The Bunkhouse

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What does the bunkhouse show us about the lives of the ranch hands?

When George and Lennie arrive at the bunkhouse, in front of them stood two bunks and 8 beds. The room was only small so sharing a room with 8 other ranch hands suggests no personal space, a crowded environment with no peace and quiet.

At the end of each bed, a small ‘apple box’ was provided to hold personal belongings. Having such a small space to keep all belongings indicates a lack of them. Ranch hands are always on the move, from farm to farm, walking from one state to another in aid to find a job, having a lot of possessions would make the treks harder and longer so having few goods will make the journey faster. A shortage of space alongside the other ranch hands can also explain the reason for the small storage.

The book suggests a lack of care and no attention to detail as it describes the bunk house’s characteristics. The ‘white wash walls’ and the ‘floor unpainted’ does not portray a good quality and high standard of living. The room seems to have no life or a sense of home to it; this may be because a ranch hand would never usually stay at the ranch for a long period of time and your perception of the bunkhouse should not be home-like.

“And those Western magazines ranch men love to read and scoff at and secretly believe.”

The Western magazines may symbolize the perceived impossibility of the American Dream. Reading the magazines could perhaps give ranch hands such as George and Lennie hope for the future. While others may find contentment in riches, George and Lennie find their happiness in hope.

The small windows imply a shortage of light and air, with the room being small, the bunkhouse sounds some what like an enclosed confinement.

Time, Place:

Salinas Valley, California during the Great Depression in the 1930s.

Background:

Lennie Small and his friend, George Milton, were forced to leave their homes because Lennie was accused of raping a girl from another town. The book begins with the two of them hiding from the angry townspeople. Lennie had a tendency to kill small, soft animals by accident; he was unaware of his own strength. This repeatedly leads to severe problems.   

George Milton - George is small, intelligent, dark of face, has restless eyes and sharp, strong features with every part of him defined. He is a cousin to Lennie and loves him very much. Always has to bail Lennie out of his troubles. Lennie Small - Lennie is unnaturally large and has a shapeless face. He drags his feet when he walks and lets his arms hang. He is mentally retarded and needs George's constant attention and care. He has an infatuation with anything soft and furry. He acts impulsively which gets him and George into trouble numerous times. Curley - Curley is the boss's son, and was a welterweight boxer. He was short and stocky, and wore high-heeled boots and spurs to prove he wasn't a laboring man. He believes himself superior to everyone. Candy-He is an old man that is missing a hand.He is an outcast and is  discriminated against. He offers his life savings to George and Lennie to  help finance their dream. He wants to be a part of it and live on the farm  with them. He has a friend and long time companion, his dog. Candy is afraid  of being alone but he consents to the killing of his dog and wishes he could  have killed him himself after it is over. Candy represents what will  ultimately happen to all ranch hands. They will get old and have no place to  go. Candy is very old and has hardly any money to his name.

Crooks-Black stable worker. He is disfigured and is an outcast as well as  Candy. He has a place of his own and stays there by himself. He doesn't want  company. He also wants to be part of George and Lennie's dream. He said that  he would work for free. He gives up on the farm dream when he realizes it  isn't going to work out. He is the only one who understands Lennie, besides  George, and...
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