Thursday, January 30, 2020
Consider the theme in Of mice and men Essay Example for Free
Consider the theme in Of mice and men Essay * The book Of Mice and Men was set in the time of the great depression of the 1930s in California in a place called Soledad. Men travelled around looking for any work they could find, they had to leave families and homes just to make money. Even firms and companies went bankrupt, these were depressing and desperate times, no hope and no future. * During this period of time there was a depression in America. Unemployment was high, so men moved from ranch to ranch looking for work, never staying in one place long enough to firm any real relationships, so this was a very lonely existence. * John Steinbecks inspiration from came from him at an earlier age working as a migrant farm worker and so he understood completely about the conditions and life around him so he could really create an atmospheric story. * It is based on two men, George and Lennie, who travelled from ranch to ranch. George is a small and fairly intelligent man while Lennie is a large man of very little intelligence. They had travelled together for a long time. * In my opinion, the most obvious point made throughout the book about the world of migrant workers is that it is lonely. George tells that guys like usare the loneliest guys in the world. They got no family. They dont belong no place. This is also shown when Slim comments that he hardly never seen two guys travel together Most migrant workers travel on their own and this is why George and Lennie face some fairly intrusive questions from their new boss when they first arrive at the ranch. This boss even finds it so unusual that he asks George, referring to Lennie, what stake you got in this guy?. He also again refers to this being unusual by saying I never seen one guy take so much trouble for another guy. * They are many characters in the novel that are also lonely and this is due to sexism, ageism, but mainly racism. One perfect example is CrooksCrooks, the black stable buck is forever being picked on by the other men at the ranch, mostly because of his colour. In the time in which the book was set, black people in America were thought of as lower than white people. At the ranch, Crooks cannot live in the bunk house with all the other men, but he has to sleep in the harness room, at the back of the barn. Crooks is given no privacy, and gets quite cross because he is not allowed to enter the bunk-house but the other men can just walk into his room. In the book he says to Lennie, Youve no right to come into my room, nobody got any right in here but me. * Another reason is because of your age. Candy is lonely because he is old, and is different from the other hands. His only comfort is his old dog, which keeps him company and reminds him of days when he was young and whole.He has no relatives, and once his dog is killed is totally alone. He eagerly clutches at the idea of buying a farm with George and Lennie, but of course this all comes to nothing.Candys disappointment is expressed in the bitter words he utters to the body of Curleys wife, whom he blames for spoiling his dream. Paragraph 1 * George is a kind man. He travels with Lennie and helps him to survive although Lennie is more of a burden than a help, and creates many problems for him. He is also friendly, and almost immediately makes friends with Candy, Carlson, Slim, and the other ranch hands.He has matured a lot since the incident he relates to Slim where he made Lennie jump into a river just for fun. He realises that Lennie depends on him, and needs him to survive.George often insults Lennie and gives him hell, but he doesnt really mean it. Although he often talks about how well off he could be without Lennie he secretly doesnt want Lennie to leave, and when Lennie offers to do so in the first chapter, George virtually pleads with him to stay, Ive got you an youve got me. This is because George also depends on Lennie to a certain extent for his unconditional friendship. George is intelligent, as Slim points out in chapter three, but also modest in denying being smart. He expresses his desire to be different from other ranch hands who merely work for a month and then spend all of their money, but also realistically realises that his dream of owning a house with Lennie (or anyone else) is unlikely to ever come true. Overall, George is an intelligent and kind character. He is thoughtful enough to realise that the best thing for Lennie is to shoot him, for the alternatives are even worse, and compassionate enough to kill Lennie himself. * Lennie is a massive, extremely strong man, who has no living relatives. He travels about the country searching for work with his companion, George. Lennies Aunt Clara had asked George to take care of Lennie if she ever died. The most obvious feature of Lennies character is that he seems retarded. He is a man who has the mind of a child. Slim is one of the first characters to notice this, remarking that Lennie is Jes like a kid and Curleys wife also comments on how he is Jus like a big baby. Lennie doesnt know his own strength, and this is one of the things which lead to his eventual downfall. He realises that he is, strong as a bull, but he cant judge how much force to use for certain actions. That is why he kills his pets, when he only intends to pet them and play with them. It is this inability to judge his strength, combined with his desire to pet things and Curleys wifes desire to be petted and admired which leads to Lennies inevitable death. The ability to judge ones own strength is one of the first signs of maturity, and it is important that Lennie doesnt have this ability. Despite the major flaws in his character he is amiable and friendly , and doesnt do any of the bad things he does on purpose.He has a poor memory, and has to repeat things to himself many times to remember them. Even then, he still forgets them. He has a blind faith in George, trusting in him to protect and look after his welfare. For example, remember the incident George describes to Slim when he told Lennie to jump in the river and Lennie obeyed, without a thought to his own well being. This illustrates Lennies trust in George, and also his immaturity.However, it must be noted that Lennie can still be quite crafty, as when he cunningly persuades George to tell him the story about the rabbits by threatening to leave him. Paragraph 2 * Because of Lennies handicap George has established a personality around his companion to make it easier to live around him. George has found a way of coping with Lennie which is to shout at him. God a mighty, if I was alone I could live so easy. He supports him in the way he needs although when he is angry he does criticize him As dum as a horse. * George thinks of Lennie as a companion as he doesnt have any family. On the other hand he finds him as a pain. Lennie feel the same way to a certain extent but also fears George as he is in control and orders and protects Lennie. They travel together searching for work on ranches and so never settle, and so dont establish true friendships with others, but since they have each other they seem secure, but Lennie gets into a lot of trouble and so needs George so really George doesnt have time for himself, which is why they do almost everything together. * Others see this relationship as different:- Slim comments Aint many guys travel around toghther.Maybe everbody in the whole damn world is scared of each other. George and Lennie are different as Lennie says I got you to look after me, and you got me to look after you * Dreams are significant when considering how these men as one of the ways in which the characters combat the loneliness and hopelessness of their existence. For example the dream farm, a dream shared at first only by George and Lennie, later spreads to include Candy and Crooks, as they are all desperate to escape their lonely lives Crooks reveals that it is the favourite dream of the itinerant ranch hands: Seems like ever guy got land in his head. It is a powerful dream, however, and even Crooks falls for this, for a short time.To Lennie, the dream is a cure for disappointment and loneliness, and he often asks George to recite the description of the farm to him. Paragraph 4 * Crooks is an even lonelier character than Candy, because not only is he old and a cripple, like Candy, but he is also black. Most of the men have a lot of prejudice against Crooks, referring to him with derogatory terms such as nigger. (Prejudice around slavery wasnt rare) * He lives in the shed at the other end of the ranch, isolated from the rest of the workers there. * Crooks is a victim. We are told by Candy that the Boss takes his anger out on Crooks, though Crooks does nothing wrong. * Crooks spends his time alone reading and is a fairly knowledgeable person, as he owns a copy of the California civil code for 1905 He also plays horseshoes until dark. This shows us that Crooks is interested in reading as is most likely one of the smartest of the crowd. This also suggests that he has found reading as an escape route from the terrible world around him. * Crooks reveals that it is the favourite dream of the itinerant ranch hands: * As a result of the discrimination against him, Crooks has become bitter and cynical. This is why when Lennie and Candy tell him about their plan to buy a house he reacts with scorn and disbelief. Seems like ever guy got land in his head. It is a powerful dream, however, and even the cynical Crooks falls under its spell for a short time. Paragraph 5 * Curleys wife is described as having full rouged lips and wide spaced eyes, heavily made up. Her fingernails painted and her hair hung in little rolled clusters. * Most of the ranch hands except for Slim brand Curleys wife as tart. In fact, she is portrayed as such whenever she appears, obviously playing up to and teasing the men. We can definitely say that she is lonely. John Steinbeck illustrates how lonely Curleys wife is when she says I never get to talk to nobody. I get awful lonely She says so several times, and that is to be expected since she is stuck on a ranch with men who dislike her and rarely talk to her, as they fear getting into any sort of trouble with her husband Curley, stay away from her. However, she attempts to overcome her loneliness in the wrong way. George immediately realises that she means trouble when she first turns up in the bunkhouse, and it is hardly surprising that her actions lead her new husband to be fiercely jealous. She is so cruel because of her unhappiness, her isolation and the failure of her dreams. She dreamt of being in the movies or even in a show. She is disappointed and marries Curley to spite her mother only to find out he aint a nice fella. She wishes she could have made something of her life. She walks around the ranch, dressed inappropriately and seductively. and she has only been married a couple of weeks. She admits to Lennie that she doesnt like her husband and regrets marrying him. She seems to be of limited intelligence, as this shows her how desperate she is to escape. It is partly her desire to be petted and admired which leads her to allow Lennie to stroke her hair, which in turn leads to her death at Lennies hands. She is only ever known as Curleys wife which indicates that the author viewed her as a possession of Curleys rather than a human being. I pity her as she made a mistake into leading herself into these problems with Curley and this is making her bored ill. Paragraph 6 * The next afternoon, Lennie is in the barn. All of the other men are outside playing a game of horseshoes, and Lennies only company is his dead puppy. Lennie had accidentally killed it. He fears that George will not let him tend and feed the rabbits if George knows that he killed the puppy. While Lennie wonders what to do, Curleys wife appears. She tries to get Lennie to talk to her, but Lennie is reluctant, since George had threatened to forbid him from tending his rabbits if Lennie ever did so. When she directs Lennies attention to his puppy, though, Lennie forgets about not talking to her. He explains everything to her. Curleys wife listens sympathetically, and she tells Lennie about her aspirations of being an actress, and how she believes her mother deliberately thwarted her plans. She becomes angered by Lennies continual references to rabbits, and asks him what his attraction to them is. Lennie explains that he likes to touch and pet soft things, like rabbit fur. * Curleys wife allows Lennie to stroke her hair, but panics when he wont let go. She begins to struggle and scream, and Lennie, also in a state of panic, shakes her to make her stop saying, I dont want you to yell. You gonna get me in trouble jus like George says you will, and he covered her rouged lipped mouth with his large palms. She continued to scream and struggle and now the fully nervous Lennie shouted angrily at her, Dont you go yellin , and shook her; and her body flopped like a fish he shakes her so violently that her neck broke and she died instantly. Lennie knows that he has done another bad thing and remembers that George told him to go and hide in the brush down by the river, so he quickly runs there. Sometime later, Candy enters the barn and discovers the body of Curleys wife. He runs and fetches George. George realises what has happened, and says that he has to tell the others. Candy protests, rightly pointing out that Curley would deliver no mercy to anyone who had killed his wife. Candy is in favour of letting Lennie escape. He asks George if it is still possible to buy the house, but his dreams are shattered when George says it isnt. When George tells the labourers the news, they all go into a frenzy, and seem affected by blood lust. Curley is furious and vows to kill Lennie. Carlson rushes off to get his gun, and even Whit wants to join in the hunt. Carlson reports that his gun has been stolen, and everyone thinks that Lennie is responsible. George begs Curley to have mercy on his companion, but Curley says he cant because Lennie has a gun. All of the men run off except for Candy, who lies down in despair. * The relationship between George, Lennie and Candy was now destroyed. * This relates to the theme of dreams as they couldnt get their own place and so their dream had crumbled as well. Paragraph 7 * Loneliness affects many of the characters, and Steinbeck seems to show that it is a natural and inevitable result of the kind of life they are forced to lead. The itinerant workers are caught in a trap of loneliness they never stay in one place long enough to form permanent relationships. Even if such relationships existed, they would probably be destroyed by the demands of the itinerant life. Candy is lonely because he is old, and is different from the other hands. His only comfort is his old dog, which keeps him company and reminds him of days when he was young and whole. He has no relatives, and once his dog is killed is totally alone. He eagerly clutches at the idea of buying a farm with George and Lennie, but of course this all comes to nothing. Candys disappointment is expressed in the bitter words he utters to the body of Curleys wife, whom he blames for spoiling his dream. George is also caught in the trap of loneliness. Just as Candy has his dog for company, George has Lennie (who is often described in animal-like terms). Continuing the parallel, George too is left completely alone when Lennie is killed. The dream farm is his idea, and he says Wed belong there no more runnin around the country. Another lonely character is Curleys wife. Newly married and in a strange place, she is forbidden by Curley to talk to anyone but him. To counter this, she constantly approaches the ranch hands on the excuse of looking for Curley. The only result is that the men regard her as a slut, and Curley becomes even more intensely jealous. Finally, her loneliness leads to her death as she makes the serious error of trying to overcome it by playing the tease with Lennie. Curley himself is lonely. His new wife hates him as do all the ranch hands who despise him for his cowardice. He has married in an attempt to overcome his loneliness, but has blindly chosen a wife totally inappropriate for the kind of life he leads. His feelings are all channelled into aggressive behaviour which further isolates his wife and leads to the incident with Lennie where his hand is crushed. Crooks is another who is isolated because he is different. He copes with it by keeping a distance between himself and the other hands. When he does allow himself to be drawn into the dream of working on George and Lennies dream farm, he is immediately shut out by Georges anger. * The conclusion, in my opinion is that people are brought together though loneliness and separated as they grow hostile (Crooks). It is like an endless game which has to be played by someone before someone gets eager and makes it worse by instigating. This is fatewhat will happen will happen. Just like a game .. someone always wins..and someone always loses..!