Of Mice and Men

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Explore the ways John Steinbeck presents ideas on society in “of mice and men”? Paragraph 1 In the novel, Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck explores many cultural and social issues during the era of the great depression. Of Mice and Men is a novel about two migrant workers and their dreams which never become true. In this text the learning experience for the reader is that, dreams are unattainable and hard to accomplish. Steinbeck utilizes character archetypes to demonstrate the injustice the marginalized suffer in society. The reader incorporates from this novel that the marginalized in society have dreams which never come true. George and Lennie are two itinerant workers who have a dream to be, "living of the fatta the lan", and to be independent. Steinbeck foreshadows their dream as he gave away slight hints earlier in the novel which hinted to the readers that the characters were never going to achieve their dreams. An example of foreshadowing was when Steinbeck depicted that Lennie killed mice and then, 'graduated' to killing a dog, after this it could be seen the novel would not have a pleasant ending. This implies to the reader that novel depicts the failure of the American dreams as the novel shows racism, discrimination and fails to depict that 'all people have an equal chance of success'. Racism is evident in this text by the use of Crook's character, who is a black worker utilized to show racism.   Paragraph 2 Theme of racism and loneliness shown through the character of Crooks in 'Of Mice and Men' is that this is based in the 1930's at this time racism was abolished but still carried on, the Great Depression was at its worst so people became lonely because they had to go and work of ranches. The Great the Depression is when the biggest banks of the USA became bankrupted, so all the people who invested in the banks lost all their money. This made some people depressed and did not think they could not cope. But in most cases they carried on with their treacherous lives. This is symbolized by Crooks in the story. He is a 'lonely' and desperate for communication for others because of his colour. John Steinbeck realized this racism at this time and separates Crooks from the rest of the ranch workers. The ranch is a microcosm to the hole of America. This conveys to the reader that in this time when the Great Depression was at its worst people became lonely because they had to travel around ranches to find work, there was one place where people didn't argue except the Native Americans about the racism, was in fact the racism but it showed most people that they went at the bottom of the chain and showed a ray of hope of the ranch works   Paragraph 3 Curley's wife represents the typical women in the 1930s. She had 'full, rouged lips and wide-spaced eyes, heavily made up. Her fingernails were red. Her hair hung in little rolled clusters. She wore a cotton house dress and red mules, on the instep of which were little bouquets of red ostrich feathers.' Curley's wife is never named in the novel: she is referred to as Curley's wife, making her sound as if she is Curley's possession, an object. She is not treated as an individual in her own right, which is something she bitterly resents, but she is seen by various other characters as a symbol of other things: a temptress, a chattel, a sex-object, or even a piece of 'jail bait'. This shows us that despite she is married she flaunts herself around the ranch in an inappropriate clothing. The reason for this is because she is bored, and unhappy, and not seeking enough attention from Curley. She wants to make him jealous, by flirting with all the men in the ranch, and making him jealous.   Paragraph 4 Throughout 'Of Mice and Men' the author, John Steinbeck, uses symbolism to reflect some of the characters motives and their relationships with one another. Steinbeck uses particular extracts, to relate to the different characters in the book, each of them representing a wide range of people in society at that time. One of the first aspects that Steinbeck uses as a source of symbolism, is the title. 'Of Mice and Men' is actually the title of a poem written by the famous Scottish poet and writer of folksongs Robert Burns. The poem is about a mouse whose nest is destroyed by a plough. The best laid schemes 'O Mice and Man gang oft agley,' meaning things often go wrong. The poem and title basically mean that plans don't always go as they were meant to. The title is symbolic to the book, as, certain characters are metaphorically ploughed: Many of the characters in the novel have dreams, in the sense that they have hopes and ambitions. Lennie and George have a dream of living on a farm together, where they would be free. The 'dream farm' represents the ambition and possibility to escape from the itinerant workers' loneliness and poverty. This implies to the reader that the safest way for Lennie and the rabbits, is to be quiet. The ranch itself symbolizes the society as a whole in the 1930s. The workers on the ranch live lives that are unnatural because they lead a rootless existence outside of any proper society. It symbolizes how people had to look for a job all over the country to make a living. The ranch reflects the poverty, inequality and living conditions at that time: how George searched for vermin when he first arrived at the ranch, how Crooks is separated from the rest, in his own room, due to the racial discrimination. And again, how Curley's wife is treated in the ranch: not equal, with very little respect. George is the one who looks after Lennie and has done for years. He symbolizes the person who cares for someone and doesn't look for a reward in return.   Paragraph 5 Throughout the novel Steinbeck deliberately under-represents women, with the only female to physically make an appearance being Curley’s wife, and she is not even afforded the dignity of a name. This is perhaps to reflect the fact that women in 1930s America often weren’t afforded the thought and importance their equal numbers with men deserved. Only three types of women appear or are described in Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men; “Aunt Clara”, portrayed as the domestic hero and noble housewife women at the time were generally expected to become – then, Curley’s wife being an example, there is also those who have failed to become the above, and hence are instead dismissed as a “tart” or “jailbait” by the ranch hands. The third includes “Susy”; the owner of a brothel’ “cracking” jokes all the time”. Steinbeck immediately dismiss Curley’s wife, choosing to describe her as a “girl” rather than a ‘woman’, then describing only her appearance as “heavily made up”, and wearing a “cotton house dress”, as if these were the only important features about her. Tragically, Curley’s wife herself seems to realise her placement at the bottom of the hierarchy of the ranch, when she includes herself in noting “they left all the weak ones here”. Indeed, she relies on her husband for any place among them, perhaps a sad reflection that a woman’s social standing was often only as high as who her husband was. This conveys to the reader that Steinbeck shows his attitude to Curley's wife when Lennie and her were talking in Chapter 5. They seem to be very similar, both very innocent and naive with their love for soft things and dreams. And when she dies, he describes her as "very pretty and simple" with "all the meanness and the planning’s and the discontent and the ache for attention...gone from her face". Almost as if she is better off dead than she was alive, because now she isn't part of a cruel world where all she got was unhappiness and loneliness.  Her death in this way is again, almost the same as Lennie's. The reader may think it was better off that way, for Lennie to die happily, thinking his dream was finally coming true.

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