Crooks

Topics: Black people, Of Mice and Men, Human skin color Pages: 5 (2072 words) Published: January 28, 2014
Steinbeck describes Crooks as a ‘proud, aloof man. He kept his distance and demanded other people kept theirs.’ Explore the character of Crooks and his importance in novel as a whole. Crooks may be a minor character in the novel but he is an important one because the way he represents and demonstrates to the reader how Steinbeck feels about the society in which he lives and his character provides us knowledge on the social context of the novel that Crooks and other characters had to live with. Throughout the novel we feel sympathy for Crooks because he is mistreated and segregated. He is below all the other characters and there is a lot of evidence to prove this. Unlike the rest of the ranch workers he calls ‘Slim’ ‘Mr Slim’. He is expected to respect people because of the colour of his skin although we know he was actually born in California where the novel was set. In chapter two of ‘Of Mice and Men’ Crooks is mentioned for the first time. When Candy tells George about a night in which Crooks had a fight with ‘Smitty’, he admits ‘Jesus, we had fun’. Candy’s idea of ‘fun’ is shocking to the reader. It suggests that in the 1930’s it is fine to attack a man for entertainment and it is justified by the fact Crooks is black. Candy refers to Crooks as ‘the nigger’ this is a derogatory term and Candy uses it casually and without inhibition, he is using it carelessly as if this is his name, he does not think about how it would make Crooks feel. This can be compared with Curley’s Wife no one tries to learn her name as she is below them. Candy using the phrase ‘the nigger’ as a name and not an insult shows the audience he is not an equal to the others on the ranch. ‘The’ is making it direct. Everyone knows who he is talking about because Crooks is the only black man on the ranch. Calling him the ‘the’ instead of ‘him’ makes Crooks an outsider to the rest of the ranch. After telling his story Candy ‘paused in relish of the memory’ this shows Candy quite enjoys the memory of Crooks getting beat up and he thinks it is a funny story. Crooks lived when you could kill a man and get away with it, and to Candy the almost killed coloured man makes the experience funnier. Crooks is important in Chapter Four. In chapter four Steinbeck makes Crooks very lonely as he is separated from the rest. We can compare this with other characters. The theme of Loneliness runs through the novel, George and Lennie have no one but each other. Candy delays killing his dog because he knows the loneliness that will follow. This foreshadows George’s decision to kill Lennie to save him from suffering. Curley’s Wife is lonely, in a love less marriage. She deals with her loneliness by flirting with the men in the barn. Crooks is lonely. The loneliness he felt in the novel was the way most black men felt at the time, he is not the average man on the ranch and is not treated equal because of his skin colour and his disability. Crooks deals with his loneliness through cruelty and bitterness. Crooks is segregated from the rest in his own sleeping quarters because he’s black. He stays in a ‘little shed leaned off a wall’. It is a stable in the barn, we feel sympathy for him because he has to share everything with the hoses, ‘and in it the range of medicine bottles, both for himself and the horses’. Even though he was the only human in his room, it isn’t really his own. Crooks bed was ‘a long box filled with straw’ this suggests he doesn’t have a proper bed, he is treated like an animal, with a bed of straw. The animal comparison runs through this chapter including Lennie who’s told he with be ‘tied with a collar like a dog’ we know that Crooks ‘had books too’ this suggests he is lonely, he doesn’t ‘play cards’ with the others, he spends his time reading. One book is a ‘mauled copy of the California Civil code for 1905’ this book is the rules for black segregation in the novel. The word ‘mauled’ tells the reader he has read it a lot and checked over what rights he...
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