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As someone who stands outside of the group of men, she is able to articulate succinctly the main theme of the novel, isolation through fear, ‘You’re all scared of each other, that’s what. Ever’ one of you’s scared the rest is goin’ to get something on you’. This is echoed by Slim when he says , ‘Maybe ever’body in the whole damn world is scared of each other’. From the start of the novel the reader can see that Lennie is a misfit due to his lack of intelligence and huge body. He is often described as an animal, ‘the way a bear drags his paws…
snorting into the water like a horse’. From these lines we can see that Lennie is a powerful person, like a bear or a horse but he is also unintelligent. From the first few pages of the novel the reader senses that Lennie is very childlike, ‘His arms did not swing at his sides, but hung loosely and only moved because the heavy hands were pendula’. The movement in this line is one of a bored and grumpy child. Lennie’s obsession with ‘tending rabbits’ is also very child like. Lennie is an unusual character as he is a child trapped in a man’s body.
He does not know his own strength or understand many situations, causing him to get into so much trouble. Lennie is also an unusual character due to the friendship that he shares with George. Most migrant workers did not have friends; this is why lots of people questioned their friendship. From Lennie’s story we learn that the society in which he lived did not cater for unusual characters. For example, when Curley tried to beat him up, Curley did not understand Lennie and his childish world and he was too ready to throw a punch.
And when Crooks realised that he was cleverer than Lennie he took advantage of his new found status and teased him. Also Curley’s wife tried to seduce him, twisting feelings that he didn’t understand. Because of this, Lennie preferred to be in nature as this is where he felt he fitted in better. Lennie is a victim to a society which mistreated him. As nobody understood him and his lack of intelligence, he was led down a road which ended in his tragic death.
The responses to Lennie from the people he encounters are very realistic as people in the 1930’s would not have been educated as to the needs and characters of challenged people such as Lennie. George is typical of 1930’s American society as he believes in the Great American Dream. The Great American dream started in the 17th century when the people moved to America with the hope of a better life. They dreamt of making fortunes. However for many it became a nightmare. Some still carry the dream like George and Lennie’s whose dream was to own a farm on which they could provide for themselves.
He is representative of the few who still carried the dream in the face of a hopeless situation. Crooks tells us that this is just a fantasy as, ‘Every damn one of ’em’s got a little piece of land in his head. An’ ever God damn one of ’em never gets it. ‘ George is an unusual character due to his friendship with Lennie. This is the way that Steinbeck portrays George with a difference; most migrant workers of the period would not have experienced a friendship like George had with Lennie.
George is loyal to Lennie and would never leave his side and makes the greatest sacrifice for Lennie when he kills him, as he saves him from a merciless death, but in doing so he loses his best friend. This friendship causes lots of questions from the characters they meet in the novel. Steinbeck includes these to show the reader what a migrant worker’s life is like. However through this friendship the reader learns that not all of society is unwilling to include a misfit like Lennie. Three other characters in the novel are represented as neither cripples nor misfits except for being ranch workers.
Curly is privileged in being the boss’s son and has prestige as a prize-winning boxer, yet he is still isolated from the other men by his status and his suspicion of them regarding his wife. Carlson is a loner due to his insensitivity In conclusion, I do not consider that there are ”too many cripples, misfits and unusual characters’ in the novel to consider Steinbeck’s portrayal as true to life’ as although each character is unique, they all possess characteristics which are totally believable and representative of a cross-section of American society.
The characters portray the importance of true friendship, loneliness, a man’s ability to dream and having someone to share the dream with, in addition to the vulnerability of being an outsider. Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE John Steinbeck section.