Answer: Crooks is so mean to Lennie because although he and Lennie are quite similar (they are both categorised as the ‘weak ones’) Lennie has the better life, simply because he is white. Lennie is allowed in the dorm room and allowed to play cards should he choose to (if he even knew how to) whereas Crooks cannot. Throughout the conversation, we see Crooks’ character come out of his shell, and be nice to people whom he normally wouldn’t conversate with except Slim and the boss.
Obviously, because he’s black and because of segregation, he is mean to those who disregard him because of his colour, but maybe there is another reason he is mean to Lennie, such as he is jealous of his lifestyle or he wishes he were white. Also, he is pretty low on the societal totem pole and Lennie is an easy target for him. Crooks’ first reaction when Lennie visits him is that he wants to prove a point: if he as a black man can’t enter white men’s houses, then whites aren’t allowed in his room.
He wants Lennie to know that he has to have some sorts of rights. But Lennie’s inviting smile and Crooks’ desire for company means that Lennie can enter, and thus starts the convo where we learn all about Crooks. Like Curley’s wife, Crooks is a powerless character, and it seems that he seeks vulnerable characters to make himself feel good – He starts “suggesting” that maybe George will never come back and only stops the cruel game when Lennie threatens him with physical violence.
He shows us that his loneliness means he often has no-one to talk to and his character would like sympathy. He is also interested once Candy and Lennie start conversating and forgets all about his mean self. He has seen men of all sorts come on and off the ranch and no-one has actually fulfilled the American Dream which he is doubtful of because it seems this “Dream” does not apply to him due to the colour of his skin. This is why he scrutinizes others. Question 2) Are there any similarities between Lennie and Crooks?
Answer: Lennie and Crooks are both marginalised from society – Lennie’s lack of mental abilities keep him isolated and Crooks’ skin colour keep him isolated. For this, they are classed as ‘the weak ones’. When Lennie comes by, Crooks is immediately unfriendly. “You go one get outta my room. I ain’t wanted in the bunk house; you ain’t wanted in my room. ” However, both men long for company, and so begin talking. Their similarities wipe out any awkward silences and end their isolation. Crooks understands that Lennie has the better life and uses this against him to compare himself.
“I tell ya, I tell ya a guy gets lonely an’ he gets sick. ” Both men can be seen as lonely, not only are they marginalised, and even though Lennie has George, his mental challenges keep him alone because no-one can completely understand him which emphasises his differences and Crooks’ colour leaves him excluded from the dorms. Question 3) What does this conversation tell us about the relationship of Crooks with other men? Answer: Crooks’ relationships are built around the fact that he is a victim of racism and is outcasted from companionship.
We know from the start that Crooks takes a liking to Skinner and the boss, and since we don’t get to know him until Chapter 4, this outlines his lack of status, credibility and power. We as readers are able to emphasise with Crooks because we are shown how black people were treated in the time of the Great Depression. We see how Crooks is able to open up to Lennie and he confesses all his feelings and thoughts because he sees him as a figure of trust as he is unable to remember what he is told. His relationship with Slim is tight because we admire Slim as a good, supporting member of society.
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