Of Mice and Men
Analysis Of The Characters Crooks And Curley’s Wife in John Steinbeck’s Novel Of Mice And Men
The Great Depression of the 1930’s was a worldwide phenomenon that was a tough time for people. During this time black people and women in America have been forced to live through poor social conditions.
In John Steinbeck’s novel Of Mice and Men, the characters Crooks and Curley’s wife have similar traits even though one character is a black male and the other, a white woman. They both face loneliness, discrimination, and shattered dreams which makes Crooks and Curley’s wife comparable. The most noticeable difference is that Curley`s wife is a women and Crooks is a black male. Curley’s wife is put on the spot and given value because of who she is and her gender also because she is Curley’s wife. She is given the attention of the men because they don’t dare to say anything to her and they fear that they will be accused of flirting with her. She is treated like an object to be possessed. She feels like she has authority. Listen, Nigger, she said. You know what I can do to you if you open your trap? Crooks stared hopelessly at her, and then he sat down on his bunk and drew into himself. Crooks, on the other hand, has worth and value for other reasons and at least he has a name. Crooks is knownby his job on the farm. For him, we see his permanent status in the items he has gathered over time. He enjoys reading books. Crookshas his own room which could further give him importance, but he sees it as being separated from the other ranch workers. Crooks said sharply, You got no right to come into my room. This here’s my room. Nobody got any right in here but me.
This shows the most significant difference and how Curley’s wife has authority but no name and crooks have no authority and no one is scared of him and he is separated from the others and he can’t really do anything about anything because he is black. Crooks and Curley’s wife both suffer from discrimination around the ranch. Curley’s wife does not have a name. She is displayed as only an item of Curley’s. She is not liked by ranch hands as they only see and think of her as a trap which can get them in trouble. Don’t you even take a look at that bitch. I don’t care what she says or what she does. I seen ’em poison before, but I never see no piece of jail bait worse than her. You leave her be.
Also like Curley’s wife, Crooks is discriminated against and treated unfairly in comparison to the other ranch hands. Crooks isn’t called by his real name either he is referred to Crooks because of his back and sometimes as a nigger This is just a nigger talkin’, an’ a busted-back nigger. So it doesn’t mean nothing, see? This is offensive but he is at the bottom so he really has no authority and he gives no dam. His room is different away from the others as they don’t want anything to do with him. Crooks and Curley`s wife both have to face discrimination and both are barely talked to resulting them to feel like being alone.
Crooks and Curley’s wife are both lonely due to the fact ofbeing discriminated and separatedfrom society. This causes Crooks and Curley’s wife to be very lonely. Curley’s wife is found as a trap which can get them in trouble that means she can’t talk to anybody which causes her to be lonely. Curley’s wife is shown to be coming onto the men and this is how she is viewed, though she is simply just trying to talk to the ranch workers to make conversation and overcome her loneliness. Curley’s wife does want to talk to Curley either because she doesn’t like his personality and the way he expresses himself I never get to talk to nobody. I get awful lonely. Crooks, like Curley’s wife, is also lonely he is the only black man in the ranch. Due to his color, his is looked at differently from the other men and has nobody to talk to. S’pose you didn’t have nobody. S’pose you couldn’t go into the bunkhouse and play rummy ’cause you were black. How’d you like that. Crooks loneliness can be identified whenLennie enters Crooks room. First, he gets mad but he lets Lennie stay and enjoys his company. They both have no oneto talk to or share their feelings with, both in some way are discriminated, and this leads both of them to be lonely.
In the novel John Steinbeck has an excellent way of showing how two people who are very different by lookscan be alike due to their color or gender. The similarities and differences are clear in the novel they both express themselves differently but they have similar traits and they both face discrimination, loneliness and shattered dreams which make Crooks and Curley’s wife comparable. They both face challenges every day and face obstacles to not be lonely because of how women and black people were viewed during The Great Depression.
The Tragedy in Of Mice And Men By John Steinbeck
When a book is considered a tragedy it is because the main character, the hero of our story, a good person goes through a downfall causing the audience to be in suspense and feel sorrow for the character.
In the story, Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck we have the main character Lennie is seen to be the most tragic character in this story because he just wants to pet soft things but never thought that this would lead him to his death. Curley’s wife the only women on the ranch goes through a tragedy herself as well, her tragedy is that she receives racial discrimination and her husband possessiveness, he doesn’t allow her to conversate with any of the other men. Another character, Crooks also receives discrimination because he is the only black man on the ranch. He is also a very lonely person and is always kept to himself and has no friends. Lennie Small is an innocent man who would never do anything to harm anyone intentionally. He is “loyal” to his companion George and can be skeptical at times but he means well. He is also very happy to live out the American dream with George and be able to pet all the soft things that he wants. So, right from the beginning you can see that Lennie is a great guy and that’s until the tragedies come falling into play.
Lennie has this obsessive urge to pet soft things but he is very strong and can get carried away. His urge to pet turns into aggression and he unintentionally causes harm to those around him or to what he is petting. He was petting Curley’s wife’s hair and got carried away and got a little violent causing him to snap her neck leading to her death. After this everybody else on the ranch wanted to get back at Lennie to teach him a lesson so his best friend George, companions of so many years, had to kill his longtime friend. This is very tragic because Lennie really did not mean no harm. He cannot help himself, he has issues and did not deserve to die.
Our second tragedy will start with Curley’s wife. She is known to be the only women on the ranch. She receives a lot of gender and racial slurs from the other men on the ranch as, “jailbait” and “tart”, they say these things to her because they believe she dresses like a whore because she wears a lot of red and ostrich feathers and wears a lot of makeup. Her husband forbids her from speaking to the other men so, she always hangs around the bunk house and asks for Curley as an excuse to talk to the others. On top of her husband not allowing her to speak to anyone he does not spend time with her himself and is usually not even in her presence. She really feels alone and she feels as if she lost all her dreams. Before, she desired to be famous and wanted to make it big and declined a man who wanted to help her fulfill that dream. Instead she marries Curley, to get back at her mother, a man she does not even like to talk to or be around because he is so belligerent. She is sadly killed by Lennie who broke her neck accidentally while petting her hair and she talking to him.
Curley’s Wife’s story is very pitiful because her life never worked out how she wanted it to. She never got her dream job, did not marry the guy she wanted to, could not conversate with others and when she did the man broke her neck and she died. Crooks, the saddest and loneliest person in our story. He is a major victim of racial discrimination and was rather lonely but by choice. He preferred to keep his distance and advised everyone else to keep their distance as well. He had no friends on the ranch and was always alone until one day he decided he wanted to join George, Candy, and Lennie in pursuing the american dream but, that quickly got shot down when George was being racist to him. Crooks is never invited to any of the meetings or card games. Even when he does receive kindness he still takes it as hate after so many years of being treated like a waste. He receives the most hate from Curley’s wife all the time. Mom stop discrimination. All crooks ever wanted was to be treated equally just like he was when he was younger. Then, he finally stands up to Curley’s wife for teasing Lennie because of his rabbits she quickly shoots him down by saying that she can and will get him lynched.
This tragedy is very unfair and nobody deserves to be treated the way Crook was treated and when he had the guts to stand up for himself he got threatened with his life. In conclusion, the story Of Mice and Men is a very tragic story because the people in the story did not deserve anything that happened to them. It is also very tragic because of the way the people died in the story.
Demonstration of a Concept of Destructive Dream in the Novel Of Mice and Men
The definition of a “dream” according to Merriam Webster is, “Just a series of thoughts, images, and sensations occurring in a person’s mind during sleep.” This definition takes no part in associating with goals or aspirations. So, why is it so common for people to perceive goals as dreams when, in reality, there is no connection? Originally, realists began calling their goals, “dreams” because they acknowledged the fact that their goals were consistently too difficult or impractical to ever achieve in their lifetime, they comprehend that most of their goals can only be achieved in an unconscious dream state. While the word “dream” sounds positive, it’s actually just a term subtly reminding everybody that they will never be able to accomplish their goals. Perished dreams can haunt and linger in your thoughts, which can lead to poor life decisions and overall discontent. These concepts are thoroughly expressed in Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck and A Dream Deferred by Langston Hughes. Steinbeck’s story is set during the Great Depression and follows two migrant workers who face conflict while working on a ranch. A woman married to the son of the ranch owner referred to as “Curley’s Wife” is unable to stop obsessing how her life would have been different, had she achieved her dream to become an actress. This obsession lead to feeble life decisions and eventually, her brutal death. A Dream Deferred is written from the perspective of a person wondering what unfortunate events occur when somebody fails to accomplish their dreams. Hughes uses metaphors and imagery to demonstrate the possible negative effects that a fallen dream have on a person. Steinbeck and Hughes use various literary elements such as repetition, metaphors, and imagery to demonstrate the idea that failed dreams are grievous burdens that will linger and haunt for the remainder of one’s life, and may even leave a person filled with agony and regret.
Steinbeck’s depiction of Curley’s Wife demonstrates the extreme and damaging effects that a failed dream can have on an individual. Steinbeck uses repetition of the word, “coulda,” in Curley’s Wife’s dialogue to demonstrate how often Curley’s Wife thought about her failed dream. When talking to Lennie, Curley’s Wife says, “Coulda been in the movies… I coulda sat in them big hotels… When they had them previews I coulda went to them(Steinbeck 89).” The constant thoughts of what “could have been” cause Curley’s Wife to become discontent with her life and make miserable life decisions such as choosing to marry Curley. There were two instances where Curley’s Wife had the opportunity to achieve her dreams of becoming a Hollywood actress. The first occasion was when Curley’s Wife was fifteen, an actor asked her to join his show and travel with them, but her mother wouldn’t allow it. On the second occasion, a “guy in pitchers” said he was going to put Curley’s Wife in a movie and write to her about it, she never received the letter and blamed her mother for taking it. Curley’s Wife was erroneously motivated by her fallen dreams and made the disastrous life decision to marry Curley the same night she met him, just to spite her mother. When talking to Lennie, Curley’s Wife says, “I don like Curley. He ain’t a nice fella.(Steinbeck 89)” Curley’s Wife’s opinion of her husband further demonstrates that she wouldn’t have married him if she had become an actress. Curley’s Wife’s failure to achieve her dreams slowly constructed a chain reaction that provoked her death. Curley’s Wife marries Curley out of spite, Curley only lets her talk to him, which causes her to grow lonely and feel the need to seek attention from Lennie, and results in her violent death. The downfall of Curley’s Wife’s life transpired when she gave up on chasing her dreams and married Curley as a result, which demonstrates the vital importance of chasing dreams. The failed attempt to become an actress governed Curley’s Wife’s decisions and thoughts, and eventually consumed her entire life.
Hughes uses imagery and metaphors to reflect the unfortunate effects of fallen dreams. The narrator is wondering what happens when somebody is unable to achieve their dreams. Hughes compares abandoned dreams to the smell of rotten meat in the metaphor, “Does it stink like rotten meat?”(Hughes 5).
Rotten meat suggests a great deal, perhaps Hughes is reminding us that the “meat” is rotten and not thrown away, making the distinction that A Dream Deferred is about a dream being ignored, not a failed dream. The distinct and worsening scent of rotten meat is often considered a reminder that the meat needs to be either cooked or thrown away, similar to way people choose to either chase their dreams or give up on them. Hughes sparks the reader’s sense of smell to convey deaths close association with rotten meat, suggesting that a forgotten dream is not far from dying. Hughes uses imagery to compare fallen dreams to a dried up raisin by asking, “Does it dry up/like a raisin in the sun?” (Hughes 2-3). Hughes is visually implying that an raisins are like dreams. Dreams are similar to raisins in the sense that grapes start out large and full, and gradually become small and withered by losing their juice. Hughes uses imagery and metaphors to visually and descriptively express how failed dreams can eat away at people who give up on them.
Of Mice and Men and A Dream Deferred demonstrate the vitality of chasing your dreams by revealing the harrowing consequences many face through repetition, imagery, and metaphors. The harsh reality of failure that these stories express may motivate its readers through fear of consequences to chase their dreams and not give up on them. A person not being able to achieve their dreams is far from uncommon, thus, people should educate themselves of the possible unappealing consequences of a failed dream. In the long run, Steinbeck and Hughes highlight the vital fact that achieving your dreams could mean the difference between a prospering life, and a life full of regret.
Of Mice and Men – Discussion
The novella “Of Mice and Men” written by John Steinbeck in 1937 is undoubtedly one of the most famous pieces of literature from the 20th century. A handful of authors are remembered as well as Steinbeck, each of them for their own contributions. But unlike James Joyce, who was famous for his vivid descriptions and his avant garde modernism, or F. Scott Fitzgerald, who pulled the rug away under people with his flawless writing and new techniques, John Steinbeck hasn’t done anything extraordinary for writing as an art, but rather he owes his success to a never-before-seen ability, timelessly, to know his audience.
“Of Mice and Men” is well written, the story it tells captures and surprises its readers, but time and again, it has been proven that even these qualities, are not a surefire way to be remembered. So why exactly is it, that “Of Mice and Men” has acquired and maintained the status it has? The answer is simple: Relatability. This is not to say that every person who reads the book, can relate to a character or a series of actions. But every citizen of the US of A has been taught from their childhood to be able relate to the feelings the book portrays.
As the inhabitants of a relatively young country, the people of America have an easier time remembering and relating to their ancestors, than people around the world. If one were to ask a Dane whether they relate to their viking ancestors, the answer is likely to be “no”, but if you ask an American whether they relate to the settlers of early America, their answer is likely to be, at least in part, “yes”. It’s a part of American culture to put oneself in the shoes of the settlers. To seek out one’s own frontiers and success, overcoming obstacles and dreaming of bigger things. And that’s exactly the story “Of Mice and Men” tells on a level that everyone can understand it. Putting the dreams of every man, in the mouths of the characters in the book. One can, for instance, take a look at the protagonists George and Lenny. They’re both looking for the same thing: Happiness and success. But at the same time, these things means something different to each of them. George’s vision of happiness is self-sustainability and freedom, where Lenny’s vision of happiness is being with George and tending rabbits. This simple fact is true for every person, the definition of happiness might differ, but happiness is and will be the goal.
This is sadly also where the title comes into play. The title refers to the poem “To a Mouse, On Turning Her Up in Her Nest With a Plough” (or just “To a Mouse”) written by Robert Burns in 1785. The poem shortly tells the story of a young man who overturns soil with a plough and, in the process, accidentally destroys a mouse’s nest. More specifically, the title of Steinbeck’s book refers to a stanza in the poem that goes “The best laid schemes of mice and men / Go often askew”, which is the second grand message in Steinbeck’s novella. No matter how close one gets, how many plans one makes, and how much one wants something, it’s a possibility that everything will go awry. This, too, is a fact of life and the lesson is to not be stopped by it. Even though all of one’s best laid plans crumble, one should find new ways to push the frontier. One should continue imperturbably and aim for happiness, despite this calling for drastic actions. In the end, one should put one’s happiness before others, in order to achieve the American Dream.
‘Of Mice And Men’ By John Steinbeck: Why Do Humans Sin?
Every major religion states in its teachings that committing any sin would turn humanity away from their deity and invite only misfortune and strife. It is generally accepted that the act of sin is wrong and human society is designed in a manner that alienates those who sin. Yet why do people still sin? Why do we still continue to commit acts of treason against our own kind and ourselves? What is there to gain in sin? The novel Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck characterizes its characters with the act of sin and uses it to great extent to establish what the motivations of the characters are in the story. Along with an interesting plot and setting, as well as themes that tackle still prevalent issues, the novel is worthy of the luster and recognition it has retained throughout the decades.
In the novel, we see a common trait in the characters: sin. We see the major characters commit acts that can be considered unacceptable to the prying eyes of society. We see Curley attack Lennie in a fit of rage, Curley’s wife seducing the ranch workers, Lennie’s murder of Curley’s wife, and George ending Lennie’s life with a bullet at the back of the head. With their sins in mind we may ask to ourselves: why did they commit such grievous crimes? Why did they sin? I do believe that it is conceited for me to answer this question in behalf of all humanity, but I will still answer this question. I do believe that humans sin to attain one thing: happiness. We all commit sins to please ourselves or others, to bring forth change in our situations, to avoid shame or embarrassment, to eliminate all that bother us, to minimize damage from our faults and mistakes, and to preserve what we love and avoid sacrifice. These reasons all have one thing in common: they stem from happiness. Though the fruits of sin usually lead to grief or torment, the reasoning behind them is pure and innocent. Curley attacks Lennie due to his insecurity. He is aware of his own weaknesses such as his small stature and immediately dislikes Lennie due to his fear of his wife being stolen from him by someone larger and sturdier. Curley’s wife flirts and seduces with the ranch workers due to her persisting loneliness which has developed from her husband’s lack of attention on her brought about by his own jealousy and due to her failure in attaining her dreams. We see in the novel of how she mistreats Crooks due to his race. During the time of the Great Depression, people with darker skin and of African descent were looked down upon and are considered ugly. Curley’s wife may despise Crooks due to her own insecurity, similar to her husband. Due to her failure in attaining her dream of becoming a movie star, she may be self-conscious about her appearance and uses Crooks as a medium to vent her frustration. Lennie murdered Curley’s wife but not intentionally. He was born mentally challenged, but it is compensated with his immense strength. Despite his immense strength, he adores soft objects and often pets and caresses them which results in the destruction of said object. As a man of limited mental capacity, his thinking is one based on sudden urges, not longtime plans. When he wants something, he will proceed to obtain it. He murdered Curley’s wife due to his desire for soft objects. When he caressed her hair, Curley’s wife did not expect the astounding strength he possessed and promptly panicked, which resulted in Lennie accidentally snapping her neck. George killed Lennie not because of hate or fear but out of love. He ended Lennie’s life to save him from the painful death that awaited him. These instances of human nature through sin is what makes this novel fascinating. The author has given the characters life not limited to dialogue only but also in actions. Observation of these characters reveal that they have their own desires and motivations, as well as flaws and blunders that make them human.
The author uses quite a bit of foreshadowing in his writing style and it is superbly written. In my first reading, I did not notice the signs and merely thought of it as world building. I failed to realize that world building is ineffective in a novel of measly length and that world building to this extent is unnecessary for novels with a historical setting. The author’s use of foreshadowing is disguised and subtle which makes it impossible for it to serve as a spoiler and instead further supplements the already brilliantly written characters. The author followed an important principle in writing known as Chekhov’s gun. Chekhov’s gun states that anything memorable or noteworthy event, character, or object must be relevant to the story. Some instances of foreshadowing include George telling Lennie where to go when he is in trouble and the tale of Candy’s dog, which was shot in the head by Carlson. The first instance foreshadows the location where George finds Lennie after Lennie accidentally kills Curley’s wife and the second instance foreshadows Lennie’s death at the hands of George. There are, however, several controversies regarding John Steinbeck’s usage of words and vocabulary in the novel. The novel has been criticized and repeatedly censored by various organizations due its use of language considered “offensive”. I personally did not find the author’s choice of words degrading and offensive. In fact, I appreciated it. The author’s choice of words accurately reflects the vernacular and consensus of the time (the novel was first published on 1937). This made the book feel more personal and intimate which made the book more effective in delivering its intended impact to the readers. Despite this, I understand the concerns of those who want the book censored. Yes, the novel uses racial slurs and words that may offend certain individuals. Yes, this novel may promote racism. However, it does not sugarcoat. It does not hide the reality of the time behind a veil of deceptions. The act of banning this book obscures from the general public the injustices that have occurred during days past. Humans possess the capability of learning from mistakes but what if they are not aware of their mistakes? What if their mistakes were hidden away, leaving no trace of its existence?
The plot is lackluster compared to the characters, but is interesting nonetheless. The plot also has a historical basis, which make it more believable which in turn makes the characters seem more human and makes the reader empathize more with them. The plot is based on a real occurrence known as the Great Depression, which crippled the world’s economies from 1929 until the genesis of World War II. This event devastated the livelihood of millions of citizens worldwide which led to starvation and desperation. What is interesting to note about stories with a historical setting is that they do not need to put much effort in world building as the world is already described in much detail in history books. Stories with settings unfamiliar to the readers must put quite a bit of effort and time to describe to the readers what the setting of the story looks like and how it impacts and affects the story. The setting of Of Mice and Men affects the story by being the main motivator of the character’s primary wants and desires. George and Lennie struggle to survive during times of economic turmoil and desire to own their own farm to profit more and to ensure their survival. The plot lacks plot twists of incredible magnitude and is rather predictable, but it is unnecessary. To summarize the plot, it is simply just a pair of friends attempting to attain their dreams and how their plans are foiled by the machinations of fate. If a plot twist of massive magnitude is inserted into the story (examples: George being Curley’s missing cousin, Lennie being The Boss’s illegitimate son, aliens appear to annihilate mankind, etc.), then the plot will deviate so much from the original theme that the impact and morality that made the story a classic would be lost. I do believe that the plot is not as interesting as the characters, but that is fine in its own right. It is the simplicity of the plot that gives the characters emphasis.
The story tackles a variety of different themes: friendship, euthanasia (mercy killing), neglect, discrimination, poverty, and fate. Friendship is seen on the relationship of George and Lennie. Despite of George’s constant caretaking and irritation at Lennie, he still continues to pamper and take care of him. He even decides to purchase a homestead not only for himself but also for Lenny. His murder of Lenny is not one based on malice or hatred; he murdered Lennie out of love. Euthanasia or mercy killing is seen on George’s murder of Lennie. This is a sensitive theme, however, and is still debated by numerous parties up to this day. One side would argue that murder is an affront to God and that humanity lacks the authority to take away His gift. One side would argue that if they truly cared for another person, then they would not tolerate seeing them suffer for any longer. One side would say that arguing is foolish and that the freedom to choose life or death lies on the afflicted person and their families, and that science and religion should not take part in their decision. With numerous other arguments presented, I do believe it is best to leave this topic alone to avoid unnecessary arguments and debates. Neglect is seen on the story most noticeably on Curley’s wife. With barely any interaction from her husband, she becomes depraved of love and consequentially sought attention through immoral or perverse means. George also neglects Lennie when he leaves to go out with his fellow workers, and without George watching him, Lennie commits a grave mistake through the murder of Curley’s wife. Discrimination can be seen on the interaction of Curley’s wife and Crooks. With intense racism rampant during the time, Crooks is forced to tolerate unjust name calling and hate speech on a daily basis. Lennie’s mental illness can also be a source of discrimination, though not obvious in the story. In the beginning of the story, it was mentioned that George and Lennie had to leave from their previous occupation due to Lennie’s desire for soft objects. Lennie had grabbed unto a woman’s clothes which was misunderstood as attempted rape. George and Lennie were chased out of town afterwards. In this scenario, one can infer that George must have attempted to appeal to the mob that chased them out of town about Lennie’s mental deficiencies and how Lennie meant no harm. Yet, they were still chased out of town. The mob must have ignored George’s appeal to their humanity and must have acted in hate, even with full knowledge of Lennie’s state of mind, though this is merely speculation and lacks conclusive evidence. Poverty is rampant throughout the entire novel. With a historic background of economic turmoil, the need for money and the urgency of survival serves as one of the main motivators of the characters. Fate is shown in the story as the inevitable turn of events. The theme of fate shows that even the most innocent and earnest people are still subject to it, and their plans are nothing more than pebbles in the bulldozer of fate. With various themes and interpretations in place, it is no surprise that Of Mice and Men is still a required read in many educational institutions worldwide. Though the book is many years old, the themes in it are still relevant to today’s society and reading the book may open the reader’s eyes to various topics and issues the world is currently facing.
With brilliant characters, an interesting plot, continued relevance, and a fascinating writing style, Of Mice and Men is truly deserving of the praise it has garnered. With the amount of literature being written every year that allows the reader to project themselves on it and dismiss their everyday life with unreal situations and idealistic, overpowered characters, Of Mice and Men serves as a grim reminder that we will forever be powerless against the machinations of fate and that we will always be slaves to our desires. May this remind us that with the continuous pursuit of desire comes the continuous prevalence of sin.
A Character Analysis Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck – Curley’s Wife
Of Mice and Men’s Curly’s Wife: An Analysis
In the 1930’s, rights for minorities were incredibly limited. White women were barely allowed to vote at this time, and the expectations set for women were oppressive and demanding. If a married man were on a ranch full of women, many may say he cannot help but look and flirt, for there is absolutely no one else to speak to if he is not to speak with the opposite sex. This is the situation Curly’s wife was landed in, labeling her “tart.” Curly’s wife’s taboo promiscuity was an act of rebellion from the expectations of her time. The 1930’s oft had high supply of the double standards you see in this novel. Women had to gain a full education for the same pay as a man with an elementary level education. While many women worked, they were still expected to attend to domestic chores such as cooking, cleaning, and nurturing the needs of offspring, while men were allowed to relax after a long day of work. Socially, workingwomen were frowned upon, seeing them as stealing money from men and abandoning their children. Curly’s wife lived in the midst of this era, a confusing one for women. Her sexual rebellion was her personal way of breaking from these shafts. Her promiscuity was a response to her own desires as well as a way to gain power.
The Analysis behind Curly’s Wife’s Promiscuity
Being a victim of high yet empty expectations of fame and fortune that was common in the rising age of modern media, Curly’s wife was encouraged to settle instead for marriage to a financially stable man, socially, a good lifestyle choice for the time. It is highly likely that due to the feelings of shame from her so called failure, she did not dare risk a similar situation of unsuccessful sorts, so she settled in with a cushy job and a thick skull named Curly. Her lack of commitment to Curly is due to the fact that she only married him because it was socially acceptable. Without any platonic relationship or spark, their marriage resulted in a sort of fatal un-attraction to Curly, and an attraction to the other men.
Curly’s wife, though, was not attracted to these raggedy ranchmen. A mental child, an old man missing appendages, a dark skinned stable prince were not likely to be the match for a bombshell such as the wife. As we saw, she really did not want to go any further than hair touching with Lennie, proving her thirsty title of “tart” wrong. What she really sought was the power that lust and attraction brings over men. In no other way was she able to have power as that over her male counterparts, so her promiscuity translated to power. Her involvement with Lennie is not to blame for Lennie’s death, or her death. Although she put herself in the compromising situation with Lennie, she did not expect or intend for any ending as such. Lennie isn’t to blame either, as he simply thought he was protecting her from punishment of being with him alone. The only one to blame for Lennie’s death would be the very angry and jealous Curly.
Curly’s wife only sought survival in her nuclear marriage on the ranch. Using her sexuality and body for power acted as a way for her to keep her head above water in the man’s world she lived in. By using the only thing she can barely claim as her own property, her body, she seeks a bit of freedom from her dull marriage and cocky spouse. She is not to blame for any deaths within this novel, nor was she entirely at fault for being the tart she was. Simply, she attempted to keep her head above water in her man-packed life, resulting in two awful tragedies.
Of Mice and Men, a Novel by John Steinbeck: Character Analysis of Crooks
For which character of Mice and Men do you have most sympathy? Show how John Steinbeck’s presentation of your chosen character creates sympathy for him or her.
In my opinion, Crooks is the character who possess and deserves the most sympathy. I say this as it is clear that Steinbeck encourages the reader to feel compassion towards Crooks in the novel through the way he depicts his character and develops his story. Crooks is the only black man in the novel and is fittingly named as Steinbeck’s chosen title illustrates his disability as he has a crooked back caused by a kick from a horse. Through the use of Crooks, Steinbeck shows us the position of coloured people in society during the 1930’s, which is very different to our modern day views as whites and blacks were segregated and coloured people were considered as 2nd class citizens. In the novel, Crooks is constantly referred to as ‘nigger’ by the other characters, showing that black men and women were often treated as barely human and degraded constantly by white people during this period of time.
However, the author also demonstrates the subservient position of disabled individuals by purposely creating Crooks to be a physically disabled character. Segregation and racism was the norm during the 1930’s due to the Jim Crow Laws, which were regulations in America enforced between 1876 and 1965 that provided a legal basis for segregating and discriminating against African-Americans. Therefore, not an ounce of sympathy would be felt from the readers towards a man purely because he was black as discrimination was common and culturally accepted by the white society of America. For this reason, Steinbeck burdens Crook’s with a physical impairment in order to evoke compassion from his audience.
Crooks is introduced half way through the book as the stable buck who owns “pain-tightened lips” and a “face lined with pain” however, his eyes are ‘patient’.’ In this first description, Steinbeck instantly gains our sympathy as we know Crooks is in pain. However, the pitiful character is noble about it as his eyes are patient. Additionally, Steinbeck’s introduction of Crooks portrays him to be obedient and dutiful towards ‘Mr Slim’, as he offers to do more than he has been asked by insisting to put warm tar on the Mules foot for him and he informs Slim that Lennie is playing with the puppies in a way ‘that won’t do them no good.’ Through showing Crook’s willingness, the author increases the reader’s feelings of empathy towards the touching character as the atrocious and constant abuse that he receives from his ranch works and other members of society hasn’t lead to a reduction in his kind and honest behaviour.
Our sympathy is further raised when we meet Crooks for the second time through the way that Steinbeck describes his living quarters. He is banned from the bunkhouse with the exception of Christmas day and doesn’t live with the other ranchers’ as he inhabits a stable alone. This is exemplified at the beginning of the novel when Candy states ‘they let the nigger come in’ which implies the occasion to be a special treat for Crooks. Steinbeck uses this quotation in order to underline the irony of the lack of Christian charity in the ranchers’ behaviour during the festive period. As a result of his isolation and lowly living arrangements, the reader develops the impression that Crooks is seen to be below the other men on the ranch. Sadly, the implication from the author is true as the 1930’s was a period of inflamed class conflict. The upper class consisted of mostly white Aristocratic families that dwelled in large and stately mansion. Whereas the lower class consisted of the labourers which included ranch workers, however, all African Americans were seen as lesser citizens and though to be at the bottom of America’s society. By virtue of the country’s class system, it would have been natural for the ranch workers to victimize Crooks as his place in society was lower than theirs, meaning that the white workers owned power over Crooks and the right to segregate him as a result of his disability and race. With regards to Crook’s living space, the author creates the image of an animal living in the stables whiles sleeping in a box by stating ‘Crooks had his bunk in the harness room’ and ‘his bunk was a long box filled with straw’. These quotations convey the daily abuse that Crooks receives and through using animal imagery to present Crook’s living conditions, Steinbeck successfully manages to expand the readers’ feelings of empathy towards the woeful character.
A key theme in the novel is loneliness and the suffering it can cause and the author highlights this theme through the uses of Crook’s character. When Lennie pays Crooks a visit in the stable room to see the puppies, Crooks initially attempts to be unwelcoming. ‘I don’t know what you’re doing in the barn anyway’ he complained, but he soon mellows to Lennie’s company as demonstrated when Steinbeck writes ‘Crooks scowled, but Lennie’s disarming smile defeated him.’ The reader is encouraged to see a warm, friendly side to Crooks, which exists despite the way he is excluded by the others. Steinbeck creates an affectionate picture of someone who again complains when Candy comes to join them, but is clearly actually pleased to finally have some company. This is shown in the following quotation: ‘Come on in. If ever’body’s comin’ in, you might just as well’. It was difficult for Crooks to conceal his pleasure with anger’. The reader warms to this excluded character as he clearly lives in physical and emotional pain, but can still show kindness to others despite the daily discrimination he receives.
The author develops the effect of loneliness further in the stable scene through this moving and heart-breaking description.”S’pose you didn’t have nobody. S’pose you couldn’t go into the bunk house and play rummy ’cause you were black… A guy needs somebody – to be near him… I tell ya a guy gets too lonely an’ he gets sick.” The reader pities Crooks and our compassion towards the character increases as he describes how he is discriminated against by the ranchers to the point where he feels unwell from the experience.
On the contrary, Steinbeck uses Crook’s character to show how a lifetime of prejudice and unfairness can affect people. The author does this through showing how Crooks can’t resist the temptation of manipulating Lennie as he realises that his status in society could be higher than his mentally disabled acquaintances. The weaker characters, who include Crooks, Lennie and Curley’s wife, have been left behind while the others go into town. Despite his intelligence, which Steinbeck informs the reader about at the beginning of the chapter through informing us that he owns ” a tattered dictionary and a mauled copy of the California civil code for 1905″. This evidences that he’s a knowledgeable man with little or no schooling but does what he can to better himself and that he also wants to be aware of the few rights he has as a black man. In defiance of his own experience of discrimination, Crooks can’t resist taking an opportunity to pick on Lennie in a cruel way by convincing Lennie to believe that George has abandoned him in order to acquire a better life. ‘S’pose George don’t come back no more. S’pose he took a powder and just ain’t coming back’. The motives of the weaker characters show the complexities of relationships when people are continually downtrodden themselves. The reader’s sympathy towards Crooks deteriorates in this scene as he is a wise individual who’s endured a life of pain; meaning that he should know better than to take advantage of Lennie on the basis of his mental health and is being hypocritical by doing so. Additionally, Crooks is frightened by the intensity of Lennie’s reaction, and is clearly physically intimidated by him, possibly giving an indication of things to come as Steinbeck portrays Crooks to be a bright and insightful man.
By contrast, Steinbeck develops the readers regard and empathy for Crooks by showing that he has endeavoured to rise above the discrimination and pain through the way other characters describe him. ‘Nice fella too. The boss gives him hell when he’s mad. But the stable buck don’t give a damn about that. He reads a lot, got books in his room’. The author clearly admires Crooks in the way that he presents him. He is investing a lesser character with independence, dignity and intelligence, which may have been surprising to a typical reader at the time, who might not expect such positive qualities from a black disabled man. Steinbeck is clearly challenging stereotypical views through the novel.
At the end of this passage, Steinbeck uses Curley’s wife to show just what a dangerous position black people held in society. As she arrives at the stable, Crooks tries to prevent her from entering by showing some pride and independence over his living space. “You got no rights comin’ in a coloured man’s room’. Her scornful response immediately demeans him, “you keep your place then, Nigger. I could get you strung up on a tree so easy it ain’t even funny.” She implies that she could frame Crooks and would be believed without question, even if the other people present supported Crook’s version of events as her position in society was higher that his, even as a woman. Steinbeck’s description of Crook’s reaction is a chilling example of how powerless black people were in society at this time. ‘Crooks had reduced himself to nothing. There was no personality, no ego –nothing to arouse either like or dislike.’ He is used to being in threatening situations and knows he must be meek and not at all assertive as he is potentially saving his life. The reader pities Crooks as all of his dignity and independence disappears quickly and he is obviously very used to being in this situation.
Evaluation of the Subject of Seclusion in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s, The Scarlet Letter and John Steinbeck’s, Of Mice and Men
The Grandeur of Isolation
Everyone has friends, some are closer than others. That is the difficulty in life; the human factor of closeness. Some would choose to live their entire lives in isolation rather than become close to others. Why would one partake in this solemnity by choice? For what reason would an individual give up their God-given right of companionship and choose to live their life as a forlorn solitary? The answer is simple; to ensure the quality of life deserving of one they love. Despite their isolation, multiple characters in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter and John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men rise above their circumstance to achieve personal victory.
Without doubt Hester Prynne lived most, if not all, of her life in isolation; despite her isolation, Hester attempts to give Pearl a better life by rising above her circumstances. First, Hester’s time spent in prison was a unique punishment which had never been borne by another soul. The shadow of a grotesque and ghastly man hurls open the cell door of Hester Prynne. This silhouette of a man seems to represent the Puritanical society of the period as a whole. The face of a stranger no longer matters to Hester Prynne; she would be analyzed the same, regardless by whom, as the sinner she identified being. Hester’s “existence, heretofore, had…acquaintance only with the grey twilight of the dungeon, or other darksome apartment of the prison” (Hawthorne 39). This quote demonstrates that Hester began her life-long term of isolation in prison. Hester is strong-minded and pushes her silhouette of a guard away to walk freely; she understands the burden now on her existence. Pearl, the constant reminder of her sin, has known only darkness until this point. Hester will endure the burden of isolation and condemnation to raise Pearl in the most normalcy possible.
In addition to isolation, Hester feels remorse for her actions; she reminisces over the life that could have been. Furthermore, Hester subliminally realizes the land of opportunity that is Boston; she knows the opportunity and possibility she has thrown away. Boton’s puritanical society was enamored with the use of public-shaming and the like. Regardless, Hester willingly stays in Boston and chooses to brandish the scarlet “A” and endure the hardships which are sure to envelop her life as an adulteress. Hester is brought to the scaffolds to display her “A” to all; she looks around and sees the faces of the people she once knew and the buildings she once populated. In this moment Hester realizes what she truly has in life: Pearl. Hester “clutched the child so fiercely to her breast that is sent forth a cry; she turned her eyes downward at the scarlet letter, and even touched it with her finger…..they were her realities; all else had vanished” (Hawthorne 45). This quote demonstrates to the reader that Hester now knows she must take initiative and provide for Pearl the life she failed to attain. In that moment Hester clutches her child and feels for her scarlet “A” as all former aspirations disappear. These two symbols are physical reminders of her shame; never letting her forget the sin of her past, but giving her the needed tunnel-vision to see important undertaking of her existence: providing the quality of life for Pearl that she never had.
Furthermore Hester has quite literally traded her quality of life for Pearl’s. Her child is her only tangible reason to continue living; for what other reason would Hester not up and die? Hester lives in a continual sadness embodied by the scarlet “A” embroidered on her breast. The only release is her only happiness; her daughter. Pearl has grown up alongside her mother. As Pearl states in the reading, she knows no “Heavenly Father”. The only parental figure in Pearl’s life is Hester, who is also her closest friend. Pearl has seen the cruelty of the world. Her eyes have gazed upon the the land and her soul reflects what she has seen. Almost taken from her mother, harassed by peers, knowing no father, having no companions-Pearl’s life was quite literally a living hell. With this in mind one might think Hester failed her life’s one true task, but this is not the case. Hester has Sacrificed much for Pearl, and has made given her the quality of life she deserves, but not immediately. Hester wonders to what extent her child’s knowledge reaches. She inquires “‘Dost thou know child, wherefore thy mother wears this letter?’” (Hawthorne 142)
This demonstrates the interest of Hester in her younger daughter Pearl. She has not given Pearl the material quality of life, but the intellectual quality. Does her child understand this sacrifice? Against all odds, Hester has raised her daughter, a symbol of her sin, and given her the tools to build a successful life. The compassion seen in Pearl’s care for her mother as she is harassed by children, consistent mother-daughter closeness, alike personalities-these things and more have all been give to Pearl by her mother. Hester has raised a daughter, and taught her, that even through adversity you must remain adamant about who you love and care about. She has been taught to never quit attempting success even if the odds are stacked against you and to stand up for what she believes in. The scarlet “A” was transformed from a symbol of isolation and strife into “able”. Pearl was transformed from a mere symbol of sin into compassionate young woman. Hester Prynne succeeded in her life’s one and only true goal.
In a similar fashion, in John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, George lives a life of isolation so Lennie is never required to. George Milton has spent most of his existence as the caretaker of Lennie Smalls as per the request of Lennie’s late aunt. The duo are polar opposites; George is “small and quick, dark of face, with restless eyes and sharp, strong features…..every part of him was defined”. (Steinbeck 2). Lennie is “a huge man, shapeless of face, with large, pale eyes, with wide, sloping shoulders”. (Steinbeck 2). The diagnosis of Lennie Smalls is never shared in Of Mice and Men, but it can be observed through thought processes, activities, and lack of social skills that Lennie is somehow mentally challenged. George has ensured the safe keeping of Lennie, but part of him wants to be a free soul; he is conflicted. As anger gets the best of him George twists his true feelings to hurt Lennie “‘God a’mighty, if I was alone I could live so easy. I could go get a job an’ work, an’ no trouble. No mess at all’” (Steinbeck 11). This quote demonstrates the intricacy of the situation at hand. George wants to live, but he cannot leave Lennie to be alone. George realizes the stress he continually puts on his shoulders as he routinely cares for Lennie. George lives in this isolation, moving place to place, to give Lennie a life he could not obtain on his own.
Equally important is that George wants exactly what Lennie does; to settle down and live life in the slow lane. To accomplish this task for Lennie is to accomplish it for himself also. George has found the pair work and is attempting to save up for their farm. Lennie, anxious as always, ends up revealing the duo’s plan to Candy. Lennie asked “‘George how long’s it gonna be till we get that little place an’ live on the fatta the lan’ an’ rabbits?’” (Steinbeck 56). This quote shows the disconnect between the two. George shroud their plan in secrecy whilst Lennie has no filter. The two are opposites, but yet are even more alike than they could possibly know.
Additionally George and Lennie have no one else; only each other. George, at times, may become frustrated with his situation, caring for Lennie, but he needs Lennie just as much as Lennie needs him. George routinely says hurtful things to Lennie, but he always stays. He cares about Lennie too much, being around him is George’s norm. George has lived in isolation in an attempt to provide a life of normalcy for Lennie for Lennie’s late aunt, but also for himself. Lennie is the brother he never had. Without each other they would both live a life of great destitute. Lennie’s favorite story “‘Guys like us that work on ranches are the loneliest guys in the world. They got no family. They don’t belong no place……’” (Steinbeck 13). This is the quote that solidifies the relationship between George Milton and Lennie Smalls. Who do they have without each other? Their bond goes far beyond a caretaker and an impaired man. This is brotherhood.
The bond between the two helps to explain George’s actions at the end of the novel. The entire event was foreshadowed earlier as Carlson shoots Candy’s old dog; leaving Candy to wish he had done it himself. Many would believe that George’s actions were not out of compassion, but there is evidence to prove it is. When Curley’s wife is killed and a pigeon flies overhead two things come to mind. The soul of an unhappy woman being released from her prison, and the symbol of Lennie running away as he would soon have to. George recites to Lennie his favorite story before pulling the trigger; he wanted Lennie to die happy. George did his best to provide a life of normalcy and happiness for Lennie; he was successful even if things ended poorly. There was truly no other alternative. With nowhere to run Lennie would either have been shot by Curley, imprisoned, or worse. Lennie Smalls died a happy man; which was George’s objective.
Nonetheless, even with isolation consistently seen as a key theme in The Scarlet Letter and Of Mice and Men, both books share similarities and dissimilarities. The key similarity in both novels is the self-sacrifice by one character for the benefit of another character. This is demonstrated in The Scarlet Letter with Hester and Pearl, and in Of Mice and Men with George and Lennie. Main characters overcome adversity to help give those they love a chance at life. The duos in both novels succeeded, but the circumstances are somewhat different. The key dissimilarity is that Hester provides Pearl with the skills to lead the life of normalcy and happiness that she was unable to, while George provides Lennie with a normal life, and a reason to continue trying; a cause. Long story short; at the end of stories Pearl is alive and Lennie isn’t. That does not, however, negate any of George’s actions; simply that Lennie’s period of happiness was provided in the here and now while Pearl’s was ensured for the future.
Despite their isolation, multiple characters in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter and John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men rise above their circumstance to achieve personal victory. The characters in both novels live in some form of isolation to ensure a better life for a loved one. Do they succeed in their task? Yes, but should they have ensured a better life for themselves as well and found happiness? Who’s to say, but that’s the difficulty in life; the human factor of closeness.
The Significance of the Subject of Loss as Depicted in John Steinbeck’s Book, Of Mice and Men
How Important Is the Theme of Death in the Novel?
Steinbeck explores many different themes in his book but arguably one of the most prominent themes is death. Death is the reason for the numerous tragedies throughout the novel that eventually lead to the death of Lennie. He illustrates this concept through the use of symbolism and description infused within a semantic field of death, especially apparent in chapter six. Not only does the idea of death allow Steinbeck to engage the reader but it also allows him to explore the idea of suffering of characters due to their description before and after their death. Furthermore, it ultimately allows him to explore sub themes such as dreams due to the death of the American dream and also the role of women on the ranch and the impact it has.
Symbolism is one of the key linguistic techniques Steinbeck uses and in particular he uses animals to foreshadow and represent the death or deterioration of characters in the book. This idea is greatly explored through the death of Candy’s dog who as we can tell through the description is used to represent Candy. Candy is described as having a “stick-like wrist” and the noun “stick” has connotations of being fragile and therefore implies that he is physically weak but could also mean he is emotionally delicate. Furthermore, this idea of Candy slowly deteriorating fits in with his dog being described as “struggled lamely … grunting to himself” but Candy explaining that he was “a good sheep dog when he was younger”. This similar comparison between the two is clearly used to infer that Candy’s dog symbolises Candy and his future. As the book matures, Slim states “I wisht somebody’d shoot me shoot me if I got old an’ a cripple”, in order to convince Candy to let his dog be killed. However, the death of his dog and the quote by Slim shows that Candy will soon face a similar fate after being deemed useless and also introduces the idea of Darwinism and survival od the fittest into the book. Additionally, as the book develops, the animals Lennie kills progressively get larger in size starting with a mouse and growing to a puppy. This use of animals getting larger not only shows Lennie’s animalistic instincts but also foreshadows the inevitable death of Curley’s wife. Furthermore, when Steinbeck is describing her passing he uses animals further to symbolise death. He writes “A pigeon flew in through the open hay door and circles and flew out again”. One interpretation is that it represents her short time on the ranch and the use of the noun “circle” also references the overall cyclical structure of the book and the concept that nothing ever changes on the ranch. However, an alternative interpretation is that the “pigeon” is the ranch equivalent of a dove which not only represents her death but may infer that Curley’s wife is finally at peace. Therefore, symbolism is one of the novel’s key features and the symbolism of animals is one way in which Steinbeck represents the theme of death, whether it is through animals symbolising characters and ultimately their fate or the use of animals to foreshadow death in the novel.
Death is also an important way in which Steinbeck explores individual characters and the impact of the ranch on them, this concept is especially significant in regards to Curley’s wife. She is first presented to us as being “jailbait” or a “tart” and this is heavily assisted by the use of the colour red to portray her. When describing her the author says she wore “red mules, on the insteps of which were little bouquets of red ostrich feathers”. The repetition of the word red is significant as it may symbolise passion and sexuality or danger, portraying her as a threat to the American dream. Furthermore, she is described as “brittle” and “heavily made up” which may show that she is in fact vulnerable and wears a mask of makeup in order to seem more grown up then she is or it may serve as an alter ego. Furthermore, it may indicate that she is alike a doll and is not only fragile but beneath the flirtatious layers is actually a “girl”. This first impressions the reader creates significantly contrasts with the image of her after her death. Once Lennie has killed her, Steinbeck writes “the meanness and the planning and the discontent and the ache for attention were all gone from her face”. This may show that after her death, her real personality was exposed and she is now portrayed as innocent and “simple”. Therefore, through her death Steinbeck could be attempting to show how the ranch impacts people and changes them. In particular Curley’s wife helps to represent the stereotypical characterisation of women on the ranch which is also explored through a female dog’s “heavy and hanging duds”, showing she is just used with no empathy towards her. As a result, death plays an important role in the novel in exposing characters for who they truly are showing how the ranch impacts them but also shows how women and objective and characterized which the reader also experiences due to the contrast between Curley’s wife’s first and last impression.
Chapter six marks the end of the novel and is the most tragic part of the book for the readers exploring many different themes. Chapter six begins in the same place as chapter one does but also in the same way in regards to it opening with a description of the setting referencing the overall cyclical structure of the book. During the opening narrative, it clearly has a semantic field of death with the theme infused within the description. The sun is described has having “left the valley”, which foreshadows death of either Lennie or the American dream seen as the word “sun” is commonly associated with the idea of hope. Contrastingly, when Lennie appears at the scene and disturbs the natural environment the sun is said that as it climbed the “mountains [it] seemed to blaze with increasing brightness”, which may reference that hope is returning for George when Lennie dies or that the depression for him is over. However, an alternative interpretation is that it represents the gates to heaven where Lennie will eventually go. Steinbeck deliberately uses edenic language to reference the idea of temptation, with Curley’s wife symbolizing the forbidden fruit such as “snake”. Nevertheless, the most obvious event that occurs in chapter six is the shooting of Lennie which as a result causes the death of the dream. However, the idea that their personal heaven is destroyed by his death is foreshadows from the beginning of chapter one. Steinbeck opens, similarly to the opening of chapter six, with a deep detailed description of the nature. He deliberately uses adjectives that allude to a fairytale which is, in reality, unattainable and furthermore, he uses long sentences that are detailed, the parallel of Lennie and George’s dream. Additionally, not only is this idea of beauty unattainable but it is disturbed by the “two men emerging”, referencing the nature being destroyed by the impending darkness of humanity. Furthermore, the edenic scene is further ruined by Lennie killing the mouse. His likeness for soft things which ultimately lead to death is first introduced to the reader in chapter one and hence foreshadows the death of Curley’s wife due to her soft hair. Therefore, the cyclical structure of the book means that chapter one as well as six explore how the use of the environment and the opening description of the chapters foreshadows the end of the book. It also carries the theme of death within the description as well as the idea of the American dream being unattainable from the beginning.
Therefore, overall the theme of death is infused within every aspect of the book and it intertwined with every event. Steinbeck uses mainly literary devices to convey the idea of death but he puts emphasis on foreshadowing and symbolism by representing the end of the book through the animals Lennie kills. He further uses symbolism through the description of the chapters to either represent the paradise of nature and garden of Eden or create a semantic field of death. Additionally, he uses death to present to the reader the way disabled people and women were treated on the ranch and the lack of authority they had on the ranch as well as the impact it has on them in regards to it changing their personalities. In this way Steinbeck effectively carries the concept of death to deliver powerful messages to the reader that evoke empathy.
Dreams and Their Inevitability in Of Mice and Men, America and I, The Great Nation of Futurity
John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men approaches the concept of dreams and how it is virtually impossible to achieve. The novel follows the journey of two men, George and Lennie, and their attempt to live the American Dream. Just when they are about to accomplish their goal, Lennie does something catastrophically wrong, and the men are forced to abandon everything they had hoped for. Chasing after dreams that are practically unattainable is the nature of humankind, as it not only brings meaning to their lives but also allows them to find refuge in their hardships.
Of Mice and Men takes place during the Great Depression, a time where loneliness and adversities were ubiquitous in the lives of men. After escaping from Weed, Lennie pleads George to tell him about the dream that they share by asking “Come on, George. Tell me. Please George. Like you done before” (Steinbeck 13). Hungry and tired, George tells him the familiar story once again. Both men know that they will never get tired of it. The warmth and happiness of something as simple as a dream diverts their attention from their daily struggles, and prevents them from succumbing to the hard reality of their situation. At heart, George knows that the hope they have will never amount to anything, yet it is enough to bring meaning into their lives.
Dreams are what makes living life worthwhile. They give people the motivation to wake up every day and work towards a goal. In America and I, Anzia Yezierska expresses her hope in America by writing “There was such a freshness in my brains and such a willingness in my heart I could go on and on — not only with the work of the house, but work with my head” (Yezierska 68). When she had first arrived in America, Yezierska did not know any English, and struggled from cultural differences. However, what made her push forward was the American Dream. The fact that she was living her life in America, earning money and getting the chance to do what she wanted to do, gave her motivation to go on with her life, regardless of the fact that she was struggling to pay for basic needs. Without dreams, everyday life would be a monotone sequence of days, repeating without any real significance to it — no different from the code embedded into a machine signaling it what to do.
To conjure up a more ideal situation in hopes of it becoming a reality is an inevitable habit among mankind. John L. O’Sullivan’s The Great Nation of Futurity deals with the history of the United States and how it is a country destined to be the nation of the future. O’Sullivan refers to how “our national birth was the beginning of a new history, the formation and progress of an untried political system, which separates us from the past and connects us with the future only” (O’Sullivan 65). The beginning of the American nation began from a dream for a better situation. Innovation that benefits society first requires for people to dream. Dreams are what stimulates the imagination and allow for humankind to progress as a society, hence the tendency for people to have aspirations despite the fact that everything in reality is against them.
Dreams are the imagination of mankind. Instead of giving up and living the rest of their life meaningless, people live out each day having the motivation to work, regardless of whether the dream can even be achieved or not. Such impossibilities like these bring comfort into the lives of men, which is why they do not try, or ever have tried to prevent dreaming. It puts men at ease from their unwanted way of life by allowing for the freedom of direction of what they truly want in their lives. Dreams essentially allow for everlasting happiness and peace, yet it contradicts the idea of life, which is based upon growth from pain and hardships. Dreams are not so much something as what men can achieve, but rather it represents the perception of human happiness.