Bullying and Meanness as a Theme in
Of Mice and Men
In his short book or novella Of Mice and Men, author John Steinbeck draws attention to migrant farm workers in the Depression era of the 1930s. Through his story he looks at human nature in the areas of men’s friendship, loneliness, and meanness or bullying. This essay looks at Steinbeck’s depiction of the tendency to bully others and that the tendency seems to come from their own weakness. This meanness is shown in the relationships of the characters. The bullying is physical, psychological, and emotional and nearly all of the characters demonstrate it, including George, Candy, Crooks, and Curley’s wife and it is contrasted to the unintentional violence of Lennie. The first example of bullying is sardonic comments from George to his friend Lennie. George is intelligent and a leader; Lennie is neither. George likes to make fun of Lennie and point out his mental weakness. “Lennie looked timidly over to him… ‘Where we goin’ , George?’ The little man jerked down the brim of his hat and scowled over at Lennie. ‘So you forgot that awready, did you? I gotta tell you again, do I? Jesus Christ, you’re a crazy bastard!” (pg 4) This type of denigrating conversation happens over and over throughout the novel. George is a good friend but also a bully. Lennie looks up to George as a friend and a leader, and tries to impress him. Another example of bullying is when boss gets mad and takes it out on Crook. “…The boss gives him hell when he’s mad.” (pg 19-20). One of his meanest incidents of bullying is focused toward a dog and his owner, Candy. Carlson dose not like Candy’s old mutt dog and tells Candy, “Get him outa here, Candy. You got to get him outa here." Carlson ends up killing the dog and Candy lets him because of the pressure he puts on him. No one steps up to defend the dog or Candy and to tell Carlson to not kill him. (pg 48) The bullying is not just from the strongest or the meanest....
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