means you’re a dirty son-of-a-bitch. Okie means you’re a scum. Don’t mean nothing itself, it’s the way they say it” (Grapes 264-265). This man shows Tom that “Okie” is just a word, but the way the Californians say it puts an offensive connotation behind the word. The man also speaks in a Southern dialect to emphasize the offense in the term “Okie” because he is an “Okie” as well.In Of Mice and Men, the stylistic format used is different from the other book in many ways. This novel is a story told chronologically about George and Lennie, two friends who depend on one another to survive the brutality during the Great Depression. The novel is a relatively short story in comparison to The Grapes of Wrath because it focuses on only the experiences of George and Lennie in a small time period. The dialogue in this book is effective in telling the story because it creates a more personal perspective for the reader. By telling the story from the characters’ points of view, the connection between the author’s message and the story is more precise. The author accurately shows the characters’ feelings, thoughts, and interactions between one another through their dialogue instead of often being ambiguous through narrations. When George tells Lennie, “Don’t let him pull you in – but — if the son-of-a-bitch socks you — let ’im have it,” (Mice 33) it directly shows George’s proud yet vengeful attitude. George looks out for Lennie and guides him through the conflict with Curley. This is directly shown through his dialogue, whereas the alternative would have been more ambiguous, indirect, and lengthy.Although they have very different stylistic formats, The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men have several similar themes. The theme of pursuing the American Dream is present in both books, although they all suffer through the destitution of living in the Great Depression. Throughout the relationships between the characters, unity is especially important, as well as compassion for one another. In the 1930s, farmers were repressed by the banks and the government. The two novels reflect upon people’s ability to unite and their strength upon doing so. The citizens, in mass numbers, have the potential to overrule corruption in the government and in banks, but the power of the people is rarely used with such intentions. If each person recognized “that companion fact: when a majority of the people are hungry and cold they will take by force what they need. And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history: repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed” (Grapes 306), then governments would no longer be so controlling in people’s lives. Steinbeck portrays that the government’s attempts to keep the people repressed only unite everyone with a common interest: being freed from repression. People also overlook their capability to resolve issues; many believe they are not influential enough, but in reality, working together is the most effective form of opposition to the government. Today, several conflicts in society could easily be fixed if every individual worked together to fix them. However, most often, people continue in their own paths, and they are not willing to work together until the situation becomes an absolute crisis.

The Missing Hand: Disconnection in Of Mice and Men

In Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, the characters’ hands represent all that is wrong with the men and their society. Lennie’s paws, Candy’s missing hand, and Curley’s gloved limb, the characters’ pathology reveals itself in ways that are more telling that any written description could offer. From the moment of his first appearance, the metaphors that Steinbeck uses to describe Lennie compare him to an animal. He drags “his feet a little, the way a bear drags his paws” (2). Lennie has hands, but he doesn’t use them, choosing instead to drink from the water in the clearing “like a horse” (3). When he does dip a hand into the water, it is to wiggle his fingers so that the water splashes (3). None of this is particularly noteworthy until George takes his own turn to drink at the pool. In contrast to Lennie, George uses his hands to cup some water and “drink with quick scoops” (3). Lennie ignores the use of his hands, giving up the role of human to act more like an animal. Steinbeck uses this disuse of the human hand to characterize Lennie as something less than human.He continues this idea with the other denizens of the ranch. When Candy first guides Lennie and George to their new quarters in the bunkhouse, Steinbeck directs the reader’s attention to his work clothing and the broom that he carries in his left hand (18). This is only a prelude, however, to the revelation that Candy is missing his right hand. When he points with his right arm, what emerges from his sleeve is a “round stick-like wrist, but no hand” (18). Steinbeck calls further attention to the missing limb when he describes Candy’s movement so that he can take the can that George hands him: “The old swamper shifted his broom and held it between his elbow and his side while he held out his hand for the can” (18). Candy’s missing hand is the most important detail about him, one that Steinbeck repeatedly emphasizes in his descriptions of the man. This serves to characterize Candy as a man who is not whole, both literally and figuratively. Candy is missing a hand, but he is also missing life. He has no relatives (59), and his offer to buy into the ranch with George and Lennie is evidence of his loneliness. Candy has money in the bank, but he has nothing to spend it on, and no one to share it with. His missing hand is symbolic of all that he is missing in life. He is desperate to reach out to someone, but, ironically, he cannot connect with those around him. This idea continues to descriptions of Curley, evident even before George and Lennie meet him for the first time. Candy describes Curley as “handy;” someone who’s “done quite a bit in the ring” (26). Steinbeck also includes the detail regarding Curley’s left hand, the one that the new husband is “keepin’…soft for his wife” (27). As with Lennie and Candy, Steinbeck characterizes Curley almost exclusively in terms of his hands, specifically in the way that he uses them to create conflict with others. Curley boxes with his hands, and even though he might think of the Vaseline on one hand as the mark of a lover, he uses that supposed love for his wife as an excuse to attack others. This pathology of the missing hands allows the author to comment upon society as well. These men are missing hands because something has taken them away. Through society’s misunderstanding of Lennie’s mental condition, it has removed his humanity. Candy has lost his hand in a work-related accident, and his status seems indicative of an aging population who has no one to take care of them, and no means of independent living. Curley has succumbed to a twisted ideal of what a man should be, lost in society’s requirement for him to aggressively assert his masculinity at every opportunity. In characterizing these men, Steinbeck is sounding a warning about the dangers of treating people as only parts of themselves, rather than considering the whole. Steinbeck characterizes a group of men who are each missing something important. The hand that each man lacks means more than just a physical imperfection. Instead, these literal and figurative missing limbs demonstrate the men’s emotional distance, even when what each of them wants is a connection to someone or something. Each of these men is missing a hand in some way, and missing a connection to other humans that could have been their salvation.

The Lost American Dream

It is the natural inclination of all men to dream. Some may have short-term goals, and others may have life-long ambitions. Despite what cynics say, the American people are hopeful and waiting for something great. In Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck paints a portrait of characters who, longing for something outside of their monotonous lives, each have a lost dream that supports Steinbeck’s view that the American dream is a lost cause.Lennie’s dream to tend to rabbits does not come true because of his own deficiencies and the obstacles of society. As Lennie and George, Lennie’s companion and protector, travel through the woods to their next ranch-hand job, George confronts Lennie about keeping a dead mouse in his pocket and demands Lennie hand it over, “Lennie hesitate[s], back[s] away, look[s] wildly at the brush line as though he contemplated running for his freedom.” George insists, “The mouse ain’t fresh, Lennie; and besides, you’ve broke it pettin’ it,” and reminds Lennie of his past history of killing mice, so, then “Lennie look[s] sadly up at him… ‘I’d pet em,’ and pretty soon they bit my fingers and I pinched their heads a little and then they was dead'” (9-10). Lennie, who has a fetish for soft things, has the severe deficiency that he does not realize his own strength. His dream to own rabbits is important to him because he wants something to be responsible for, but it is obvious by his past history of roughness, and even his reluctance to hand the mouse over to George, that he is too reckless for his dream to ever to come true. In a conversation between Lennie and Curley’s wife, Curley’s wife tells Lennie that she has soft hair and that he may pet it, so, “Lennie’s big fingers fell to stroking her hair… Lennie said, ‘Oh! That’s nice,’ and he stroked harder… And then [Curley’s wife] cried out angrily, ‘You stop it now, you’ll mess it all up.’ She jerked her head sideways and Lennie’s fingers closed on her hair and hung on. ‘Let go,’ she cried. ‘You let go!'” (99). Lennie panics, and, in an effort to silence her, shakes her so hard that he breaks her neck, showing that he has absolutely no self-control. He does not stop petting Curley’s wife’s hair when she asks him to, even demands him to, partly because he is too dumb, but also because he lacks the physical capacity to control himself. Although Lennie is inherently innocent, his dumbness and lack of self-control combined with his obsession with soft things and his unknown strength, produce a deadly formula. Unfortunately for Lennie, society does not understand his mental handicap (earlier in the book George makes reference to the fact that Lennie was kicked in the head as a boy), and because he murdered Curley’s wife, George must shoot him. Before George shoots him, Lennie asks him to recite their shared dream aloud, “‘We gonna get a little place,’ George began… He reached in his side pocket and brought out [the gun]… ‘Look down there acrost the river, like you can almost see the place.’ …And George raised the gun and steadied it, and he brought the muzzle of it close to the back of Lennie’s head… He pulled the trigger” (117). Lennie’s dream is his security blanket. His only measure of the seriousness of his actions is how it will affect his dream, and in his last moments of life, he asks to hear about it, still is too naive to realize that surely now it can never come true. After George pulls the trigger, Lennie dies along with the lost dream. For Lennie, the American dream is dead.Crooks’ dream does not come true for different reasons. A lonely man desperate for companionship, he has the ambition to work on George and Lennie’s future farm that will never become reality. When Lennie first tells Crooks about his and George’s plan to buy a piece of land, Crooks reacts, “You’re nuts… I seen hundreds of men come by on the road an’ on the ranches, with their bindles on their back an’ that same [darn] thing in their heads… An’ never a [darn] one of them ever gets it”. Crooks’s pattern of pessimism and negativity brings him down, and he even attempts to dampen the hopes of those around him, relating to Lennie that “hundreds” of men have passed through the ranch, all of them with dreams similar to Lennie’s, but not one of them, he emphasizes resentfully, ever manages to make that dream come true. However, when he hears more of the plan, he offers, “If you… guys would want a hand to work for nothing-just his keep, why I’d come an’ lend a hand” (80, 84). A plan so daring and uncertain requires its followers to have absolute faith. Crooks, who never believes in the plan from the very start, has a great chance of suddenly giving up again. Crooks’ physical disability along with his race will prevent him from reaching his dream. Steinbeck narrates, “Crooks, the Negro stable buck, had his bunk in the harness room; a little shed that leaned off the wall of the barn… His body was bent over to the left by his crooked spine” (73). Crooks is not allowed in the bunkhouse with the white ranch hands and remains in a forced isolated state. He wants a place where he can be independent and have some security, but there is no security for a black man in a prejudiced world, least of all one with a crooked back. Farm work requires strength and physical endurance, and though Crooks offers to do odd jobs for George and Lennie, he would only end up hindering them with his disability. While Lennie, Candy, and Crooks fantasize about the land they hope to have one day, Curley’s wife enters and makes attempts to draw all attention to herself. When Crooks tells her to leave, “She turned on him in scorn. ‘Listen, Nigger… You know what I can do to you if you open your trap?’ Crooks stared hopelessly at her… ‘Yes ma’am.'” Curley’s wife retorts, “‘Well, you keep your place then,’ … Crooks had reduced himself to nothing. There was no personality, no ego-nothing to arouse either like or dislike. He said, ‘Yes, ma’am,’ and his voice was toneless” (88-89). The fact that Crooks is black cements his fate, and he realizes this. The moment Curley’s wife, who on a larger scale actually represents all society, brings Crooks back to reality and keeps him down in his place, he loses the little bit of hope he had gained and again becomes nothing. The American dream that everyone has equal opportunity to achieve his goal through hard work and determination is dead to Crooks. Crooks’ pessimism, physical disability, and race prevent him from reaching his dream.Though Curley’s wife, who walks the ranch as a temptress, seems to be cold and cruel, she too has a lost dream. Continuously throughout the novel, Curley’s wife reminds those around her about the time a man came through town and told her that she could be a star. Another man told her that she was a natural and promised to write, but the letter never came. She tells Lennie, “I always thought my ol’ lady stole it. Well, I wasn’t going to stay no place where I couldn’t get nowhere or make something of myself… So I married Curley. Met him out to the Riverside Dance Palace that same night,” (97). Curley’s wife is a poor decision-maker because she does not think out her actions. Instead of pursuing her dream by taking acting lessons or moving to Hollywood, she marries Curley the same night she met him. Entering the marriage, she believes it is a means of escape, but she only ends up stuck in Salinas, even more tied down. In not giving Curley’s wife a name, Steinbeck makes Curley’s wife a universal character; she represents every woman. Curley’s wife has no personal identity; she is only identified with her husband. A woman who does not have even an identity can never make it big or even on her own. Later, in the same barn scene, Curley’s wife flirts with Lennie and encourages him to pet her hair. When she tells him to stop, Lennie becomes frightened and breaks her neck. Steinbeck describes, “Curley’s wife lay with a half-covering of yellow hay. And 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,” (101). Even before Curley’s wife dies, she is bound to remain in the same circumstance her entire life, never able to make anything of herself. Only in Curley’s wife’s death does Steinbeck grant her virtue, because only then does she dies does she regain her innocence. Her dream is lost forever, and now without all her plans for the future she becomes fully human. Steinbeck seems to show through her that even the worst of us have our humanity. For Curley’s wife, the American dream to rise out of one’s humble roots will never be a reality.Lennie, Crooks, and Curley’s wife all have lost dreams because of their own personal deficiencies and those society forces on them. To them, the American dream is dead. Although the loss of dreams is depressing, all men must eventually face this harsh reality of life.

Camaraderie: Deciding an Individual’s Fate

Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath, two novels published concurrently by John Steinbeck, both depict camaraderie between dust bowl migrants. The main characters in Of Mice and Men, George and Lennie, form a bond, while struggling to reach their goal, a small farm. Similarly, Jim Casy of The Grapes of Wrath befriends Tom Joad, a friendship eventually uplifting the whole migrant community. Outwardly, the two relationships may seem to parallel each other. In reality, these alliances differ greatly. Consequently, in Of Mice and Men, friendship leads to destruction, in The Grapes of Wrath, salvation. Starkly contrasting George and Lennie’s relationship in Of Mice and Men to Tom and Jim Casy’s in The Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck unquestionably shows that camaraderie decides an individual’s fate. To begin, George and Lennie interact quite differently from Tom and Casy; the former share a master-slave relationship, while the latter, a more equal relationship. For instance, George orders Lennie to ìsay nothingî(6), upon reaching the ranch where they will work, fearing that if “[the boss] finds out what a crazy bastard [Lennie is], [they] won’t get no job” (6). Lennie obeys. Later on, when Lennie innocently calls Curley’s wife, the flirtatious daughter-in-law of the ranch owner, “purty” (32), George fiercely admonishes Lennie to not “even look at that bitch” (32), once again demonstrating a master-slave relationship. In contrast, Tom and Casy, engage in an equal relationship; in fact, Tom candidly tells Casy, a one-time preacher, now philosopher, his opinion of Casy’s philosophy, throughout The Grapes of Wrath. For example, when Casy explains to Tom his idea that “maybe all men got one big soul ever’body’s a part of”(33), Tom openly replies, “you can’t hold no church with idears like that” (33). Moreover, Casy never forces Tom to do anything, contrasting their relationship to George and Lennie’s relationship. Actually, at the conclusion of The Grapes of Wrath, Casy only requests Tom to “- tell the folks [in the ranch] how it is – Tell ’em their starvin’ [the protesters] an’ stabbin’ theirself in the back” (523); Tom replies “I’ll try to get to tell the folks” (523). Clearly, Tom and Casy’s equal relationship sets them apart from George and Lennie’s master-slave interaction. These relationships, in turn, decide the fate of the respective characters. Not only do the relationships contrast each other, they also shape the people involved differently. In The Grapes of Wrath, Tom Joad transforms from self-centered person to a martyr for all “Okie” (280) people, because of his companionship with Casy. Initially, a very hedonistic Tom remarks, “Maybe I should of been a preacher – I been a long time without a girl” (31). This self-indulgent outlook gives way to a broader, all-encompassing attitude, as Casy’s philosophy influences him. Before leaving his family, in the concluding chapters of The Grapes of Wrath, Tom explains to his mother, “Maybe like Casy says, a fella ain’t got a soul of his own, but a big piece of one” (572), he even adds “God, I’m talkin’ like Casy – comes to thinkin’ about him so much” (572). Obviously, Tom’s camaraderie with Casy transforms Tom for the better; however, in Of Mice and Men, George virtually crushes Lennie’s free will, making Lennie completely dependent upon him. For example, Lennie initially threatens to “go off in the hills an’ find a cave” (12), whenever George treats him cruelly; thereby, Lennie exerts a measure of freedom. However, as the story progresses, Lennie seems to have no will of his own. In fact, when Curley, the ranch owner’s belligerent son, fights with Lennie, George must command Lennie to “get ‘im” (63); subsequently, when Lennie nearly kills Curley, George must order Lennie to “leggo of him” (63). Therefore, Lennie’s transformation reflects his relationship with George, a master-slave partnership, transforming Lennie for the worse. Later on, in each novel, the deaths that occur reflect the wide gulf between the respective associations. Finally, Casy and Lennie’s deaths contrastingly impact each relationship; Lennie’s death for the worse, Casy’s death for the better. In Of Mice and Men, Lennie’s unswerving devotion to George leads to his own death, when Curley’s wife flirts with him. At first, Lennie scorns her advances saying “[if] George sees me talkin’ to you, he’ll give me hell” (87). Curley’s wife persists, even letting Lennie stroke her hair. When Lennie pulls to hard on her hair, she beings to scream, scaring Lennie; Lennie believes that if George hears her screaming, George won’t let him ìtend the rabbitsî(87), at their dream ranch. In a moment of confusion, Lennie accidentally kills Curley’s wife; then, he goes to “hide in the brush till [George] comes” (92), carrying out George’s instructions to the letter. Sadly, George, Lennie’s so-called friend, shoots Lennie, when he comes to the brush. Lennie’s death sharply contrasts Casy’s death, which inspires Tom to champion the ìOkieî(280) cause. Throughout The Grapes of Wrath, Casy’s philosophy affects Tom subtle ways. Casy’s death acts as a catalyst, making Tom realize the truth behind Casy’s theories. However, both deaths influence the respective relationships differently; Lennie’s negatively, Casy’s positively. Thus, John Steinbeck deliberately contrasts George and Lennie’s master-slave relationship to Tom and Casy’s equal relationship, to show that camaraderie shapes a character’s fate. Both Casy and George cause changes in Tom and Lennie, respectively. However, Tom changes from a hedonistic individual to a martyr for the “Okie”(280) peoples; contrastingly, George affects a negative change is Lennie. Lennie, who has some degree of free will initially, becomes completely dependent upon George. In both cases, the old adage, “Beware of the company you keep” holds true, for the company the characters keep eventually transforms them for the better or for the worse.

Power and Impairment: Comparing “Johnny Bear” and Of Mice and Men

John Steinbeck incorporates disabilities within his stories with characters like Johnny Bear and Lennie Small from his works and “Johnny Bear” Of Mice and Men. Lennie from Of Mice and Men is a mentally handicapped giant of a man who has the very simple life goal of having a rabbit farm. Johnny, much like Lennie has a mental inadequacy. Unlike Lennie, Johnny has other goals, ambitions, and means to get them. However when both use their power without restraint or reason it ultimately leads to their demise. Steinbeck makes disabilities into a conflict between characters in his works “Johnny Bear” and Of Mice and Men.

Steinbeck incorporates the character Johnny, the main conflict in the short story “Johnny Bear,” who has a disability that makes him not intelligent; however, he applies his one major skill to achieve what he wants in life. The narration describes Johnny Bear is as not “[having] brains enough to make anything up”(“Johnny Bear” 105), and thus characterizes him as not having much intelligence but relying on his natural skill to go through day to day life. Johnny is also described as being “like an animal” (“Johnny Bear” 107) which displays him going off of instinct instead of intelligence. Johnny compensates for his lack of intellect with his special imitation skill. Johnny’s skill is so developed to the point that it is as if the person he was imitating’s voice is “coming out of the throat of Johnny Bear, [their] words, [their] intonation”(“Johnny Bear” 104). Even though his disability is that he can not think for himself, he engages his physical skill to push past his impairments to get what he wants. The one thing that Johnny Bear wants is whisky. When Johnny activates his imitation skill he expects whisky as payment and goes “from face to face expectantly, and as[ks], ‘Whisky?’” (“Johnny Bear” 104). This occurs many times throughout the story, and the only words of his own are “Whisky?” (“Johnny Bear” 104), which depicts how that is all that he wants and he will abuse his natural skill to acquire what it. When Johnny Bear is “on business [he] move[s] like [there is] no movement at all… [even] dogs are afraid of Johnny” (“Johnny Bear” 105). Johnny applies his physical talent as though it is his business and the currency he lives to earn is alcohol. Johnny may not be very intelligent even to a normal human level, but like an animal he uses physical talent to overcome his mental challenges to accomplish his goals.

Steinbeck elsewhere depicts the character of Lennie, who much like Johnny is not rational enough to think for himself, but he uses his physical strength to achieve his dreams. Comparatively, Lennie is not quite as uncivilized as Johnny Bear as seen by his ability to speak. In the beginning, when George is walking and “stop[s] short in the clearing, […] [Lennie] nearly r[uns] over him”(Of Mice and Men 2; ch.1). This quote makes it clear that Lennie is not smart. Lennie, unlike Johnny, is able to sometimes think for himself and speak which shows his intellect is greater than Johnny’s. Lennie’s ability is physical strength and he applies that power to his work. Lennie has been called “Strong as a bull” (Of Mice and Men 22; ch.2) after doing his bailing work. That, assumedly not a hyperbole, shows his pure strength that he uses throughout the story. Another thing that shows his raw power is that he would “pet [mice], and pretty soon they [bite] [his] fingers and [he] pinched their heads a little and then they d[ied]”(Of Mice and Men 10; ch.1). He uses his strength to work towards his dream in life which is to own rabbits. Lennie always is talking about “rabbits”(Of Mice and Men 57; ch.3) and how he is going to “take care of ‘em”(Of Mice and Men 57; ch.3). This repetition shows how has a longing for rabbits and to take care of them which is in a way his dream. Another thing that is clear is that Lennie knows he can not think for himself very well so he relies on George, which is why he always seeks to stay on Georges good side. Lennie “can’t remember nothing that happens, but… remember[s] ever’ word [George] say[s]”(Of Mice and Men 103; ch.6), which displays his want to keep George happy even at the expense of remembering things. One day, when George stands by a river with Lennie and George tells Lennie to jump in and “[Lennie] jumps” and he “near[ly] drown[s] before [George] [can] get him” he “clean forg[ets that George] told him to jump in” (Of Mice and Men 40; ch.3). This quote makes clear Lennie’s allegiance to George and no matter what he always wants to keep it that way because he knows George intellect is greater than his own. Lennie plans to accomplish his dreams of getting a farm by working, harnessing his strength to his advantage even though he has the disadvantage of his mental limitations. When working Steinbeck describes Lennie as a “hell of a good worker”(Of Mice and Men 22; ch.2) and “can put up more grain alone than most pairs can” (Of Mice and Men 34; ch.2). Such content depicts how he has strength far superior to many men. Lennie, even though smarter than Johnny Bear, faces his own challenges but like Johnny he uses his physical ability to overcome such obstacles.

Furthermore, the similarities between Lennie and Johnny Bear grow deeper in the end when the abilities they operate to beat their disabilities get them in trouble. When Johnny exerts his mimicking without reason, he has no idea what he is saying, so when he says something controversial assault ensues. When the truths that Alex, an acquaintance of the main character, did not want to hear are revealed he beats Johnny up until “Johnny Bear crumple[s]” (“Johnny Bear” 120). This presents that the greatest strength of Johnny leads to his ultimate downfall. On the other hand, Lennie just wants to pet soft things, like mice, and when he ends up killing them because he has no restraints, such a pattern of action leads to his end. Lennie is known to kill many mice over the course of the story but when he kills his puppy he knows he is on the downward slope and is bitter that the dog got “killed [and it] ain’t so little as mice [and Lennie] didn’t bounce [the dog] hard…now maybe George ain’t gonna let [Lennie] tend no rabbits, if he fin’s out [the dog] got killed” (Of Mice and Men 85; ch.5). This clearly shows he doesn’t have any grip on his power and when Lennie took petting Curly’s wife’s hair too far by “[breaking] her neck”(Of Mice and Men 91; ch.5). yet even though he kills her he still worries that “George gonna say [he] done a bad thing [and George ain’t gonna let [Lennie] tend no rabbits”(Of Mice and Men 90; ch.5). As a result, George has to put him down like an animal out of control. Therefore, Lennie’s dream is ended because of his violence that he can not control because of his lack of mental restraint. However, unlike Johnny someone was there for Lennie when they took him out because he had enough mental capacity to be nice and make others like him. In the end “George rais[es] the gun and his hand sh[akes]” yet Lennie still wonders “how’s it gonna be… [Lennie and George will] have… [a] little piece [of] alfalfa—’ ‘For the rabbits”(Of Mice and Men 105; ch.6). Even when George has to put down Lennie for getting out of control Lennie still holds on to his dreams until the very end as that is all he can think about as he has his mind set on it. Ironically, what had brought his end is what he tried to use to get his dream. Between Lennie and Johnny, the connection they share is the physical powers that they wield to overcome their disadvantages which also bring the end of their own personal life goals.

Ultimately, Steinbeck portrays characters with mental disabilities to create conflict through their seemingly “basic” behavior and tendencies. Both Johnny and Lennie and react in a thoughtless manor in an attempt to achieve their own goals. Their attempts prove meaningless because they do not know to conduct themselves in a way that is civil which leads to their undoing. All in all, Steinbeck explores disabilities with characters like Johnny Bear and Lennie Small to create the theme that physical power without mental reason or restraint is a double edged sword.

Works Cited

Steinbeck, John. Of Mice and Men. Penguin, 1993.

Steinbeck, John. “Johnny Bear.” Johnny Bear, Introduction and Notes by John H. Timmerman, Penguin, 1966, pp.101-120.

Of Mice and Men, and Racism: Analyzing the Character of Crooks

Throughout the novella “Of Mice and Men,” Steinbeck uses the character of crooks to highlight the racial discrimination in 1930s America. During the great depression Black Americans faced hostility, bigotry and persecution. In Southern states, Jim Crow laws bolstered racial segregation and groups such as the Ku Klux Klan were extremely active. Despite his own humanism, Steinbeck does not systematically aim to write either for or against racism but simply portrays the harsh reality of the time. As a reader we begin to see the psychological and emotional impact that this has on Crooks.

During the 1930s for most white Americans, racism was normal. Blacks were “inferior” according to the popular prejudices of the time. The realism of dialogue in “Of Mice and Men” highlights this unfortunate historical context well. Steinbeck imitates the way the ranch hands really spoke giving us an accurate insight into the context of the novel. In 186 pages Crooks is referred to as ‘nigger’ 16 times. When Candy mentions Crooks for the first time in section two, he says “Ya see the stable buck’s a nigger.” However, he immediately follows up by saying that crooks is a “Nice fella too.” This perfectly displays the normality of racism in the 1930s. Candy has great respect for Crooks and is not using the word “nigger” as an offensive slur (as it is seen in the 21st century) but simply as part of his day to day language. The reader never learns Crooks’ real name; Crooks is most likely a nickname because “he’s got a crooked back where a horse kicked him”. He is only ever identified by his colour and his job. The constant referral to him as “the stable buck” or “the nigger” whether used in a derogatory manner or not perfectly illustrates the constant dehumanisation of black Americans in the time the novella is set.

In section four, the theme of racial prejudice is explored in depth, giving the reader an insight into Crooks as a character for the first time. The scene is set, crooks is alone in his “bunk in the harness room; a little shed that leaned of the barn” The description of crooks’ room is of great importance. We are told that he possesses a “tattered dictionary and a mauled copy of the California civil code for 1905”. This indicates that he wants to be aware of the few rights he has as a black man. Unlike the other men, he obviously makes an effort to educate himself. His room is segregated from the others but more importantly it is part of the barn; perhaps a subtle reference to the fact that despite the abolition of slavery in 1865 as a black man he is still treated and given the same level of respect as an animal. He even shares his medical supplies with animals; in the “apple box over his bunk” there is a “range of medicines, both for himself and the horses”. Crooks’ is described as “a proud aloof man. He kept his distance and demanded that others kept theirs.” For the first time this shows how has been pushed away by everyone else therefore he pushes others away to protect himself. His “pain tightened lips” indicate he is a man who has suffered, hinting at the difficult life he has likely endured as a black man.

It is a Saturday night and all the men have gone into town to spend their earnings except the three mentally or physically impaired “outcasts” of the farm- Lennie, Candy and Crooks. When Lennie visits Crooks in his room, at first he is fiercely defensive of it. Despite Lennie smiling “helplessly in an attempt to make friends, Crooks tells him “you got no right to come in my room. This room’s my room. Nobody got any right in here but me” He turns Lennie away. However, Lennie does not understand the unwritten code of racial segregation and does not leave. Crooks tells him “You go on get outta my room. I ain’t wanted in the bunk house, and you ain’t wanted in my room.” Crooks is obviously resentful because of the unjust treatment he receives as a black man living in 1930s America. His room is his only space, he has so little rights and his frequent referral to his rights indicates that he is clinging onto the rights that he does have. Crooks is painfully self-aware. Lennie asks Crooks “Why ain’t you wanted?” and Crooks replies “Cause I’m black”. The contrast between Lennie’s naivety and Crook’s bitterness emphasises the importance of this point. Lennie is simple, he looks beyond skin colour. Lennie’s “disarming smile” defeats Crooks and his desire for company ultimately wins out. He invites Lennie to sit with him. This reaction begins to reveal Crooks’ loneliness.

However, just as Steinbeck begins to present Crooks as a vulnerable character, shaped by the prejudice of the time he is living in; a character that we begin to feel sympathy towards, we are shown a cruel side to Crooks as he begins to suggest to Lennie that that George might not come back from town. Lennie becomes scared and upset but “Crooks’ face” is described as “lighted with pleasure in his torture”. Crooks is not used to having the “upper hand”. As a black man Crooks is used to being at the very bottom of the hierarchy. He is used feeling weak and vulnerable himself. Crooks uses the given the opportunity to feel superior to someone else. However, as Crooks senses the aura of danger surrounding Lennie, he stops taunting him. He tells Lennie “I didn’t mean to scare you”. Knowing that “ a guy can talk” to Lennie “an’ be sure” he “won’t go blabbing”. Crooks begins to open up, he says “a guy needs somebody – to be near him” and that “a guy goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody”. Here Steinbeck uses emotive verbs describing Crooks as “crying” and “whining” showing the hidden emotional pain that Crooks is in. Despite Lennie being mentally handicapped he has George. As a “nigger” living in a prejudice time it is only inevitable that Crooks will be jealous of this companionship. He tells Lennie “I tell ya a guy gets too lonely an’ he gets sick”. The negative psychological impacts that racial discrimination has on Crooks begin to very obviously surface; starting to give the reader a possible explanation to the cold-hearted way in which he treated Lennie.

As Crooks is opening up, Candy appears at the door. Again, Crooks’ defensive barrier rises. In an “irritable” manner Crooks’ invites Candy in. At first Candy is described as seeming “Embarrassed” it is obvious that both men are uncomfortable. We learn that this is the first time Candy has been in Crooks’ room and the social boundary between them is clear. However, it is revealed that although he masks this with a tough exterior Crooks is secretly pleased to have more company as Steinbeck tells us “It was difficult” for Crooks “to conceal his pleasure with anger”. Candy and Lennie discuss the “dream farm”. Crooks is shown to be wise and observant as he listens to them talk, however he does this with great cynicism. He interrupts “brutally” saying “you guys is just kidding yourself” and makes the harsh comment that “Nobody never gets to heaven, and nobody gets no land.” However, as the two other men talk, Crooks begins to become drawn into the dream. This is an indication that like all the ranch hands, he wants a place where he can have some security and is another massive indicator of his loneliness. Eventually he doubles back on himself by saying “why I’d come an’ lend a hand”. However, this dream is unachievable, there is no security for anyone in a prejudiced world, least of all a black stable hand with a crooked back. Curley’s wife appears and interrupts the men’s daydreaming.

During this section the theme of racial discrimination reaches its height. Curley’s wife says “they left all the weak ones here”, which is in fact the truth. She continues and calls the three “a nigger an’ a dum-dum and a lousy ol’ sheep”. Crooks, however, having been somewhat emboldened by the company of two others suggests to Curley’s wife that maybe she should go to her own house, as they “don’t want no trouble.”. However, he soon oversteps his line as a black man by telling Curley’s wife “you got no rights comin in a coloured mans’ room” “get out quick”. Jolted into that era’s reality by Curley’s wife as she says “you know what I can do to you if you open your trap”. He accepts the fact that he lives with ever-present racial discrimination and just stares “hopelessly” and is metaphorically described as “growing smaller”. Curley’s wife then makes a very real threat, she “puts him in his place” by saying “nigger. I could get you strung up on a tree so easy it aint even funny”. To this, Crooks does not react, as this is his reality; it would have been very easy for her to get a lynch mob together.

Crooks’ situation powerfully reflects the extreme racism of the early 1930s. Most whites believed that blacks were inferior in every way and blacks just accepted this prejudice against them as a way of life. After Curley’s wife’s final threat Steinbeck describes Crooks as having “reduced himself to nothing.” The use of imagery here is powerful. We are told “There was no personality, no ego- nothing to arouse either like or dislike”. This futility shows how little power Crooks has. As Crooks “slowly comes out of the layers of protection he had put on” He dismisses the other men by saying “you guys comin in an settin’ made me forget. What she says is true.” He tells Candy to “jus’ forget” about him helping on the “dream ranch”, protecting himself by claiming he was “just foolin”.

Steinbeck makes us as an audience feel for the character of Crooks through the use colloquial dialogue and nearer the end of the section, strong imagery. Racism feeds into the wider theme of loneliness and as section four progresses it becomes clear that the crippling sense of isolation which Crooks’ faces as a black man has inevitably fed into him to appearing so bitter and gruff. This is not to say Crooks’ does not have his faults. The reader as an individual has to decide whether Crooks deserves sympathy. There is no way of knowing how what Crooks’ personality would be like if he was not born black. It could be argued that perhaps he is just a harsh and cynical person naturally. Crooks’ is intelligent and the way he toys with Lennie’s feelings is cruel. Yet this is likely retribution for his own treatment. Like Curley’s wife, Crooks is a disempowered character who turns his vulnerability into a weapon to attack those who are even weaker. Steinbeck gives us plenty of evidence that Crooks has humanity under his rough exterior. This does not justify his cruel actions, however it is hard not to feel for this ostracised man who has “retired into the protective dignity of a negro”. It is obvious that Crooks has been greatly affected by discrimination, resulting in him being miserable and angry at the unjust society he is living in. He is trapped in a never-ending, vicious cycle; he has been lonely for so long that he almost can’t deal with someone trying to be nice to him. He sadly has no hope of ever seeing a better life, both he and the reader are horribly aware of this.