a) How does Steinbeck use details in this passage to present the bunkhouse and its inhabitants?
Steinbeck uses many different ideas to present to present the bunkhouse and its inhabitants. Steinbeck emphasises that the inhabitants have little possessions by commenting about the “apple box” forming “two shelves for the personal belongings of the occupant of the bunk”. As all the occupants would be itinerant workers, which meant that they had a nomadic lifestyle, this also highlights that the occupants couldn’t afford possessions and probably didn’t have a lot of room for them anyway. This indicates that they had little home comfort and it was probably quite an uncomfortable, stark and hostile environment they lived in.
This lack of familiarity or care is also further portrayed by the description of the bunkhouse itself. The walls are described as “whitewashed” and the floor is “unpainted”. This could indicate that the owners of the bunkhouse really don’t care about the inhabitants. However, this may not be because the owners dislike the inhabitants, more probably because the itinerant workers don’t stay around for long enough for the workers and the boss to have a proper relationship. This reiterates the point that “maybe everyone in the whole damn world is scared of each other” and the society they live in is truly a backstabbing and hostile environment.
We even know that Crooks, who is a long time inhabitant of the bunkhouse, isn’t treated fairly and much more like an animal because he lives in the barn and he has little possessions. This also shows how cruel their environment is.
Despite all of this – at least the inhabitants still have pride. This is demonstrated by George’s disgust when he finds a yellow can of pest killer next to his bed, indicating that the bed may be infested. Clearly, George was not expecting there to be pests in his bed which could indicate that he is a cynical man and has been hardened by his...
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