Essay, Research Paper
Everywhere you look there is prejudice, you may be the wrong colour, worship the wrong God or wear the wrong thing. No-one fits into our idealistic world perfectly. This prejudice has been around for thousands of years because it is just human nature not to accept people for who they are.
In Of Mice And Men there are several different levels of prejudice shown, all contributing to the failure of the American dream. The main types of prejudice shown in this novel are racial, sexual and social prejudice.
This essay is firstly going to look at racial prejudice. There is much racial prejudice shown in Of Mice And Men towards Crooks the black crippled stable buck. Crooks is more permanent than the other ranch hands and has his own room off the stables with many more possessions than them. This room is made out to be a privilege and also because it means he is nearer to the horses but in fact it is really because the other ranch hands do not want him in the bunk house with them. As a result of this prejudice Crooks has become bitter and very lonely.
When Lennie comes to pet the puppies, not even realising that Crooks? room is ?out of bounds?, Crooks instantly becomes defensive and uncivil “I ain?t wanted in the bunk room and you ain?t wanted in my room” but Lennie in his childish innocence is completely without prejudice ” Why aint you wanted” he asks. Crooks retaliates to this with: “Cause I?m black, they play cards in there but I can?t play because I?m black. They say I stink. Well I tell you, all of you stink to me” This line showing that Crooks desperately wants to join in, be accepted, but because of his colour he can?t and so he feels the only way he can make himself feel better is to cut himself off further, it is a vicious circle.
When Crooks realises that Lennie means no harm he invites him to ” Come on in and set a while” Lennie begins to talk about George and his dream, it makes Crooks reminisce to his childhood which he looks on as a kind of paradise. “The white kids come to play at our place, an? sometimes I went to play with them and some of them were pretty nice. My ol? man didn?t like that. I never knew till long later why he didn?t like that. But I know now”. Crooks? didn?t experience racism directly in his childhood, making his current situation even worse.
Crooks is fascinated by the strength of the friendship of Lennie and George, especially how close they are. Crooks said, “Well, s’pose, jus’ s’pose he don’t come back. What’ll you do then?” Crooks asks these questions because he does not have any friends, and wouldn?t know how losing them unexpectedly would feel. He was curious and envious, about the friendship of Lennie and George, noticing that Lennie is retarded, he takes advantage of this situation to “torture” him mentally, to make him feel better and ease the pain of having other reject him “Crooks? face lighted with pleasure at his torture” he also does this to ease his jealousy towards the friendship Lennie has, but that he, Crooks, will probably never have. He wants the people to feel the way that he does, completely alone.
Crooks goes on to talk about his loneliness ” ?A guy needs somebody-to be near him? He whined:? A guy goes nuts if he ain?t got nobody. Don?t make no difference who the guy is, long?s he?s with you? he cried ?I tell ya a guy gets too lonely an? he gets sick?” Crooks is looking for sympathy, he is so incredibly lonely even to the point to saying that loneliness can make you ill.
George continues to talk about his dream. Crooks, having been on the ranch for quite a while, has witnessed a lot of people with the same dream, he ridicules it “Nobody ever gets to heaven, and nobody never gets no land” but when Candy comes in and backs up what George has been saying he begins to believe in the dream “If you?guys want a hand to work for nothing-just his keep, why I?d come and lend a hand” Crooks sees the dream as his escape from what he is living in, somewhere like his childhood where his colour wouldn?t be an issue.
There are different levels of racial prejudice exhibited throughout the book. Most of the ranch hands don?t like or socialise with Crooks but would not go out of their way to insult him. Curley?s wife on the other hand is rude without excuse. ” ?Listen, Nigger? , she said. ?You know what I can do to you if you open you trap?” She abuses her position and has no respect for him at all, she doesn?t even refer to him by his name, looking down on him with utter contempt and disdain. It is attitudes like hers that have turned him into the bitter man he has become “Crooks had reduced himself to nothing. There was no personality, no ego-nothing to arouse either like or dislike”
This essay is going to next look at sexual prejudice. Curley?s wife is shown a lot of sexual prejudice over the course of the novel. Living on a ranch where the large majority of the inhabitants are male she is very lonely. George says “Ranch with a bunch of guys on it ain?t no place for a girl”
Perhaps to signify the fact she is insignificant, she is always referred to as ?Curley?s wife?, never given a name. She experiences sexual prejudice in that none of the ranch hands will talk to her. This is partly because she can make up things about those she dislikes who will subsequently get ?the can? and also because she is a ?looloo? with a very flirtatious nature. “She got the eye goin? all the time on everybody. I bet she even gives the stable buck they eye. I don?t know what the hell she wants” says Whit. The ranch hands don?t trust her or understand her. George says “Ranch with a bunch of guys on it ain?t no place for a girl, specially like her”
An old lover told her that she “coulda went with the shows, not jus one neither” He promised her that he would write “Soon?s he got back to Hollywood” but he never did and so she married Curley. Because of this she?s dissatisfied and feels she?s been deprived by life. In fact she doesn?t even like Curley “He ain?t a nice fella”. Because she has nothing to do but sit at home she goes out on the ranch under the pretence of looking for Curley. Some of the sexual prejudice she experiences is her fault, she scares the ranch hands with her femininity but she isn?t really a tart, she just craves attention which she doesn?t get from Curley. Ignored by both the ranch hands and Curley she has ended up very lonely, the one thing she most wanted to escape.
This essay is next going to look at social prejudice. Most of the characters experience social prejudice at different levels throughout the course of the book.
Candy, the old swamper is prejudiced against because of his age and his disability. Because of his hand he is unable to do a lot of the jobs that the other ranch hands do making him instantly an outsider. Also because he thinks that he is old he puts himself in a state of mind which handicaps him far more than his missing hand ever will. His life echoes that of his dog, he was once “the best damn sheep-dog I ever seen” but now is next to useless, Candy?s life has gone somewhat the same way.
Curley experiences social prejudice because he is the bosses son. The other workers are scared of him because of the position of power he holds over them. Because they can?t accept him he has become horrible “This guy Curley sounds like a son-of-a-bitch to me, I don?t like mean little guys”. Curley is also very short, and therefore hates big men like Lennie. He is a very insecure man but hides these insecurities by acting as if he isn?t scared by anything or anyone. He has cut himself off from people as much as they have cut themselves off from him.
Lennie is a victim of social prejudice in the fact that, being retarded, he can?t socially interact with the natural ease of George. He is left behind when the ranch hands go into town and he is left out of card games purely because he can?t play. Because he like others experiences prejudice, and also because he is very easy to talk to in that they know he “won?t go blabbing?”, Crooks and Curley?s wife feel they can talk to him.
George and Lennie experience social prejudice in a sense that people can?t accept the unusual relationship they have with each other.
The novel is a microcosm, a cross-section of society at the time reflecting the kind of prejudice around at the time. At the time of the novel blacks in America had no rights, they were seen as nobodies. Because of this prejudice many of them, like Crooks “retired into the terrible protective dignity of the negro”. Women also had very few rights. There are many different levels of prejudice exhibited in Of Mice And Men. Through these prejudices the characters such as Crooks and Curley?s wife have become intensely lonely but they are in hopeless position which they can do nothing about. These prejudices can still be seen in the world today.