top-rated free essay

Hardships of 19th Century

By pandasilove Mar 21, 2011 1003 Words
The early 1900’s and the era of the Great Depression were times of great changes and hardships. There were wars, the relocation of many people just to find work, and huge gaps and problems between social groups such as African Americans and Caucasians and the poor and rich. In John Steinbeck’s novel, Of Mice and Men, an abundance of problems the characters face reflects real life situations. The story follows two men, Lennie and George, as they deal with the hardships presented to them. The many problems that they endure and see is what mostly occurred during the early 1900’s. For example, Crooks, an African American stable hand, is being discriminated against because of his race; Candy is constantly worried about losing his job since he knows he would not find another job because he is handicapped and old. Thus the problems that the characters confront, like discrimination and unemployment, are greatly influenced by the real-life situations of migrant workers and the different ways certain social groups were treated during the Great Depression.

The Great Depression was a major event that caused a significant amount of distress on countless of people. The stock market crashed leaving many people unemployed, famished, and homeless. There was practically no money around but people still managed to gain debts they could not pay off at the time. It was a time in which “business was weak and many people were out of work” (Pillai). People struggled to keep themselves, their families, and their hopes alive. The setting of Of Mice and Men is the 1930’s in the Salinas Valley of California. It mostly takes place on a ranch filled with men that are there for almost the same reason; to find a job and to find a way to support themselves. Numerous of people had the same goal as many of the ranch workers. In the 1930’s African American men had already gained the right to vote but were still not treated as equals to whites. They were cruelly and unfairly mistreated. Crooks, an African American stable buck, is judged based on his skin color. He lives in a little shack apart from the other men in the bunkhouse. People living on the ranch rarely enters his room. When Lennie approaches Crooks’ room, Crooks responds “You got no right to come in my room. This here’s my room. Nobody got any right in here but me” (Steinbeck 68). Crooks is resentful that he must live away from the others, yet he is confrontational to the men on the ranch when they invade his space. Crooks is excluded from mostly everything because of his race, just like every African American in the 1900s. African Americans were not allowed to interact casually with Caucasians. Since Crooks is the only African American on the ranch, he is not allowed to play cards or communicate casually with the other ranch members unless they initiate the interaction.

In addition to African Americans being viewed in a negative manner, women were also viewed in a negative manner. Society had established the ideology that women, like Curley’s wife, were only seen as possessions of their husbands and not as a possession of their own self. “These women were truly on the margins, practically invisible” (Ware). Women did not have as much significance as men, they were treated like objects not humans. People did not focus on them or care about what they have to say. An example from the novel is Curley’s wife, she is not given an identity. She is only referred to as “Curley’s wife” making it seem like she is only Curley’s property. Most of the time in the novel, Curley is searching for his wife demanding the men on the ranch if they have seen her ( Steinbeck 53). Curley does not mention her name, he just asks if anyone has seen his wife or a girl (Steinbeck 37). Not providing Curley’s wife with a name, lessens her significance as a woman and a human being and results in making Curley’s wife seem like an object belonging to Curley. In Of Mice and Men, Steinbeck mirrors the circumstances of a laborer in the early 1900s by describing the frustrations of migrant workers’ lives and their attempts to locate a place of their own. Due to the stock market crash of 1929, in which prices of farm crops decreased because of a great decline, farmers were forced to produce more goods in order to make money (Fanslow). Farmers had to increase their mechanization and the cultivation of more land, but this forced the farmers to spend more money and gain a debt they could not pay off (Fanslow). Finding employment “prompted a migration of small farmers and laborers from Oklahoma, Texas, and Kansas, to California” (Chavez). Going on the road caused these farm workers to carry their belongings and leave their homes filled with hope to find work along the way. George and Lennie, as well as other characters such as Candy and Crooks, in Steinbeck’s novel attempt to work hard enough to earn their way into living off the land and have everything they want without having to struggle to find work again (Steinbeck 14). Lennie’s and George’s goal is big since everyone during that time was struggling, even the rich; it will be extremely tough for them to achieve their goal.

Life during the 1900’s was very tough. Discrimination and unemployment were very common everywhere and it affected everyone. Particular social groups like African Americans and women were still viewed in a negative way because of their race, gender roles, and rights. John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men reflects the hardships many people faced at the time. The problems that the characters confront, like discrimination and unemployment, are greatly influenced by the real-life situations of migrant workers and the different ways certain social groups were treated during the Great Depression.

Cite This Document

Related Documents

  • Public Health In The 19th Century

    ...Wohl (1983) gave a well researched historical account of public health and development in Britain from the middle of the 19th century to the early 20th century. The devastating poverty and poor physical health of most of the population, lucidly described by the author, were horrendous. At the beginning of the Victorian period few people were fr...

    Read More
  • American History-19th Century

    ...As urban industrial workers expanded in the 19th century, industry and the industrial work force boomed as well. Workers , however, were met with difficult situations that ultimately led to violent outbursts. Low wages could not buy food and clothes at the same time and conditions in the work place brought about countless deaths and injuries. G...

    Read More
  • 19th Century Industrialization

    ...19th Century Industrialization Nineteenth Century Industrialization During the second half of the nineteenth century, the United States experienced an urban revolution unparalleled in world history up to that point in time. As factories, mines, and mills sprouted out across the map, cities grew up around them. The late nineteenth century,...

    Read More
  • American Literature in the 19th Century

    ...inferior "savages" by the white man. Rather, the white man should be willing to set good examples through gentleness to make them socially acceptable. To Crevecoeur, a country could never truly flourish with an imprudent system such as slavery in place, which was quite a progressive stance for the time. It took a lot of courage to speak out f...

    Read More
  • 19th century compare and contrast

    ...Early 19th Century Compare and Contrast Back in the late 18th century – early 19th century, crime punishments were extraordinarily brutal. For example, if a thief stole from another person, they would be branded with the letter “T” on their hand. In this time era, these people believed in public humiliation in order to get the point a...

    Read More
  • Essay on 19th Century Russia

    ...Year 11 2013 – Mark- 19.5/20 Karabar Distance Education Unit COPYRIGHT Explain why it was so difficult for revolutionary movements in the 19th century to succeed. During the 19th century numerous revolutionary groups attempted to overthrow the tsarist regime. Beginning in 1825 with the Decembrist revolt, revolutionary groups establishe...

    Read More
  • 19th Century England

    ...19th Century England During the 19th Century, England was transformed by the industrial revolution. It was also a period of social and political unrest. Levels of sanitation were improved, as was the quality of housing. During this period, living standards were raised and it was a relatively peaceful period. It was a period of prosperity and ...

    Read More
  • Reform Movements of the 19th Century

    ...Role of Religion in European and Colonial Society Religion played an important role in European and Colonial Society. Religion had a major impact and influence on the family life, education and government in the European and Colonial Societies. The European and Colonial Society had dissimilar outlooks when it came to religion. While religion...

    Read More

Discover the Best Free Essays on StudyMode

Conquer writer's block once and for all.

High Quality Essays

Our library contains thousands of carefully selected free research papers and essays.

Popular Topics

No matter the topic you're researching, chances are we have it covered.