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The Wall Street Crash of 1929 devastated America. After years of people revelling in their riches and living the high life of the roaring twenties, the wealth of millions was seized. America’s luck continued to diminish as they entered deeper and deeper into the depression when a seven year drought shook the country two years following the crash. Driven by the Great Depression, drought, and dust storms people packed away their belongings to find work in California in hope of work.
A new generation of itinerant workers were born; destitute nobodies who belonged nowhere with only the conceptual of the American dream. John Steinbeck demonstrates this accurately in the novella Of Mice and Men depicting the realistic themes of companionship, isolation, fate and the prevalence of the American Dream… On the exterior, Crooks could be the most disadvantaged character in Of Mice and Men particularly due to the fact that he was born in an era of the Ku Klux Klan and where there was intensifying prejudice among black people. In addition to this bigotry towards non-whites, Crooks is paralysed.
‘Crooks’ begets the most repellent yet lifelike image of what life was like in the depression: its confidences, trepidations, and inequalities. Curley’s wife reinforces this with a certain dispute she had with Crooks: “Listen, Nigger, you know what I can do to you if you open your trap? …Well, you keep your place then, Nigger. I could get you strung up on a tree so easy it ain’t even funny. ” Curley’s wife is irate with her own solitude and as a consequence exerts her antagonism by ridiculing Crooks and acting malevolently towards him. Crook’s acknowledges and believes what labels him as; a ‘nigger.
’ John Steinbeck possibly created Crooks to symbolise the ostracism of the black community and he utilises him to give the reader an insight into the reality of the American Dream and the emotions that the ranch workers experience; their desire for a companion, their isolation and craving for communication with another human being. When we read about Crooks, we are torn between empathising for him and perceiving him as a merciless and malicious stable-buck. Furthermore, Crooks expresses that “If I say something, why it’s just a nigger sayin’ it.
” This demonstrates his incense for his expulsion from society. His dismissal from the others at the ranch has made him insensitive to the degree of being callous and contemptuous. If the subject of the American Dream is ever discussed he instantaneously disdains the idea. For instance, when George and Candy converse about having their own land and independence, he says: “I seen hundreds of men come by on the road an’ on the ranches with their bindles on their backs an’ that same damn thing in their heads. Hundreds of them. They come, an’ they quit an’ go on……
An’ never a god-damn one of ’em gets it. ” Crooks had no anticipation or confidence in life. On the other hand, Crooks also says “”I remember when I was a little kid…. had a strawberry patch. Had an alfalfa patch…. ” This reinforces the idea that even the exceptionally derisive have a dream. Crooks desires just a glimmer of his childhood again and hopes that one day he will. Crooks declares to Lennie “You got no right to come in my room….. You go on get outa my room. I ain’t wanted in the bunkhouse and you ain’t wanted in my room.
” He continues by saying that the whites believe he stinks and one can interpret this as a way of saying that the whites would find it a disgrace that a nigger should breathe the same bunkhouse air as them. “S’pose you couldn’t go into the bunkhouse and play rummy ’cause you was black… Sure, you could play horseshoes ’til dark, but then you have to read books. ” shows that Crooks commiserates his own situation and helplessness. However when Crooks observes how Lennie is intimidated by him he tells him “I didn’t mean to scare you. ” This begets the impression that he is amiable at heart.
Crooks introduces the perspective of the lonesomeness endured by the majority of the characters in “Of Mice and Men” as he states “Sure, you could play horseshoes till it got dark, but then you got to read books. Books ain’t no good. A guy needs someone – to be near him. A guys goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody. Don’t make no difference who the guy is, long’s he’s with you. I tell ya, a guy gets too lonely, an’ he gets sick. ” He is telling of the need for human interaction, the need for company and the need for someone to care and provide security.
The oppression Crooks experiences in living in a barn and not in the bunkhouse where he could play rummy as one of the group leads him to this desperate plea to be realised as equal. Just because when he cuts himself, the blood he bleeds is looked upon as different from a white perspective, this does not mean he is not entitled to benefit from human nature. John Steinbeck is illustrating the emotional state of Americans in the life of John Steinbeck: their solitude and their salvation of the non-existent American Dream.