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Social hierarchy in “Of mice and men” Essay

Social Hierarchy is a system in which classes exist, with certain classes being ‘above’ others. Since the beginning of society men have almost always followed a social hierarchy. John Steinbeck recreates the social structure during the great depression in his novella Of Mice and Men. In the novel all of the characters fall into three classes in proportion to their ability. All of the characters in the novella can be put into a pyramid.

People at the bottom tier of the pyramid are treated differently and discriminated by their gender, race, and disabilities. First, L is one of John Steinbeck’s examples of what he believes is at the bottom of the social pyramid. L is stuck at the bottom because he is mentally challenged. Although L cannot help his disability he has no chance of moving up because of it. Secondly, Crooks, another character in the novella is also stuck at the bottom of the social hierarchical chain because of discrimination. He is discriminated against racially and also because he is handicapped.

C works in the stables and tends to the horses; he also lives alone because he is the only black man who works on the ranch. “S’pose you didn’t have nobody. S’pose you couldn’t go into the bunkhouse and play rummy ’cause you was black. How’d you like that (p.80.) Third, the one of the last people at the bottom of the pyramid is Curly’s wife. She is at the bottom because she is a female. She is not even given a name throughout the novel. Lastly, Candy is the most powerful character at the bottom of the pyramid. Although he has a physical disability he is very respected throughout the ranch because he is the oldest. The people at the bottom of the pyramid are stuck there for things they can not control.

The “middle” tier of the pyramid consists of George, Carlson and Slim. First, George is L’s only friend. G is a very hard worker, and has the chance to move up higher in society but L hampers him. G cares a lot about L, but knows that if L is still around he is not going to move up in society. “I could get along so easy and so nice if I didn’t have you on my tail”(p.24.) The following character is one step above G in the social hierarchy pyramid, and that character is Carlson, he is one step above G bcuz he is not hampered like G.C is always listened too. He took charge and shot Candy’s dog when no one else dared too, which shows how much dominance he has. C also has a descent job compared to the others below him. Lastly, one step above C, lies Slim. Slim is known to be the “prince” of the ranch; he is one of the most impressive workers.

S is the most highly respected worker on the ranch; he is considered to be ageless. The people in the middle of the pyramid are also stuck there because they aren’t as wealthy as the people one step above them**Two characters from the novella are at the top of the pyramid, and that is Curley and the Boss. The characters at the top of the pyramid are positioned here for one main reason.

And that reason is because they have money. First, Curley has a lot of money. Curley is disliked among the workers because the only reason he is superior is because of nepotism, since his dad is the boss he is favored and gets “special treatment.” Curley has a very big head, which doesn’t match his small physical appearance. This causes him to pick up fights just to prove himself on the ranch, Lastly; the boss is at the top because he has money. In many circumstances money makes people powerful. Hence the boss being at the top of the social hierarchy pyramid.

In conclusion, John Steinbeck uses the characters in his novella Of Mice and Men to recreate the social structure during the great depression.


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