In the unique’ Of mice and males’ John Steinbeck utilizes the character Crooks to represent racism throughout America and symbolise the marginalisation of the black neighborhood at the time the book is set. From the beginning Steinbeck masterfully utilizes Crooks as a tool to offer the reader an insight to the reality of the American Dream and what 1930’s America resembled. The reader has to decide whether Crooks deserves sympathy, or is simply a bitter, terrible ‘stable-buck’.
Steinbeck presents Crooks as a victim of bigotry throughout the whole book, To start with Crooks is the only black man on the ranch highlighting that he is an outcast. We initially here of Crooks when Candy describes him as a ‘nigger’, although acceptable at the time the word dehumanises Crooks and shows the disrespect he receives from other members on the cattle ranch. Ostracised by the white members on the ranch, Crooks resents it As he states’ If I say something, why it’s simply a nigger sayin’ it’ this portrays Crooks as someone that has actually relied on self- pity and the concept that he is a lower human than his white equivalents. He states to Lennie ‘I ain’t desired in the bunk home and you ain’t wanted in my room’ he continues stating ‘they say I stink’ which can be translated that the white members on the cattle ranch would find it appalling if a ‘nigger’ would breathe the same air in the bunkhouse as them.
The ambiance of Criminal’s room reflects a lot on his personality. A great deal of the things in his ‘little shed’ were described as ‘broken’, this echoes onto Scoundrel’s personality by the reality he is ‘broken’ in himself and is avoided by the other ranch members. Regardless of the truth Crooks picked up his name due to the fact that of his ‘crooked back’ Steinbeck skillfully connects this into the title of the book. ‘Of mice and man’ compares a male to the very same level to mice. Criminals back injury is because of a horse kicking him in the back, this indicates that Steinbeck is trying to express that even an animal deserves more than him.
Criminals brings into viewpoint the solitude experienced by all the characters in “Of Mice and Men” by stating (p. 77) “Sure, you could play horseshoes till it got dark, however then you got to read books. Books ain’t no great. A guy requires somebody– to be near him. A guys goes nuts if he ain’t got no one. Do not make no difference who the person is, long’s he’s with you. I tell ya, a guy gets too lonesome, an’ he gets sick.” He is informing of the requirement for human interaction, the need for company and the need for somebody to care and provide security. The injustice Crooks experiences in residing in a barn and not in the bunkhouse where he might play rummy as one of the group leads him to this desperate plea to be understood as equivalent. Just because when he cuts himself, the blood he bleeds is considered as various from a white perspective, this does not mean he is not entitled to take advantage of human nature. John Steinbeck is depicting here the sensations of Americans of his day and age: their aloneness and their redemption– in the American Dream.
It becomes apparent that the treatment of Crooks has actually made him cynical. Whenever the American Dream (i.e. the hope of all ranchers that a person day they will have self-reliance, land for themselves and be answerable to no-one) is mentioned he dismisses it. He says scornfully (p. 78) “I seen numerous guys visited on the road an’ on the ranches with their bindles on their backs an’ that exact same damn thing in their heads. Hundreds of them. They come, an’ they quit an’ go on… An’ never ever a god-damn among ’em gets it.” This stark realism provides us an impression that Crooks has absolutely no hope. Nevertheless (p. 77) “I remember when I was a little kid … had a strawberry patch. Had an alfalfa spot … Utilized to turn the chickens out on the alfalfa on a bright morning” reinforces the concept that everyone has a dream, a goal and a fantasy. Scoundrels may be pessimistic, yet even he, the marginalised, afraid, gruff, resentful, alone “nigger”, has a dream, the hope of one day experiencing the happiness of his youth again.
Should we analyze Crooks as a cynical, evil, unimportant individual? After all, he’s only an “nigger”. Yet one can fell sympathy for this ostracised male who, under his rough outside, has mankind and all its qualities. Scoundrels gives us the most vibrant picture of life at the time of the novel: its hopes, fears and oppressions. And does Crooks also connect to life today? Are we any happier at having houses, self-reliance, liberty of speech? Do you have to be black to experience oppression?