Of Mice and Men – Injustice Essay
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Cases of injustice have always been present in human society. Whether it be discrimination against certain types of people, or just personal matters involving family and friends, you will always find a type of injustice being conducted somewhere in the world. There are many cases of injustice present in the novel “Of Mice and Men”. Most of which were just on a casual scale, because at their time they were thought to be the right way to treat people.
First off the bat is Lennie. Being one the main characters in the book, he also suffers from one of the heaviest examples of injustice present. Lennie is big, strong, and mentally retarded. He does not realize his own physical strength, and therefore he constantly becomes a victim of it throughout the book. He really has no idea of what is going on around him, and sticks to very simple thoughts, copying other people’s reactions and manner of behavior when he can. When he starts being picked on by Curley, he doesn’t know what to do. Curley picks on Lennie because he is big and Curley isn’t, therefore Curley is jealous of his size and constantly shoots him down. Curley really doesn’t understand the way Lennie is and how he doesn’t know how fight back against Curley. Even if Curley did know what was wrong with Lennie, he wouldn’t have cared. He still would have used Lennie as a tool for taking his anger out on. Another case of injustice against Lennie is when he is hunted down for the murder of Curley’s wife.
Although Lennie was the one who killed her, Curley and the others don’t realize that he never meaned to hurt her. Slim and George is the only ones who know what has really happened here, and they really have no power over an enraged Curley. George can’t take the fact that Curley is going to shoot Lennie, to trap like a scared animal then take pleasure in kill him. So George shoots Lennie himself, while Lennie is happy. Even if Curley didn’t shoot Lennie, he would have been locked up in a mental institution for the rest of his life, and that, would be worse than death in those times. Lennie struggled against extreme cruelty, and it’s a pity he never got proper justice. Just like George quotes, “Lennie never done it in meanness, all the time he done bad things, but never of ’em mean”.
Next in line is Crooks. Like any black man at the time, Crooks always had injustice displayed against him. He was never allowed to play any games after dark, and usually he wasn’t allowed to play games during the day. He wasn’t allowed to sleep in the same bunkhouse as the other ranch hands, and had to sleep in a little shack that was separate from them. All the other ranch hands, save Slim, also treated him very badly. He was black, and that’s why he was discriminated against. Just because of his color. He was hardly even allowed to talk to anyone, and there was a recounted incident in the book, which shows how black people were used as entertainment back then. Smitty, an old ranch hand who had left, picked a fight with Crooks because he was black and was disabled with an improper spine. The other ranch hands saw this as entertainment, so they brought Crooks in to fight Smitty because it was fun seeing a black guy go up against a white guy who was supported by about 5 other white guys. As a result of all this discrimination, Slim rarely lets anyone into his cabin, as he quotes, “Only ones allowed in here are Slim ‘an the boss”.
Curley’s wife is another example of discrimination that is not unlike Crooks’. In the 1930’s, women were seen as housekeepers while men were seen as the breadwinners. Therefore women were not expected to work or socialize with men, if they did, then they were seen as tramps. Curley’s wife has no other women on the ranch to talk to, so she needs to communicate with the men to keep her company. Curley is always bragging about her and using her, while she is wondering around the ranch all day, feeling lonely and being abused by the groups of men who call her names like skank, etc. Women were expected to socialize with other women back then, and they were not given much chance to voice their opinions or even be accepted on an equal base as the men. Like Curley’s wife quotes in a deep conversation she is having with Lennie, “I get lonely, you can talk to people, but I cant talk to nobody but Curley. Else he gets mad. How’d you like not to talk to anybody?”
Candy is the final case of injustice shown in the book. He knows, that like his old dog before him, he will be kicked off the ranch. He is old and disabled, so the boss will not keep him for much longer due to him not being of much help. Candy situation reflects on that of his poor old dog. The dog is old and disabled, and it is cruel to keep it alive. It doesn’t do anything, except take up room. Just like Candy, he takes up room, and doesn’t do much help to anybody. The boss doesn’t care whether Candy has a future or not, its not his problem. So Candy’s time at the ranch cannot last much longer, and soon the rule of “survival of the fittest” will come into play, and unfortunately for Candy; it is the beginning of the end for him once he leaves.
In all the instances above, injustice was carried out. Lennie, Crooks, Curley’s wife and Candy all suffered different examples of how humans will live their lives to best suit themselves, no matter how much pain it puts the people around them through.