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In the novella Of Mice and Men, Steinbeck focuses on key social problems in the 1930s depression through the migrant workers The writer uses the characterization of Curley’s wife and Crooks to represent the sexism between men and women as well as racism between white people and colored people.

Steinbeck uses Crooks to embody racism in the 1930s. A whole chapter is dedicated to Crooks, in chapter 4, to emphasize the fact that black men were always isolated and discriminated against. The writer imparts this to the reader by shaping Crooks as a pointless character as he had a crooked back, “rubbing his back’’ which highlights his fragility. This reinforces the 1930s when black men were weak and mentally powerless as well as being physically uncared for. Steinback includes a description of Crooks’s bunk at the beginning of the chapter where he shows the standards of living Crooks. The writer does this by putting Crooks and the horses on the same status by describing Crooks’s bunk being a ‘’harness room’’ and shack which is the same as where the horses live this suggests that Crooks is nothing to the men and doesn’t need to be treated properly. Crooks was treated that way because he wasn’t high on the hierarchy and was constantly discriminated against due to him being black therefore his status is just like the animals; if not lower. The writer also includes the description ‘’long box filled with straw’’ as Crooks’s bed, whereas the other white ranch worker’s beds are described as ‘’ made up with blankets’’ which represents the act of prejudice between the workers based on their race. By Crooks being treated this way, it makes the reader feel sympathetic towards him because he hasn’t done anything wrong to the men and the only reason to him being treated differently on the ranch is because of his race and color.

The writer shapes Crooks’ chapter as a cycle suggesting that his life is like a routine and wouldn’t change just like the lives of black men in the 1930s. He does this by beginning the chapter with Crooks being alone in his bunk and rubbing his back and ends the chapter in the same way. However, in between, Steinbeck includes Crooks and Lennie having a conversation about being locked up if George wasn’t there to take care of him because in that period it was all about survival of the fittest and taking care of yourself and yourself only so Crooks is telling him that he would’ve been in a ‘’booby hatch’’ if it wasn’t for George. This symbolizes a glimpse of hope for Crooks by having the conversation but still being in his unbreakable cycle of endless hope. During Crook’s conversation with Lennie, the writer makes Crooks sound innocent and unworthy of listening to. He shows this by constantly making Crooks say “This is just a nigger talking” which suggests that Crooks feels as if his opinion is irrelevant and doesn’t need to be heard or acknowledged. What does this say about black men in the 1930s As well as that Steinback seems to be normalizing the word “nigger” and making it seem normal to call black men “niggers” in the 1930s.

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Curley’s Wife is introduced in the novella without a name and just by the label of Curley’s Wife. The writer doesn’t give her a name to exhibit the discrimination of women and how they were seen as not having a purpose as well as serving as an objects. This is transmitted to the reader by the men talking about her and saying ‘’Ranch with a bunch of guys ain’t no place for a girl, especially like her’’. This expresses a lack of respect towards her. The writer also mentions that before marrying Curley, She wanted to be an actress ‘’. Soon’s he got back to Hollywood he was gonna write to me about it…I never got that letter.’ This suggests how the man used Curley’s wife and lied to her about becoming famous and raised her hopes to flirt with her which links back to the 1930s when men used women as objects either to flirt with or to show off just as Curley did to his wife.

Furthermore, sexism and inequality were another main social issue in the 1930s. Steinbeck portrayed this through the character of Curley’s wife and how she was treated on the ranch. We first hear about her through Candy when he calls her ‘jailbait’- warning the men to stay away from her because she is in trouble. The men also say that she ‘’got the eye’’. Sexism is portrayed here due to the men assuming that she got the ‘’eye’’ for every man on the ranch because she was the only woman there. She is introduced to us as being flirtatious ‘’ heavily made up. ‘I’m lookin’ for Curley,’ she said. her voice had a nasal, brittle quality’’ This implies how she is always teasing the men by being flirtatious with them to try and have a conversation with someone as she is the only woman on the ranch and can’t express her emotions to a female who might have the same issues as her, so instead she unfolds her emotions by flirting. The only reason she does that is that she doesn’t have anyone to talk to other than her husband, who has only married her for the label of ‘’ my wife’’, so she is constantly going to the men to say ‘’I’m lookin’ for Curley’’ which really emphasizes on her loneliness which was also a main social issue in “The Great Depression.’’ .Curley’s wife wasn’t the only women causing trouble, there was also a woman in weed who Lennie tugged her dress and she reported to the police saying he “raped” her which emphasizes on how women, in general, were portrayed as danger in the 1930s America. Steinback chose to only include one female role in the novella to portray how female roles were very limited and minor in the 1930s.

Steinback structures the novella in order of hierarchy. He does this by introducing Crooks and Curley’s wife after all the characters were introduced, placing them at the bottom of the hierarchy making them the least significant members of society. Crooks and Curley’s wife are represented as being at the bottom of the hierarchy by the writer by making their voice seem unimportant “I’m just a nigger doesn’t matter what I say’’ which shows how Crooks knows that his opinion doesn’t matter. However, Curley’s wife is described as being at the bottom of the hierarchy by the writer isolating her and making her the only female role introduced in the novella.

Throughout the novella, Of Mice and Men, many different social issues are presented through characterization which shows how life in the 1930s wasn’t easy at all it was quite challenging to overcome social issues and problems such as racism and inequality in the time of the great depression.

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