Crooks are a character used by Steinbeck to demonstrate racial segregation and loneliness. He is only black man in the ranch and is disabled.
1) Crooks has a low status and is racially segregated
Steinbeck presents Crooks to have the lowest status and authority on the ranch. This is shown when Curley’s wife, who also has a very low status threatens Crooks in section 4.
“Nigger, I could get you strung up on a tree so easy it aint even funny”, ‘Crooks had reduced himself to nothing. There was no personality, no ego”
Curley’s wife threatens Crooks because she sees that he is in a weaker position than she is. In 1930’s USA, blacks were said to be the inferior race also Crooks himself had a disability as he had a crooked back, these two characteristics were very important when Curley's wife decided to threaten Crooks as these were two of the worst things you could be at this time. His low status is further emphasised by the fact that ranch men address him by, either ‘nigger’ or ‘Crooks’ which is a particularly cruel name to give him considering the pain his crooked spine gives him.
2) Crook is presented as lonely
Steinbeck presents Crooks as a lonely and isolated character by separating him as an outsider and giving him his own room. Steinbeck highlights,
“Crooks had his bunk in the harness room”.
By isolating Crooks from the rest of the ranch workers, Steinbeck makes it apparent that Crooks is an outsider and kept isolated in his own room. To further emphasise his loneliness, it is shown that Crooks is an avid reader, he possessed,
“a tattered dictionary, a mauled copy of the California civil code, a few dirty books”
Steinbeck uses the adjectives ‘tattered, mauled and dirty’ to imply that Crooks has the read the books numerous times. As Crooks is very lonely, the books to him are a form of escapism from the isolation and hostility he receives. The fact that he reads book marks him out as an intelligent man who has...