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The Significance Of Sexism And Racism In Novels

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Why are sexism and racism significant ideas in the novella and how is it significant? Authors utilize ideas like sexism and racism to provide the readers with a better understanding of what was happening to innocent people during the Great Depression. Sexism is a term used to refer to conditions, behaviors, or attitudes that foster stereotypes of social roles based on gender. Racism is a term used to refer to discrimination directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one race is superior. The word innocent is referring to someone who is not guilty of a crime or offense. In the novella, Of Mice and Men, written by John Steinbeck, the author promotes these fundamental ideas to explain how and why two innocent characters suffered throughout the novella. The two characters, Curley’s Wife and Crooks both suffer from isolation. The characters are innocent as they have never committed a crime or hurt anybody. The author acknowledges the innocent people that suffered during The Great Depression and hopes that the readers will acknowledge them as well after reading the novella.

In the Novella, Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck wants to portray that sexism and racism was a huge part of the Great Depression since it caused suffrage to those who had opposite genders and different skin colors, and John Steinbeck wants to encourage readers to have greater acceptance towards people’s race and gender. Throughout the novella, sexism is portrayed through Curley’s wife to inform the readers that sexism caused suffrage to women during the Great Depression and it is portrayed to acknowledge the readers to accept people’s gender today. Curley’s wife lives on the ranch with all the other workmen and her husband who is the son of the boss. Curley’s wife is lonely as she has no one to socialize with or to communicate with while Curley is busy working on the ranch. Throughout the novella, Curley’s wife is always in the search for Curley because he is the only person she feels comfortable being with since all the workmen at the ranch dislike her. Loneliness and isolation consume Curley’s wife when the men on the farm ignore and do not accept her because of her gender.

The men that work at the ranch believe that women are not hard workers and that they are not strong and valuable enough to be at ranches. “‘Ranch with a bunch of guys on it ain’t no place for a girl, especially like her’”(51). George says this because he highly disapproves of the idea of having a woman at a ranch with a significant amount of men that work all day. George believes that it is distracting to all the men, especially Lennie, and that Curley’s wife will cause Lennie trouble. Since she is the daughter-in-law of the boss, she could easily get Lennie into trouble if she finds out about Lennie’s mental disability; therefore, George is against the fact that Curley’s wife lives at the ranch. Curley’s wife feels alone without Curley, so she tries to get involved in conversations with the men at the ranch to pass the time. This worries George because Lennie could do or say something to her that he is not supposed to. At the end of the novella, Curley’s wife finds Lennie in the barn with a dead puppy an immediately assumes that Lennie killed it. Lennie remembered everything that George told him about Curley’s wife at the beginning of the novella and that he is not supposed to be around her, so he panics and breaks her neck which leads to her death.

Ultimately, sexism causes Curley’s wife’s death since all the workmen disliked her and made Lennie believe that she was going to cause him trouble. Throughout the novella, racism is portrayed through Crooks to exemplify the life of the people who had a different race other than white during The Great Depression and to encourage the readers to accept all differences. Crooks works at the ranch every day just like all the other workmen do. Although he is different from all the other workmen as he has different skin color, he is forced to live in a different bunkhouse than the others because of his crippled back. Crooks is very innocent since he has never committed a crime or done harm to anyone, he merely suffers from isolation since he is physically separate from all of his colleagues. He is secluded from all of the others, so he feels insecure and lonely. Crooks is continually being talked about behind his back, similarly to Curley’s wife, and he is made fun of because of his race. He is always trying to stand up for himself, but he is always let down when the others remind him of how worthless and insignificant he is because of his race. The boss is always treating Crooks in a demeaning manner.

When Lennie and Crooks are in Crooks’s little bunkhouse, and they talk about their future, Crooks has hope that George will accept him for who he is and that he will allow him to live with them at the farm they plan on buying. When Curley’s’ wife comes in and reminds Crooks that he is unwanted because of his skin color, the little amount of hope that Crooks had, vanishes. Crooks knows that he is different, and he accepts it, but he still feels isolated, and he always will be. “‘They play cards in there, but I cannot play because I’m black’”(68). Crooks says this to Lennie when they are having a conversation because he has hope that Lennie will accept him. Crooks knows that he is different and that because of that he cannot play cards, so he is jealous. He knows that he is different, but he cannot do anything about it because he cannot change his skin color. Steinbeck wants to portray that men who had different skin colors were excluded during The Great Depression and they felt jealous about the attention that they did not receive. The author wants to acknowledge that the men who had a different race other than white suffered from isolation and depression. They tried to stand up for themselves, but they would always be put down no matter what.

Overall, racism is portrayed in the novella to show how hard life was for the men who had a different colored skin during The Great Depression and it is portrayed to encourage readers to accept those innocent people. John Steinbeck informs the readers that both Curley’s wife and Crooks suffered from isolation by using the key ideas sexism and racism because he wants to encourage readers to accept all differences. The author utilizes sexism by making Curley’s wife feel excluded and isolated from the workmen so that readers get an understanding of what life was like during The Great Depression. The workmen are racist towards Crooks because of his skin color; therefore, he is physically and mentally isolated since he lives in a different room than the other workmen even though he has the same skills and talent as them. The people that work at the ranch dislike Curley’s wife and Crooks because one of them has a different gender and the other has a different skin color. Both of these two innocent characters are unique, and they should not be suffering. Racism and sexism were widespread during The Great Depression, so authors write about it to encourage readers to accept all.

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