The Racial Perception and Racism in Of Mice and Men

Throughout the novella “Of Mice and Guy,” Steinbeck uses the character of criminals to highlight the racial discrimination in 1930s America. During the terrific anxiety Black Americans faced hostility, bigotry and persecution. In Southern states, Jim Crow laws reinforced racial partition and groups such as the Ku Klux Klan were extremely active. Regardless of his own humanism, Steinbeck does not methodically goal to compose either for or against racism but just represents the extreme reality of the time. As a reader we start to see the psychological and emotional impact that this has on Crooks.

During the 1930s for most white Americans, bigotry was normal. Blacks were “inferior” according to the popular bias of the time. The realism of dialogue in “Of Mice and Men” highlights this unfortunate historic context well. Steinbeck mimics the method the cattle ranch hands truly spoke offering us a precise insight into the context of the book. In 186 pages Crooks is referred to as ‘nigger’ 16 times. When Sweet discusses Crooks for the first time in area two, he states “Ya see the stable buck’s a nigger.” Nevertheless, he immediately follows up by stating that scoundrels is a “Nice fella too.” This perfectly displays the normality of racism in the 1930s. Sweet has fantastic respect for Crooks and is not using the word “nigger” as an offensive slur (as it is seen in the 21st century) but just as part of his day to day language. The reader never learns Scoundrels’ genuine name; Crooks is more than likely a label due to the fact that “he’s got a jagged back where a horse kicked him”. He is just ever identified by his colour and his task. The constant recommendation to him as “the stable buck” or “the nigger” whether utilized in a negative way or not perfectly shows the constant dehumanisation of black Americans in the time the novella is set.

In section 4, the style of racial prejudice is checked out in depth, providing the reader an insight into Crooks as a character for the very first time. The scene is set, crooks is alone in his “bunk in the harness space; a little shed that leaned of the barn” The description of scoundrels’ room is of excellent significance. We are told that he has a “scruffy dictionary and a whipped copy of the California civil code for 1905”. This suggests that he wishes to know the couple of rights he has as a black guy. Unlike the other males, he undoubtedly makes an effort to educate himself. His space is segregated from the others however more importantly it belongs to the barn; perhaps a subtle referral to the truth that in spite of the abolition of slavery in 1865 as a black guy he is still dealt with and given the exact same level of respect as an animal. He even shares his medical supplies with animals; in the “apple box over his bunk” there is a “variety of medicines, both for himself and the horses”. Criminals’ is referred to as “a proud aloof male. He kept his range and required that others kept theirs.” For the very first time this shows how has actually been pushed away by everybody else therefore he pushes others away to secure himself. His “discomfort tightened up lips” suggest he is a man who has actually suffered, meaning the difficult life he has actually likely withstood as a black man.

It is a Saturday night and all the men have actually gone into town to invest their profits other than the 3 mentally or physically impaired “castaways” of the farm- Lennie, Sweet and Criminals. When Lennie visits Crooks in his room, in the beginning he is fiercely protective of it. Regardless of Lennie smiling “helplessly in an effort to make friends, Crooks informs him “you got no ideal to come in my space. This room’s my room. No one got any right in here but me” He turns Lennie away. Nevertheless, Lennie does not understand the unwritten code of racial segregation and does not leave. Criminals informs him “You go on get outta my space. I ain’t wanted in the bunk home, and you ain’t desired in my space.” Criminals is obviously resentful due to the fact that of the unjustified treatment he receives as a black man living in 1930s America. His space is his only space, he has so little rights and his regular recommendation to his rights suggests that he is clinging onto the rights that he does have. Crooks is painfully self-aware. Lennie asks Crooks “Why ain’t you wanted?” and Scoundrels replies “Cause I’m black”. The contrast in between Lennie’s naivety and Scoundrel’s bitterness emphasises the significance of this point. Lennie is basic, he looks beyond skin colour. Lennie’s “deactivating smile” beats Crooks and his desire for business eventually wins out. He welcomes Lennie to sit with him. This reaction starts to reveal Crooks’ isolation.

However, just as Steinbeck begins to present Crooks as a susceptible character, shaped by the prejudice of the time he is residing in; a character that we start to feel sympathy towards, we are revealed a vicious side to Crooks as he starts to suggest to Lennie that George might not return from town. Lennie ends up being scared and upset but “Crooks’ face” is referred to as “lighted with pleasure in his torture”. Scoundrels is not utilized to having the “upper hand”. As a black man Crooks is used to being at the really bottom of the hierarchy. He is used feeling weak and susceptible himself. Crooks utilizes the provided the opportunity to feel superior to somebody else. However, as Crooks senses the aura of danger surrounding Lennie, he stops taunting him. He informs Lennie “I didn’t suggest to scare you”. Understanding that” a guy can talk” to Lennie “an’ be sure” he “won’t go blabbing”. Criminals starts to open up, he says “a guy needs somebody– to be near him” which “a person goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody”. Here Steinbeck utilizes emotive verbs describing Crooks as “sobbing” and “whimpering” showing the covert psychological pain that Crooks remains in. In spite of Lennie being psychologically disabled he has George. As a “nigger” living in a bias time it is just inevitable that Crooks will be envious of this companionship. He informs Lennie “I tell ya a man gets too lonely an’ he gets ill”. The negative mental impacts that racial discrimination has on Crooks start to really obviously surface; starting to provide the reader a possible description to the cold-hearted way in which he treated Lennie.

As Crooks is opening up, Sweet appears at the door. Once again, Crooks’ protective barrier increases. In an “irritable” manner Crooks’ welcomes Sweet in. At first Candy is described as seeming “Ashamed” it is apparent that both guys are unpleasant. We learn that this is the first time Candy has remained in Criminals’ space and the social boundary in between them is clear. Nevertheless, it is exposed that although he masks this with a tough exterior Criminals is privately pleased to have more business as Steinbeck informs us “It was hard” for Scoundrels “to conceal his pleasure with anger”. Candy and Lennie go over the “dream farm”. Criminals is shown to be wise and watchful as he listens to them talk, however he does this with excellent cynicism. He interrupts “extremely” saying “you guys is simply joking yourself” and makes the extreme remark that “No one never ever gets to heaven, and nobody gets no land.” Nevertheless, as the 2 other guys talk, Crooks begins to end up being drawn into the dream. This is an indicator that like all the ranch hands, he wants a place where he can have some security and is another huge indicator of his solitude. Eventually he doubles back on himself by saying “why I ‘d come an’ help”. However, this dream is unachievable, there is no security for anyone in a discriminative world, least of all a black stable hand with a misaligned back. Curley’s partner appears and disrupts the males’s fantasizing.

Throughout this area the style of racial discrimination reaches its height. Curley’s better half states “they left all the weak ones here”, which is in truth the fact. She continues and calls the three “a nigger an’ a dum-dum and a poor ol’ sheep”. Crooks, however, having been somewhat pushed by the business of two others recommends to Curley’s partner that possibly she should go to her own house, as they “don’t desire no problem.”. However, he soon violates his line as a black guy by informing Curley’s other half “you got no rights comin in a coloured mans’ room” “get out fast”. Jolted into that era’s reality by Curley’s wife as she says “you understand what I can do to you if you open your trap”. He accepts the reality that he deals with ever-present racial discrimination and simply gazes “hopelessly” and is metaphorically referred to as “growing smaller”. Curley’s partner then makes an extremely real hazard, she “puts him in his place” by saying “nigger. I could get you strung up on a tree so simple it aint even funny”. To this, Crooks does not respond, as this is his reality; it would have been extremely easy for her to get a lynch mob together.

Scoundrels’ situation powerfully shows the extreme racism of the early 1930s. The majority of whites believed that blacks were inferior in every way and blacks simply accepted this prejudice against them as a way of life. After Curley’s partner’s last threat Steinbeck describes Crooks as having actually “reduced himself to nothing.” Using images here is powerful. We are told “There was no personality, no ego- nothing to arouse either like or dislike”. This futility shows how little power Crooks has. As Crooks “gradually comes out of the layers of protection he had actually put on” He dismisses the other males by stating “you guys comin in an settin’ made me forget. What she says holds true.” He informs Sweet to “jus’ forget” about him helping on the “dream cattle ranch”, protecting himself by declaring he was “simply foolin”.

Steinbeck makes us as an audience feel for the character of Crooks through the usage colloquial discussion and nearer the end of the area, strong imagery. Racism feeds into the wider theme of solitude and as section four progresses it becomes clear that the crippling sense of isolation which Crooks’ deals with as a black male has actually undoubtedly fed into him to appearing so bitter and gruff. This is not to state Crooks’ does not have his faults. The reader as a person has to choose whether Crooks deserves compassion. There is no way of knowing how what Crooks’ character would be like if he was not born black. It might be argued that possibly he is simply a severe and cynical person naturally. Criminals’ is intelligent and the way he toys with Lennie’s sensations is cruel. Yet this is likely retribution for his own treatment. Like Curley’s other half, Crooks is a disempowered character who turns his vulnerability into a weapon to attack those who are even weaker. Steinbeck gives us plenty of proof that Crooks has humanity under his rough outside. This does not validate his harsh actions, nevertheless it is tough not to feel for this ostracised male who has actually “retired into the protective self-respect of a negro”. It is obvious that Crooks has actually been considerably impacted by discrimination, resulting in him being miserable and mad at the unjustified society he is living in. He is trapped in a never-ending, vicious cycle; he has actually been lonely for so long that he nearly can’t deal with somebody trying to be nice to him. He regretfully has no hope of ever seeing a better life, both he and the reader are badly familiar with this.

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