The Realism of American Society in Of Mice and Men
It is a modernist novella and It takes place in Salinas, California during the great depression in the early 1930s. Steinbeck published many more novels in his life, he wrote 31 books and his most well-known books are Of Mice and Men, Grapes of Wrath (1939) and East of Eden (1952). He wrote this story based on his own experiences with the work besides farm workers when he was young in the 1910s. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962. Of Mice and Men is an important book to demostrates the hard situation for farmers and farm workers and their struggles to find a job after the World War 1 in 1930s and as a result, many farmers and farm workers migrated to California in hopes of finding enough work to live. Steinbeck demonstrates this in his novel by creating the characters of George and Lennie. Also, the 1930s were difficult times for many Americans, black people and women suffered even more than the rest because of the racism and sexism against them. Steinbeck demonstrates this in his novel by creating the characters of Crooks and Curley’s wife. However, This paper will illustrate three main ideas, first idea is the representation of migrants in American society, how the characters embrace the American dream and what is their reaction of the failure of the dream. Second idea is the representation of violence, how men endure violence and its effects on them. Third idea is the representation of women, emphasize violence and sexism towards women and their effects on them.
The first idea that John Steinbeck presents in the first part of this research is the representation of migrants in American society. The migration process is generally a group of people wants to live in another country in order to the need of work and make a living. Thus this process happens to the protagonists, Goerge and Lennie in the book, they move to a ranch in California with the hope that they will be able to collect money and buy their own land. However, I believe it was a challenging migration proccess to find work since it was during The Great Depression period (1930) in America. According to America’s Great Migrations and the Making of an Interracial Left article, the author Erin Royston Battat shed light on the harrowing realities of migrant workers in the book Ain’t Got No Home. It relates to Of Mice and Men’s book as exemplary work that migrant workers was struggling in America during that time since it was after the World War I, many people migrated to America but the war offered no opportunities for these people to work.
The second idea that Steinbeck demonstrates is the representation of The American dream and how the migrants’ characters embrace it. The American dream is a powerful concept and it allows American society to achieve their dreams, as long as they work hard, they will success easily. However, in Of Mice and Men, it was not that easy to success in American soceity at that period. The protagonists start their journey to a ranch in California to find work and make their dream come true as when George says to Lennie:’We gotta get a big stake together'(Steinbeck 56). They are symbols of strong insistence characters to have their own land. I beileve they are strong since in the most difficult moment when they begin to work, they strat to hear unpleasant things. Such as when the boss says:’I seen hunderds of men come by on the road an’ on the ranches, They come an’ they quit an’ go on; an’ 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'(Steinbeck 64). Even when the boss tries to frustrates the characters, they still manage to continue working and avoid him. I think this is a huge motive for me to not to be affected by negative people.
The Third idea that Steinbeck explores is the effects of the dream failure on the characters. The failure of the dream makes the plot twist of the story in Of Mice and Men. The main reason for their failure is because of the protagonist Lennie, he loves to pet soft things, these things are mouses, rabbits and pets. He kills them after he pets them. These are foreshadowings that Steinbeck gives the readers to expect bad things will happen in the story later. According to Lennie’s strange behavior, there is a farm worker says:’I never seen such a worker. He damn near killed his partner Buckin’ Barley.'(Steinbeck 44). This proves that Lennie is not a normal person and he is near to kill anything besides him even if it is a human being. Thus readers will expect bad thing will happen, As a result, this thing is Lennie touches women’s soft hair and kills her accidentally. Finally, According to this case, the American dream that protagonists always talk about, will not happen and everyone in the ranch wants Lennie to die, and George (his closest friend) decides to kill him as the right decision to not cause troubles anymore and make The American dream by his own. I think this is the saddest and strangest plot twist of the story.
The first idea that John Steinbeck presents in the first part of this research is the presentation of violence in Of Mice and Men. Violence is generally the use of the body force to hurt and cause psychological harm in one’s life. In Of Mice and Men, Steinbeck presents violence as the use of men’s strength to break and seperate animals’ neck out of their bodies without a real reason for that awful behavior. As when Lennie says:’I’d pet ‘em, and pretty soon they bit my fingers and I pinched their heads a little and then they was dead—because they was so little. I wish’t we’d get the rabbits pretty soon’ (Steibeck 79). Moreover, according to Of Mice and Men Analysis article by James D. Hart, he states that Steinbeck also uses violence by the character Lennie against an important role of women in the story and treats her the same as the way he kills animals in the book. These kind of situations demonstrates how violence in the ninties of America is being mercilessly and tough and I believe that the character Lennie is approximately a psycho, mentally disabled and he never knows how to use his strengh.
The second idea that Steinbeck studies is the reaction of men towards violence. For every action there is a reaction, and I beileve men reaction to violence will always be the self-defense. However, in Of Mice and Men, the character George defends his friend and himself at the same time. It is when Lennie kills Curly’s wife accidentally, (Curly is the boss’s son). According to Artscolumbia’s article by University of Arkansas System, it studies Of Mice and Men story, It says that Curly wants to kill Lennie and George reacted to this situation in a rush and kills Lennie by himself as the right decision to save him from a more painful death by Curly’s hands. I beileve that this case explores the strength of the capitalism to the point that one kills a closest friend in order to follow authority and not losing job. I think this is the most miserable plot twist that happens in the story yet I also consider it as the right decision to move away harmful people even if they do something bad and harmful accidentally or are not in their mental conscious, it is still an important requirement to lock them up.
The third idea that Steinbeck presents is the effects of violence on men. Of Mice and Men has many situations that are kind of needless violence. For instance, the boss allows the farm workers to fight between each other in order to give them whisky. Thus because of this kind of cases, there is one of the most affected character by them, it is Carlson character. Carlson is affected by violence to the point that he starts to be unconcerned and careless whenever he shoots dogs. Moreover, he is affected by violence to the point that he lacks of morality and starts to talk without ethics in his use of words, such as when he tells a farm worker:’I’ll kick your God damn head off.'(Steinbeck 241-242). In order to his carelessness about violence and death, Steinbeck demonstrates the inability of Carlson character to understand George’s feelings about the death of Lennie. I beileve Carlson character fails to see how violence is huge risky thing and it needs to make him feel guilty. However, he do not feel it. I think that it is an axiomatically that a person becomes immorality when lives in such a violent community.
The first idea that John Steinbeck presents in the third part of this research is the representation of women. In Of Mice and Men, there is only one women in the story. She is Curly’s wife and she is the only unamed character. This foreshadows that she is an isolated women, a hidden character from the world and no one knows her except her husband, Curly. ‘Ain’t I got a right to talk to nobody? Whatta they think I am, anyways?’ Says Curly’s wife (Steinbeck 99). This women dreams of being accepted and always have faith in the say: ‘hard work can lead to a better life’. However, she loses this kind of American dream. She is always referred as Curly’s wife and because she is unaccepted women, every men try to avoid her and no one talk to her. I think she is a victim of her empty and meaningless life. Moreover, her words about herself shows the lonliness, the understatement of herself and the lack of self-esteem. I beileve that Steinbeck tries to illustrate the way women live in American soceity back in the 1930s during The Great Gepression period.
The second idea that Steinbeck asserts is the representation of sexism and violence against women. Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines Sexism as discrimination based on sex especially the discrimination against women. In Of Mice and Men, sexism is obvious due to the appearance of other unimportant men characters that have their own names even thought they are in lower states than Curley’s wife character, but she is still unamed character. While violence against women in the book is presented as an incident occurs because of women’s seduction to men. It is when Curly’s wife tries to talk to Lennie and share him how she feels about not being able to talk to anyone, thus Lennie asks her whether he can touch her hair and at that moment, she is not able to escape from his strange behavior, he ends her life and break her neck accidentally. I think these situations proves that some men always want to control women as they want without being reasoned for their demandings and actions. Moreover, I think it is not all about women being victims, they could be guilty too.
The third idea that Steinbeck presents is the effects of sexism and violence on women. Women are originally stronger than men based on the amount of things that they can endure with patience, such as giving birth. However, they can neither endure physical harm by men against them nor sexism treatment by almost everyone. In Of Mice and Men, sexism is presented as unamed women that is being ignored by everyone, Curly’s wife, she is affected by sexism against her. As a result, she strats to feel offended that no one cares about her existence as she says:’I get lonely,’ (Steinbeck 98)’ and explains to Lennie:’You can talk to people, but I can’t talk to nobody but Curley…’. This demonstrates the lonliness of her chatacter and that she wants to communicate with anyone. However, I beileve this women is not only victim, but also guilty. In order to her isolation of the world, she tries to seduce Lennie, which is the most dangerous step she decides to do since it causes her death by his violent behavior against her. I assume that she is the reason that she is affected by violence because of her own bahvior to a men character, Lennie, which is seduction. I think sexism is men’s issue since they always think that a woman is just a weak person that cannot do something right and do not have knowledge as they have. However, I think that violence is a gender issue, it depends on one’s attitude towards another.
To conclude, the consequences at the end of Of Mice and Men story demonstrates the realism of American soceity and it relates to Steinbeck’s themes, which are the broken dreams, the immorality, violence and sexism. Thus this paper explored main issues happened in American society back in 1930s. Including the migrants’ American dream failure and how it affects on them, the violence to men and how it affects on them, sexism against women and its effect on them. I think that philosophers will love it since it studies the history of America. For me, it is a new genre and a challenge book I ever read. I face many difficulites while making this research, including not finding the articles that suits my demandings and struggles to understand some of the articles that were published by University Press. Of Mice and Men is considered one of the most challenging books to read in order to the depth of the subjects in the book. I beileve it is a motivaional book because it demonstrates the hard life of farm workers like Lennie and George, that they cannot handle any authority, have no family, no home, and have very little control over their lives. However, they still manage to live in tough American community.
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