Explore the ways Steinbeck presents and develops relationships between Crooks and the other characters in the novel ‘Of Mice and Men’ •
How Steinbeck uses language and structure to reveal these relationships to the reader •
The significance of these relationships
Crooks is a pivotal character in the novel ‘Of Mice and Men’ by John Steinbeck, as Steinbeck uses Crooks to represent the prejudice and racism that black Americans suffering during 1930s’ society. Therefore the reader is able to empathise with Crooks because Steinbeck reveals to the reader what society was like during the Great Depression. Throughout the novel we are able to recognise Crooks’ situation and we witness how Crooks’ dream of a better life has never come about, and as he is disabled he is a permanent ranch worker so unlike the other characters he is unable to leave the ranch for anything better. Thus his dreams are limited and will never happen; because of this Crooks has become cynical and bitter because of his treatment and suffering. Crooks is an isolated character on the ranch, however throughout the novel we do see some little relationships happen with some of the characters and we see how Crooks is able to open up to Lennie and he confesses all of his feelings and thoughts because Crooks sees him as a figure of trust as he’s unable to remember what he’s told. We also see Crooks and Slim’s relationship as Slim is the only character Steinbeck wants the reader to admire-Slim represents all that is good in society. Consequently, ‘Of Mice and Men’ relates to the pivotal issues that were in society at the time such as loneliness, racism, prejudice and isolation. Steinbeck uses the novel to bring light on these issues, and uses the microcosm ranch to represent the whole of society. In Chapter 2 of the novel ‘Of Mice and Men’ Steinbeck reveals Crooks to the audience by the ranch swamper Candy. Steinbeck deliberately introduces Crooks using another character to highlight the inferiority compared to the other characters, as Crooks is unable to introduce himself the impression the reader gets off him is biased towards the inherently racist society and the views of others, that would’ve been influenced by society as well. Alternatively because Crooks wasn’t given his own voice to introduce himself this reflects back on the lack of social voice and identity that black people were given. Steinbeck shows how insignificant Crooks’ character is on the ranch as he introduced as part of a story and not as an individual. This infers that he is in the background of their lives and that he has no close links with any other ranch members. This affects the reader as they empathise with Crooks’ situation as he is so isolated and is unable to have any relationships with the other ranch workers; also the racist and prejudice society at the time limits him to what he can do or who he can become.
When Candy introduces Crooks he casually refers to him as a “nigger” revealing the everyday racism of the time. However when Steinbeck refers to Crooks he refers to him as a “negro” which was seen as a more respectable term for blacks in society. Steinbeck purposely does this to show how society was disrespectful and racist juxtaposed to how they can be respectable if they refer to blacks as “negro”. Steinbeck reveals to the reader how isolated Crooks is, when Candy says “he’s got his own room” which infers that whilst all the ranch workers share room and socialise playing card games, Crooks sits in his room reading books; Perhaps he reads to escape from the real world he lives in as in books he is able to let his imagination take him away into his dreams. Also as Crooks appears he can read he defies society’s perceptions of black people being illiterate at the time due to their lack of educational rights. Steinbeck reveals to the reader how Crooks is used by the boss as a way of letting out his anger, and how Crooks is treated differently to the other men because of his skin...
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