Need 2 or 3 reasons this novel could not be set in the present time.
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Well It is not the 1930's and it is not the great depression (yet!). There are itinerant workers like George and Lenny but there are not so many that walk from town to town scavenging for work. Generally there are some standards for working conditions now. There are also minimum wage requirements. Lennie would have a little more support (hopefully) from government rather than being completely dependent on George. Crooks, the black stable man, would not have to be segregated in his little horse hut. I think what is more interesting is the similarities. The greater theme of loneliness and isolation still permeates our society.