Friendship in Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men”

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Steinbeck’s novella presents many points of friendships and division between his characters, such as the companionship between George and Lennie, and that of the unfair inequality given to that of Curley’s Wife and Crooks. During the 1930s, women and people of colour were often treated with contempt as they were seen as lesser beings, and therefore their actions, thoughts and whole lives were seen as inferior to white men. I believe that the novella ‘Of Mice and Men’ is more about friendship, and companionship that the characters want or have, and that the prejudice held against certain characters isolates them and does not allow them to create the bonds between others like the rest are able to.

Divisions caused by prejudice are exhibited a lot throughout the novella, the main cases being aimed and Crooks and Curley’s Wife. In the case of Crooks, he is typically referred to as a “nigger”, a derogatory term given to people of colour. The prejudice set against him for the colour of his skin is often is demonstrated by many characters, Curely’s Wife, for example, hurls racial slurs at him ; such as “Listen, Nigger” and “you keep your place then, Nigger.”, she refers to him not by his name, but by a racist remark to hurt him.

Crooks is isolated from many of the characters due to his race, making him incredibly lonely. He admits that he is not allowed to be around anyone else because he is black, highlighting the racial inequalities of the time frame that it was set and published. The isolation that is forced upon Crooks leads him to torment Lennie, as a way of making himself seem better by picking on someone more vulnerable, like many of the other people of the ranch have been doing to him. He projects his weakness on to Lennie by commenting passively “S’pose George don’t come back no more”, and “S’pose he took a powder and just ain’t coming back”, he projects his insecurities of being left alone, like he normally is, to someone who is more susceptible than he is.

These statements are also spoken in a “soft” as if he was not trying to intentionally harm Lennie, but was just trying to protect himself from being harmed by people further. This creates sympathy as it shows that Crooks is not a bad person, but the effects of hatred and loneliness set against him force him to become slightly malevolent to protect himself, and to make him feel better about himself by making someone else feel what he feels. The effect on an audience in those days may have been fairly different to how a modern day reader would have viewed this character as modern day audiences would be more sympathetic towards Crooks because we understand, as a collective, that racism, and prejudices towards people of colour is wrong, and that Crooks should have never been put through the treatment that he was at the ranch.

Whereas an audience from those days view on Crooks may be a little different, acceptance for racism was still at large in the 1930s and people of colour only got their rights as equal to that of a white person about twenty to thirty years later, meaning that they may have many opinions that match that of Curley’s Wife, but they may not, and may have views similar or the same as a modern day audience.

This portrayal of Crooks may show that Steinbeck disagrees with the way that people treated black people and that he supported equality for all. Curley’s Wife is a character that, although suffers different prejudices against her, is very similar to Crooks. Curley’s Wife remains nameless throughout the novella, she is not given one to show how little she is valued and that she is basically an object. She has no identity and

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Friendship in Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men”. (2020, Sep 09). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/friendship-in-steinbecks-of-mice-and-men/



How did Steinbeck use the theme of friendship in the novel?
Steinbeck used the theme of friendship in the novel to illustrate the importance of human connection and the power of loyalty. He portrayed characters who relied on each other for emotional support and survival, emphasizing the bonds that can develop between people in times of hardship.
How does Steinbeck show friendship in Of Mice and Men?
In Of Mice and Men, Steinbeck shows friendship through the relationship between George and Lennie. The two men are always together, looking out for each other and helping each other out.
What is Of Mice and Men saying about friendship?
Of Mice and Men is saying that friendship is a very important thing. Without it, life would be much harder.
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