Of Mice and Men

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In the novel Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck places a lot of characters as having free will and determinism when in all truth they have none. The author uses stereotypes and discrimination to convey a message of how they are trapped. To quote a quite distinguished reader, “Characters are ‘trapped’ either by what others think of them, or by their situation.” A lot of the character’s feelings about themselves and what others think of them shows the extent of their freedom and determinism.

The characters of this novel have very little to look forward to as migrant ranch hands. They travel from ranch to ranch with all their belongings in a bundle, looking for work for fifty dollars a month. If a man is good at what they do in that job, he might be kept on at the ranch indefinitely and wind up as Candy does, old and crippled, always waiting until he is no longer useful. George in the beginning of the story explains the despair of a ranch hand to Lennie:

“Guys like us that work on ranches are the loneliest guys in the world. They got no family. They don’t belong no place. They come to a ranch an’ work up a stake and then they go into town and blow their stake, and the first thing you know they’re poundin’ their tail on some other ranch. They ain’t got nothing to look ahead to (Of Mice and Men 13-14)

The life of a ranch hand maybe grim, yet the characters in the novel are still vulnerable to dreams if freedom and are determined to succeed. George and Lennie’s way to freedom one day be able to own a land, so he (Lennie) can pet as many rabbits as he wants. Candy and Crooks also has hopes on joining them. Curley’s wife wishes to be free from her husband so she can become an actress.

These hopes and dreams, however, cannot exist without friendship. This is most demonstrated in the relationship between George and Lennie. Without the other neither character would be able to maintain the desire. Lennie is constantly asking George to “Tell about how it’s gonna...
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