Of Mice and Men, a heartbreaking tale, a strongheld protest
Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck’s naturalistic novella, is a tragic tale of two men traveling together in the hardships of the Great Deal. Frequently throughout the book Steinbeck indirectly critiques the flaws that the Great Deal contained. Within the text migrant workers, Lennie Small, a kind hearted mentally handicapped man and George Milton, a small, yet mighty spirited man, take on the troubles of the early thirties. The tale begins with the men traveling to a ranch in Soledad for employment, their hearts full of a dream to earn enough money to purchase a place of their own. Soon after their arrival their dream heightens once they meet an elderly swamper, Candy, whom offers to join them and pitch in his stake towards their farm fantasy. At the ranch, George befriends a man of his own mentality, Slim, who is highly respected and considered a leader. Lennie befriends an unexpected man, Crooks, whom is a black handicapped stable hand. Lennie and George's acheival of their dream becomes hindered by the troublesome characters Curley, the boss's son and Curley's wife, Curley's “tart” of a wife.
John Steinbeck's main purpose of writing this novella is to protest Roosevelt's New Deal and exploit that the damage the Great Depression caused was far from being completely restored. It helps to highlight the “minorities” the New Deal didn't cover upon, such as mentally handicapped people, handicapped people, the elderly, and african american peoples. Steinbeck expresses these faults through his themes: the discrimination of the “weak”characters, the importance of friendship/ the danger of loneliness through in the novella.
The theme of the discrimination of weak characters is shown through Lennie, Candy, Crooks, and Curley's wife throughout the novella. Lennie is regarded as a weak member of society during the 1930s due to his mental disability. Back in the 30s there was little-to-no knowledge on mental retardation. The New Deal only helped a certain group of people and did not highlight the needs of people like Lennie. No one understood his childish antics and labeled him as “dumb” and a burden to society, unaware of his inability to control his actions. Throughout the novella Lennie is looked down upon and treated with disrespect due to his handicapped mentality. George constantly belittles Lennie and bosses him around. In Chapter One of the novella George is incessantly telling Lennie what to do and scolding him like someone would a young child. Lennie is told by George to,“just stand there and don't say nothin” once they arrive at the ranch to work (Steinbeck 6). George tells Lennie to do so because he feels Lennie's “stupidity” will lose them their job, thus treating Lennie as a nuisance with a great amount of disrespect attached. Lennie is also ridiculed of his ill-intelligence by Curley, the boss's son in Chapter Three. Curley both verbally and physically abuses Lennie for laughing to himself and not being able to explain what about due to his mental capacity. Curley strikes Lennie continuously in the face, knowing Lennie won't fight back and cower only to the blows thrown his way(62). Curley repeatedly calls Lennie dumb and slanders him to the point of a mental breakdown (62-63). Steinbeck uses these instances to help exploit how people like Lennie were considered “weak” members of society in the 30s.
Candy, the aging crippled janitor of the ranch, is also considered a “weak” member of society in the time of Of Mice and Men. Back in the 30s the New Deal did not touch upon the needs of the handicapped or elderly, thus Candy is considered useless by the men he works with. Candy is regarded as “weak” by men on the ranch due to his amputated hand and old age. He is constantly treated poorly by the men at the ranch who treat him as a senile old man with invalid opinions. In Chapter Three of the novella, a...
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