How Does Steinbeck Present Disadvantaged Characters

Topics: John Steinbeck, Great Depression, Of Mice and Men Pages: 7 (2537 words) Published: December 5, 2010
Explore some of the ways in which Steinbeck presents disadvantaged characters in the novel

In 1937, the American author John Steinbeck published 'Of mice and Men'. Set in the Salinas Valley of California, it conveys the story of the struggles of the American people during 'The Great Depression'.

The Great Depression was a massive devastation throughout the whole of America where people suffered and the economy was at a huge crisis. The Unemployment rose from 3% to 26% and many people had died, showing how hard the citizens coped to survive in-between this difficult period. . The Americans were in a depriving financial state full of high inflation after an economic fall known as the 'The Wall Street Crash'

The nation only helped themselves by believing in their own dreams, which meant mostly to have their own lands, be rich and live a good-life- “The American Dream”. This ideology gave the public hopes of life and something to work towards.

John Steinbeck does not only explore how people struggled for their American dream, but also describes how difficult this melancholy period in history was for the “lesser” group of individuals at the time: the disadvantaged characters.

Lennie, a big simple-minded character, is a highly disadvantaged individual due to poor mental health. As Lennie is one of the predominant characters in ‘Of Mice and Men’, he is perhaps the least dynamic. He experiences no change in developing or growing in mental or practical abilities; the plain figure remains as illustrated at the start of the opening pages in the novel.

Although his character is displayed in this way, despite being under privileged he is based as a central protagonists in the story. Steinbeck conveys a general initiative to his readers that, Lennie’s actions make great affection. Being basic makes his choices morally incorrect- this shows his difficulties. Steinbeck uses the character of Lennie to symbolise the mentally underprivileged people of this period. “Let's have different colour rabbits, George.”Pg 16

“Just ain’t bright”24
Steinbeck shows his readers the stage of which Lennie's mind is developed; still like a child's, even though he is a fully-grown man. From the start of the novella, the reader must know that Steinbeck creates an illustration of Lennie as sadly being doomed, and must be sympathetic towards him. This is a construction built to present to the reader at the current time of the 1920's a huge disadvantage to the mentally handicapped society. The simple-minded character of Lennie also leads him to lack in responsibility and trust. He is shown to have no knowledge of any financial or general life problems, therefore Steinbeck creates a main part for George to play in, and this is where he has to take the weight on his shoulders for Lennie. ”if you jus' happen to get in trouble like you always done before, I want you to come right here an' hide in the brush”, ”Leggo his hand, Lennie”, 64

”You tol' me to George,”64
The author is trying to portray an image to his readers that Lennie cannot think for his self and has to be controlled; this is another big under privilege towards the mentally handicapped people.

Lennie also speaks without grammatical sense and this shows he is uneducated and not taught to talk proper English, “they was so little” pg 11
“Don't tell nobody” PG61

Lastly the biggest let down for the simple minded figure is not being able to adapt a level of understanding to the normal person , Lennie cannot tell the strength he applies or has when used. This makes him very innocent when attacking someone without knowing, He also loves to pet animals and furry material but while this process, as he is a strong figure, he kills the being. ”'Don't you go yellin', he said, and shook her; and her body flopped like a fish. And then she was still, for Lennie had broken her neck.”90 The author uses the word 'and' repetitively showing how dramatic the moment is. Steinbeck depicts...
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