Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
At first glance, Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck is a tale of two best friends traveling the countryside looking for work. This would seem like the norm for lower class people trying to survive in the rat race of society. Yet, the story isnt merely George and Lennies search for jobs. Rather, it is about their all out quest for the American Dream, the dream of owning their own stake of land and ending their subservience to their bosses. In order for this to happen, however, George and Lennie had to remain a team. They had to pool their resources as well as their manpower, something their apparent mutual love for each other seemed to take care of. Yet, an irrevocable rift between them sent the dream crashing down. This caused Georges feelings of love and understanding to change from being existent to non-existent.
Since the passing of Lennies aunt, George felt an obligation to take care of Lennie as well as to act as his guardian. George fulfilled this role with love and understanding. We first see change in Georges attitude towards Lennie when they moved onto the ranch, their place of work. George immediately feels that he is jeopardizing his relationship with other men in order to defend Lennies actions. George is further discouraged when he realizes, based on Lennies behavior that he can never be left alone- even to go to the bathroom. Lennie cant even be trusted not to kill puppies while petting them. Lennie, in fact, goes so far as to kill the owners daughter-in-law. By this point, George, a nice yet overly ambitious individual, could no longer control this growing contempt towards his once beloved Lennie.
As Georges feelings changed, he started vocalizing his frustrations towards Lennie. Before, George would plead with Lennie with words of love to run away. Now, George actually suggests it. George relates to Lennie that he feels that he is “holding me (George) back from the good life”, and that he could get his own little stake of land if he freed himself of Lennie and his shortcomings. This is something the old George would never dream of saying. George further alienates Lennie by scolding him mercilessly after Lennie innocently told Crooks their future dreams. These comments reflected Georges sentiments exactly. Lennie had become more of a nuisance than George could even handle.
Once it becomes obvious that Lennie killed Curleys wife, George knew what they had to do. There was no place for a retarded man in Georges coarse, hard world. George killed Lennie for both their own goods. Neither of them could handle the constant fleeing that Lennies condition caused them to do. Lennie was too much of a trouble for himself, and for that matter, George as well. George could not deal with the responsibility of taking care of Lennie anymore. Georges loving feelings towards Lennie changed drastically, so he killed him and them went on with his life.
George didnt have to bother with Lennie; he could have abandoned him and gone on his own way. But, he did not do that. He stayed with Lennie watching over him almost like a parent to a child. Even though Lennie always got George in trouble, George never stopped loving him and always stood by him. The friendship they shared went beyond what was transparent. They each shared a dream and both knew they meant the world to each other. For all their relationship shows for friendship and loyalty, it also shows how sometimes you have to do things you never thought you would do. When George is forced to shoot Lennie in the head, we would have never thought he would do that. But, we can see that under the circumstances, George had no other choice. He only had two choices. He would have let the other people get to him first and watch them torture Lennie while he died a long horrible death. Or, George would do it himself and get over it quickly where Lennie would not know what hit him. This is also true in life. Many times we are faced with tough choices and even
” There are many levels of racial prejudice exhibited throughout the novel to illustrate Crooks’ insecurity. The majority of ranch hands dislike or don’t socialise with Crooks, although they would not go out of their way to insult him. This attitude of the farm-hands increases Crooks’ insecurity, as he has no one to talk or socialise with, which results in him feeling lonely. Crooks go on about his loneliness to Lennie “A guy needs somebody to be near him” he whined. “A guy goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody.
Don’t make no difference who the guy is, long’s he’s with you” he cried “I tell ya a guy gets too lonely an he gets sick” . By this stage Crook is looking for sympathy, he is so incredibly lonely even to the point of saying that loneliness can make you ill. Curley’s wife on the other hand is rude without excuse. “listen nigger”, she said you know what I can do to you if you open your trap”. She abuses her position and has no respect for him at all, she doesn’t even refer to him by his name. It is attitudes like hers that have made him so insecure and turned him into the bitter man he has become.
“Crooks had reduced himself to nothing. There is no personality, no ego, nothing, to instigate either like or dislike. We as readers can comprehend Crooks is insecure. He is a free man, unlike a lot of black men in those days. Crooks is still segregated from the others and feels threatened when they invade his space. “Crooks is a proud, aloof man. He keeps his distance and demanded that people keep theirs”. During the late 1920’s although Black American civilians were not slaves anymore, the mentally of the White Americans in spite of everything was still as corrupt and spiteful as it ever was.
As a result the Black American “Negro’s” were treated in the same reprehensible way, if anything worse. The Language used to describe Crooks reveals to the readers his insecurity by the sharp, agitated language Jon Steinbeck utilises when he writes what Crooks says. The sharp and agitated style of writing informs the readers that Crooks is nervous, he isn’t feeling secure or safe. Lennie is a mentally slow, childlike character, who is very accident prone in any surroundings when unsupervised by George. Lennie’s appearances are.
“A huge man”, who is colossal to George and has, “… wide sloping shoulders” . Lennie’s appearances imply that he could be a nasty or tough character; however he is the absolute opposite. Lennie is a character who’s kind and friendly towards anyone unless told otherwise by George. Lennie’s devotion towards George is untouchable, as Crooks discovers when Lennie intrudes into his room. Crooks tries to tease Lennie by saying George is will get hurt and not return, “S’pose he gets killed or hurt so he can’t come back. ” Lennie angered by his comments approaches crooks dangerously.
Lennie loves touching soft, smooth and gentle materials, like a child would favour velvet to leather. Lennie’s presented as a character that can be judged as secure and insecure alike, depending on how a person looks at it. George is a father figure to Lennie, who knows that George cares for him, protects him and he also thinks George will always be there for him. However Lennie though, like Crooks is a sad figure and is arguably perhaps Steinbeck’s metaphor for the state of his country during the economic depression.
He is illustrated in all senses a slumbering giant, not aware of what he is capable of in any sense, shape or form, and perhaps bearing in mind what was to occur a few short years later in the Second World War, a taste of what was to come emotionally and mentally. Even though Lennie is deemed childlike due to his mental condition, physically he is a giant and quite capable of hurting other people once his temper is triggered, of which curly discovered when he approached him in the bunkhouse ” “.
Of course during the caused of the play, where ultimate undoing is caused by a loss of temper on decling with Curley’s Wife, after she baits him, we see yet another sadness in the novel where George “puts his friend down” himself rather then taking the risk of another bad situation occurring elsewhere if they escaped, resulting in them both having too scamper away again, risking both there lives ” “. Lennie analogous to Crooks could therefore be a victim of circumstance, whilst he an the other dubious characters, Curley’s wife, whose will always stay a mystery, truly represent the saddest elements in the book.
In all their causes, as well as with the characters, we perceive that the only way they aim to get through life is through the victimization of the American Dream ” “. The reader will know from the early stage this is all it will ever be for the vast majority of the people we encounter in “Of Mice and Men”.