Explore the Ways Crooks Is Presented and Developed in "Of Mice and Men"

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Explore the ways Crooks is presented and developed in “Of Mice And Men” The novel “Of Mice And Men” by John Steinbeck written in 1937, is set in the Salinas Valley of California during the Great Depression. Crooks was one of the main characters who is mainly presented as an outcast within the ranch. The way Crooks is presented, illustrates all the idea of discrimination and racism during the 1930’s. In this period many struggled to survive and it was hard to earn a living and In the case of Crooks, Steinbeck uses him as a voice to portray the black community, so they can learn and understand the different ways of how black men lived and struggled, to survive but also how they were mentally and physically abused. Firstly, Crooks is the only black man on the ranch illustrating that he is an outcast. Due to his skin colour, he was mostly known as a “nigger” and in some cases as “Stable buck or Crooks”. Through the names he’s given, it indicates how as a human being he’s not even given or called by his real name. The term “Nigger” was often used slightingly, by the mid-20th century, particularly in the United States, its usage had become unambiguously pejorative, a common ethnic slur usually directed at people of Sub-Saharan African descent. However, in the modern world, it is highly offensive to use such a word at someone but during the racial period of the Great Depression it was used quite freely. On the other hand, because of prejudice that’s aimed at him we can assume why he was forced to live by himself in “a little shed that leaned off the wall of the barn”. This shows how he doesn’t live with the rest of the workers in the ranch as they don’t even want to breathe the same air as Crooks. He’s been physically and mentally separated from the other “white” workers, it shows a divided community but on racism. As an audience or reader we can understand the difficulties many Black ethnics have gone through. An example would be the slavery triangle. Even though he wasn’t physically hurt like other Black Slaves, he was tortured mentally through exclusion. Secondly, Steinbeck also creates a very specific image of Crooks from the moment we are introduced to him as a broken man who optimizes himself with pain and grief. He first appears in chapter 3 as he puts his head through the door and is described as having ‘a lean negro head, lined with pain’. Immediately, ‘lined with pain’ implies that Crooks has had anything but an easy life. Furthermore, as well as being alienated for being black, he is also marginalised for being crippled. There are many references throughout the book to Crooks continually rubbing liniment into his crippled back. This suggests that Crooks must struggle to work through his pain, yet does not complain as realistically he has no choice. By creating a crippled character, Steinbeck ensures that almost immediately we sympathise with the character of Crooks which is necessary in order for us to understand him. This part of the story is where the readers realise the reality of Crooks as well as the minority of black people’s pain, because Crooks is treated as a tortured soul. Also, the pain and torture is not only with him, physically and mentally it surrounds him. This is highlighted through what he has around him in his room ’curved knives... Needles…Chains’. He is surrounded by his work tools which hint an idea upon the reader of his work and home life which is merged into one and also may reveal to the readers how it supports the idea of painful existence around him. Additionally, Crooks’s character is developed and reduced from being a human as more animal imagery is connected towards him; this reason comes from where he lives to how he is treated. “Crooks' bunk was a long box filled with straw, on which his blankets were flung” immediately the verb “flung” suggests that Crooks does not take care of his living conditions. The readers notice the conditions Crooks lives under, a situation similar to animals...
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