Of Mice and Men: A Powerful Display
The Great Depression was a period of time in the 1930s when America was in a state of
economic collapse. Poverty and unemployment were common, thus, leading to large amounts
of migrant workers. In Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, the author conveys the struggle and
hardship the characters cope with in order to attain the “American Dream” in this now defective
world; prejudice, isolation and lack of security are examples of the many adversities in which
have reoccurring themes throughout the story. It is set in California, on a hostile ranch, showing
us life for migrant workers at this time. It is not easy for George and Lennie. Being polar
opposites and getting kicked out of their town because of a crime accidentally committed, they
travel north to Soledad in attempt to find a new beginning and achieve their dream. Lennie,
George and the other ranch hands work tiring hours trying to make something of themselves;
this leading to many challenges.
In society, both modern and in the past, prejudice has been seen as a way to label
groups of people based on race, culture gender and class to distinguish a sense of superiority,
when in reality it is simply a way to judge others without gathering valid facts. The author
presents through this novel just how rampant prejudice was in the 1930s and how easily it
generates false perceptions. Racial prejudice is most significant when describing Crooks. While
the other workers live in the same bunkhouse, attend the same jobs and play the same games,
Crooks is forced to live by himself, work alone at a demanding job and have next to no social
contact with the other characters. Being a black, disabled labourer is a burden in this era.
People, such as Curley’s wife, go as far as to acutely ridicule him. On one occasion, Curley’s
wife threatens Crooks: “Listen Nigger, you know what I can do if you open your trap?” (80). The
open brutality of this comment shows that even a woman, who normally should not have
anything to say for herself, is still considered higher in social class than an African-American.
As a result of being an outcast on the ranch, Crooks has become isolated and disjoined from
the other members; this illustrating one of the many prejudices that low-class society members
are faced with, in this day and age.
Throughout this novel the author communicates that isolation and loneliness have a
greater aﬀect on us than one might think. Steinbeck’s characters experience diﬀerent types of
isolation based on specific prejudices found within themselves. This deteriorating theme is
represented in Crooks and his alienation due to his race, Candy due to his age, and Curley's
wife due to her quality as "jail bait”. Candy, characterized as an old swamper, is victimized into
isolation as a result of two main aspects: his age and base-line disability. Before being drawn
into a miserable killing by a fellow ranch-worker, Candy’s dog is the one way he coped with his
loneliness. He is...