The ranch portrays a harsh, callous society with no place for the weak. Discuss.

Topics: Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck, Disability Pages: 5 (1845 words) Published: February 24, 2004
'Of Mice and Men', Steinbeck portrays a world dominated by powerful white able-bodied males. It is the views and opinions of this social type that permeate ranch society and those who come from outside these boundaries are ostracized and persecuted. Thus we have a world where Steinbeck describes the plight of women, black people, disabled people and those with mental disabilities showing the persecution and suffering they have to endure.

In 1930's American people had no work. Migrant workers moved from place to place to find work, without any proper relationship with others. They looked after themselves. It was a selfish and violent society of working and living in harsh environments, and where sexist attitudes towards women were commonplace.

As George and Lennie arrive at the bunkhouse of the ranch, Steinbeck describes the bleak scenery of the bunkhouse. The wall of this "rectangular building...", "the floor unpainted....", and "there was a nailed apple - box". Almost every part of the bunk is made of things that were already used. It wasn't a nice place to sleep at all. When George and Lennie came into the bunkhouse, George immediately commented "What the hell kind of bed you giving us, anyway?" George said this because the bed was very dirty and full of lice. Bleakness and darkness are the general atmosphere of the world at that time and we learn that bunkhouse is a metaphor of the society which characters live in. Through this metaphor, Steinbeck tried to show harsh environments of human society, which force people to be selfish and violent to survive.

In this novel, there are many social outcasts. Crooks, the stable buck, may be the most persecuted character in the novel. He lived separated from other people because he was black. At Christmas, they made Crooks fight with white men with his hands tied back. They didn't care how Crooks felt as they only wanted to have fun at the expense of the weak. Most of the men was prejudiced against Crooks referring to him as the "nigger". They treated him badly and used him for entertainment. Calling him "nigger" is similar to it. It is so ironic that Crooks the most persecuted one with no dream, has a copy of the California civil code for 1905 and read more books than any other. The book is about human rights. This represents the callous society very well. There is nothing that can protect the weak including the law and what decide people's lives are not contents of their mind but colour of their skin.

Another excellent example was when they were having dinner in the ranch. George and Lennie were new so Slim asked them to get the food before it finished. "You guys better come on while they's still something to eat. Won't be nothing left in a couple minutes". This showed how selfish the ranch men were. They didn't care whether the other men had anything to eat or not, but they just think about themselves.

Curley is also one of the great examples of selfishness. He didn't care about his wife. He never had a proper conversation with her like a wife and a husband should have. He only wanted to have sex with his wife and didn't care about how she felt. Curley kept "his hand soft for his wife" and went around boasting to other men about it. Curley is described as pugnacious when we first met him and George remarks "...What the hell's he got on his shoulder". Curley is resentful and angry towards everyone. He does not like big men and seems to have an inferiority complex because he is a small man.

No doubt, Curley's behavior was linked to how Curley's wife behaved. All the workers in the ranch thought that Curley's wife was a tart, because she liked to flirt around and give every men the eyes. "She's got the eyes". She was heavily made up and she acted like a scarlet woman. The truth is nobody understand her. She liked to flirt around because she felt extremely lonely and isolated. She tried to cover up her loneliness and sought companion in the wrong way. Most of the...
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