Analysis: ”Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck
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In this passage taken from ‘Of Mice and Men’, Steinbeck illustrates how people from different walks of life can share a similar dream. The three characters, Lennie, Crooks and and Candy have all been damaged and bruised by life, yet still aim to have something small to call their own. Set in the barn on the ranch of ‘Soledad’, the characters share a conversation about dreams and ambitions. Lennie is visiting the Negro stable buck when Candy comes to investigate. Although Crooks seems irritated by the company, this is not entirely the case. ‘It was difficult for Crooks to conceal his pleasure with anger’, Steinbeck writes. Being Negro, Crooks is isolated from the rest of the men on the ranch, and it rarely allowed to indulge in the natural human desire to interact with others. He then points to the pile of manure under the window, furthermore emphasising the way Negros are treated, and how the standards vary from those of white men. Due to this pecking order, the white men choose not to associate with the Negros either. ‘Guys don’t come into a coloured mans room much,’ Crooks says, demonstrating the racism that occurs on the ranch.
Continuously trying to relate back to the topic of rabbits, Lennie interrupts Candy. ‘I get to tend them.. George says I get to tend them. He promised.’ Lennie’s childish obsession with rabbits is an example of his autistic tendencies. He appears to be completely oblivious to the rest of the world, instead focusing only on what directly affects him. Soon, Crooks interrupts the conversation in a brutal and negative manner. ‘You’ll talk about it a lot but you’ll never get no land,’ he says, almost sarcastically. Although this is likely, it seems that Crooks in simply putting down their dreams, as such desires are almost impossible for a Negro man like himself. ‘You god damn right we’re gonna do it,’ Candy says, fighting back angrily. The faint possibility of achieving their goal is enough to keep them motivated. Crooks’ determined and resilient allows him to believe that their dream in well on the way to being a reality. ‘Everybody want a little bit of land, not much. Jus’ something that was his.’ This is a key quote in the text, as it illustrates the common desire for security. It furthermore proves that their desire is not unusual, cementing their belief that it is achievable for them too. Candy continues to daydream and explain the life that they will soon lead. ‘You got the money?’ Crooks asks in awe. The surprise at their progression is evident.
‘I never seen a guy really do it’. It is clear that he too, is beginning to fall into the excitement of the concept. ‘Why I’d come and lend a hand.’ Crooks’ perspective of the situation is now a complete contrast to his initial scepticism, now completely engrossed and enchanted by the prospect. This shows how a shared dream can seem more achievable, however people are often dubious about making the initial step to achieve this. Brought together through disadvantages, the 3 men develop a mutual dream that seems utterly achievable. Although initially it seemed daunting, the companionship of the colleagues is rewarding. The social pecking order of the ranch is depicted once again in another passage that is also set in the barn. Here, Curley’s wife enters a very unladylike setting and demonstrates her power. ‘Listen Nigger,’ it begins with a derogatory comment being spat at Crooks. Such a word came as a shock, from such a glamorous, feminine character. The harshness seen in Curley’s wife appears to be a coping mechanism, enjoying her fleeting power over the men in her otherwise dull life.
Crooks withdraws himself at this comment, understanding his vulnerability in the situation. ‘Yes, ma’am,’ he replies, further illustrating the harshness of life as a negro. Curley’s wife continues to stand over Crooks waiting to ‘whip at him again’. This description makes a reference to slavery, creating a violent tone in the situation. It also allows the woman to enforce an element on fear in the men, appearing to have complete control over them. She continues to put the men down, with all of them acknowledging the truth in her insults. ‘No, nobody listens to us,’ Candy agrees, he too aware of his place. Completely unaware of the meaning of the situation, Lennie cries, ‘I wish George was here.’ This statement once again demonstrates his utter reliance on George for support and protection. Candy stands up for Lennie, ‘Don’t you worry none,’ he says, revealing a caring, protective side. Soon the conversation turns to Curley’s hand.
‘I’m glad you bust up Curley a little bit. Sometimes I’d like to bust him up myself,’ Curley’s wife admits. Such a statement enforces the belief that the two are not in a loving relationship. She then leaves the barn. Steinbeck writes, ‘While she went through the barn the halter chains rattled and some horses snorted and stamped their feet.’ Creating an uneasy feel in the barn, this description shows a mutual reaction in both both Lennie and the horses, almost as if they shared a connection. This can be seen in many other passages throughout the text also. Both passages in the text present the social status of the ranch and how characters can unite. All four characters come from a difficult background but search for companionship and comfort in one another. This is depicted in their understanding and acceptance of each other throughout the text.