Are all the characters in of mice and men powerless?
The theme powerlessness is presented in multiple ways to show the personalities on the characters throughout the novel; Steinbeck uses the social and economic circumstances to reflect the men’s loneliness. It was written in 1937, set in America during the great depression, the characters – in a country with abundant resources left many having nothing to take control of, nothing to have power over an nothing they could do about it, most men had very few possessions and no or little authority leaving them in a very unknown state. Whilst most of the time there’s normally a natural hierarchy – with nothing to base this on men couldn’t find their place and no longer had power. This is portrayed greatly in ‘of mice and men’ an despite there being a hierarchy on the ranch, in the bigger picture each man was in the same position.
Firstly the whilst on the ranch it is shown to have its usual ‘pecking order’ of the men, even curly is powerless he’s a bully and then there’s his wife who’s never received an identity, she’s just an object of Curley yet she still tries to manipulate others, although Lennie has power in his strength and described many times like animals such as “paw” or the idea that he’s like a bear who managed to crush Curley’s hand, but even so – Lennie has no control over his strength and so cannot be used in his advantage and is constantly relying on George. As for George he cannot live independently and it may seem as though Lennie is always relying on him but they have a symbiotic relationship and George is unable to make decisions for himself. Crooks was a black man living in the 1930s which automatically removes all his power and authority.
Curley is a typical 1930s ranch man; he carries many traits that the majority of men did during the great depression, all he wants is more authority. From the moment Curley is first introduced we see how uptight and angry he is, in his description it says he closed his hands “into fists” and went into “a slight crouch” already this gives us the impressions on how aggressive he is yet from these quotes we see that despite the ‘tough’ show Curley puts on he is so intimidated by the strength of Lennie. In addition to this Curley has no respect for his wife and tries to emphasize his power by boasting about his sex life and treating her like an object. Due to the way Curley acts towards Lennie his actions result in no one achieving their dreams. This makes Curley powerless has nothing will ever be enough for him he will never be the ‘best’ or the ‘strongest’ or the ‘most powerful’
Curley’s wife is presented in a number of ways, whilst never being given an identity and being referred to as a sexual object she still holds more power than most of the men as although they refuse to speak to her shown here “ain’t I got a right to talk to nobody whatta they think I am anyways? You’re a nice guy, I don’t know why I can’t talk to you, I ain’t doing no harm...