How is the theme of insecurity developed in the novel ‘Of Mice and Men’ through the use of characters, language and setting?
‘Of Mice and Men’ was written in 1930’s America during the Great Depression. The story begins with Lennie and George fleeing there previous work place, the ending is tragic. During the novel we learn about the friendship that Lennie and George share, along with the dreams and ambitions of the other characters. The story is told in third person, this provides us with a clear unbiased view of all the characters.
‘Of Mice and Men’ was set during The Great Depression, this can show us that most of the characters are insecure and lonely, as they are Itinerant workers, they have no permanent place of work and no house security after the wall street crash. The unemployment rate was high so there was an extreme lack of job security. They have no time build relationships, and no trust for other people.
Many of the characters experience insecurity for a variety of reasons.
Crooks, the black stable buck feels insecure about his race, this makes him feel he is segregated from the rest as he is the only black person on the ranch, ‘Crooks the negro stable buck’. Because of his race he is discriminated against, no-one ever goes into his room or talks to him ‘I’m black, they say I stink’. Crooks is cruel to Lennie ‘You got no right to come in my room’ this shows a sense of insecurity and bitterness, he is trying to shut people out, as this is the only way he knows to live.
Crooks lives in a barn, he is treated like an animal, he sleeps in a straw bed ‘Crooks bunk was a long box filled with straw’, this shows nobody has any respect for him, he is considered worthless, this will add to his insecurity. ‘Square four-paned window’ this represents that he is isolated and he does not like letting people in, just like a small window does not let a lot of light in.
Black people were discriminated against in the 1930’s, they were treated with little respect, they were treated like nothings ‘Why it’s just a nigger saying it’. Crooks was brought up where the majority of the population were not coloured, ‘There wasn’t another coloured family for miles’ this will make Crooks insecure all his life he has been around people that are inferior to him. Steinbeck uses imagery to compare Crooks to an animal.
Another character that experiences insecurity is Candy, he is the cleaner, he has only one hand and has been at the ranch for a long time. ‘old candy, the swamper came in’. Candy will experience insecurity throughout the novel because he is old and has only one hand this will make him feel insecure because he doesn’t have any job security, as if he loses his job he will not be able to get another as no one else will want an old disabled worker, his whole livelihood depends on someone else he has no control over his life.
He compares himself to a dog, like he cannot protect himself, just like his dog that was shot. His only companion was his dog and now he does not have the dog he doesn’t have anybody ‘when they can me here I wish somebod d shoot me’. We know that Candy is insecure because he seems desperate to join George and Lennie in their dream ‘I won’t have no place to go, an’ I can’t get no more than this’ when he fails to join their dream this makes him feels like he has no future.
Candy is similar it Crooks, the setting is bare, it is just like a prison, there is no sense of security for him.
Curley’s wife is the wife of Curley, the bosses son. She is the only women on the ranch and extremely flirtatious with other ranch workers. Being the only women on the ranch she feels she has power over the men, she flirts with them to overcome her insecurity, she tries to cover up that she is insecure, and she marries Curley to escape her loneliness. Everybody thinks that she is dangerous, but she knows more than everybody thinks ‘Think I don’t know where they all went’.
We know she is insecure because she has dream too, she makes herself seem powerless to make the men think she is more vulnerable. By not making her dream come true she becomes insecure about life and puts up a defensive barrier. She wears a lot of makeup and red, this symbolises danger and the fact that she wears a lot of makeup tells us that she is insecure and has low self esteem ‘her finger nail were red’.
She does not have a name, she is recognised in the book as Curley wife, this gives the impression that she has no importance on the ranch and she is not treated like a normal person therefore this adds to her insecurity and makes her feel worthless ‘A girl was standing there’.
Other characters in the novel that experience insecurity are Bill Tanner and Whit, they used to work on the ranch. ‘Remember, Bill Tanner? Worked here about three months ago’ this gives the impression that the work there is impermanent and transient. This can show the other ranch workers that nothing is everlasting and this can make them feels insecure. They don’t have any job security, they can never settle down this will make them feel insecure because they don’t have anything around them that they can rely on, they don’t have familiar surroundings.
Lennie is insecure because without George he is vulnerable and he has a lot of faith in him, he can’t imagine life without him ‘George won’t go away and leave me’.
Lennie is described using animal imagery. Animals have a low intelligence level just like Lennie, he cannot think for himself ‘the way a bear drags his paws’. Animals are commonly found in packs, if they are left without their pack they become very vulnerable to other animals, George is like Lennie’s pack, this will give Lennie a sense of insecurity as he knows that he cannot survive by himself. He is constantly asking for Georges approval, he relies on George over everything ‘Where we goin’, George’.
So many of the men on the ranch are insecure because they only have their dreams, they have no real life ambitions that they know will truly happen. They have no job or house security this can make them insecure because they do not have any idea of where their life is going to go, they literally have nothing. They are so insecure because they cannot have relationships or friendships with the other ranch workers, this will make them feel like they cannot be themselves and make them feel alone and on their own.
In my opinion George does feel a sense of insecurity at the end of the novel because he does no have Lennie anymore, even though sometimes he did not want Lennie with him at all times ‘if I was alone I could live so easy’ he still liked him to be there and to know that he had someone that relied on him even if he did not rely on himself. Without Lennie George feels alone just like the other ranch workers did, he will soon become as insecure and enclosed as them.
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How is the theme of insecurity developed in the novel 'Of Mice and Men'. (2017, Oct 27). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/how-is-the-theme-of-insecurity-developed-in-the-novel-of-mice-and-men-essay