Of Mice and Men

Of Mice and Men, and Racism: Analyzing the Character of Crooks 11th Grade

Throughout the novella “Of Mice and Men,” Steinbeck uses the character of crooks to highlight the racial discrimination in 1930s America. During the great depression Black Americans faced hostility, bigotry and persecution. In Southern states, Jim Crow laws bolstered racial segregation and groups such as the Ku Klux Klan were extremely active. Despite his own humanism, Steinbeck does not systematically aim to write either for or against racism but simply portrays the harsh reality of the time. As a reader we begin to see the psychological and emotional impact that this has on Crooks.

During the 1930s for most white Americans, racism was normal. Blacks were "inferior" according to the popular prejudices of the time. The realism of dialogue in "Of Mice and Men" highlights this unfortunate historical context well. Steinbeck imitates the way the ranch hands really spoke giving us an accurate insight into the context of the novel. In 186 pages Crooks is referred to as ‘nigger’ 16 times. When Candy mentions Crooks for the first time in section two, he says “Ya see the stable buck's a nigger." However, he immediately follows up by saying that crooks is a “Nice fella too.” This perfectly displays the normality of racism in the 1930s....

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