America was put into a state of national depression in a matter of 24 hours. On October 29, 1929 millions of dollars was lost by the American economy in a time known as, the Wall Street Crash (this led to the Depression). Banks became bankrupt themselves and over 1/3 of the American population became redundant. The story ‘Of Mice and Men’ is set during the American Depression in the American countryside where both Lenny and George whom are ranch hands are going to their next job on Curly’s father’s farm.
In the book, the economic depression is largely explored and has a great influence on the structure of the book.
Both George and Lenny represented real – life ranch hands they had, ‘no family’ and ‘don’t belong no place. ’ Most men during the economic depression had little to go by in terms of money and work. Most ranchmen wasted their money, ’stake’ and had little going for them as only people who were educationally equipped and also financially sustained could live well.
Ranchmen could only, ‘work up a stake and they go inta town and blow their stake, and the first thing you know they’re pundin’ their tail on some other ranch.
They ain’t got nothing to look ahead to. ’ This became a reality in real – life as fewer jobs were permanent and the little pay that the ranchmen got was so small that the only way to spend it was on drink and brothels. The American Dream was depended on greatly by most of the population of America as at this time it acted like the thread of hope that could well have gotten many people out of the economically deprived state they seemed to be in. Both Lenny and George dreamed of owning a farm and living off, ‘the fatta the lan’.
’ This meant living for themselves and growing their own crops to live a self – sustainable independent life together. ‘I remember about the rabbits, George,’ this is a very significant line, it portrays the great hope that one can still have and that a dream can be achieved. The dream for Lenny and George was very humble. Lenny wanted to, ‘tend the rabbits’ and George hoped for a place to settle down. Lenny always remembers their dream as there was a chance it could have happened.
During the depression many Americans became recluse to themselves, times were hard and what little could be gained was meant for an individual and their own loved ones, this isolation is represented when, ‘Candy spoke they both jumped as though they had been caught doing something reprehensible. ’ This shows that Lenny and George’s dream was meant for themselves not anybody else; they hoped to hide this from others so they can get their dream without others interfering and potentially messing it up. However Candy’s interference was worthwhile as it started to form their dream, ‘they fell into a silence.
They looked at one another, amazed. This thing they had never really believed in was coming true. ’ This sheer excitement is a reflection of what small opportunities during this time made to an American’s life. Racism is greatly reflected in ‘Of Mice and Men,’ during the depression, racism was more evident in American society, especially against the black population who were racial segregated. Crooks the stable buck is a prime example of this as he has one of the lowest social statuses and is always referred to as, ‘nigger.
’ He is isolated from the rest of the ranch hands, “you don’t let me in your house to play cards, so why should I let you into my house? ” This sentence reveals that this action bothers him so he does not want to interact with the people that are so socially unaware of the wrong they are doing. The ranch hands seem to be oblivious to the fact Crooks is a real person and even when Crooks was allowed to join in with the Christmas festivities, he was still caught up in some degradation as he became centred around a fight with one of the ranch hands.
‘Yes sir. Jesus, we had fun. They let the nigger come in that night. Little skinner name of Smitty took after the nigger. ’ Lastly, the lives of women are explored greatly. Women at this point were merely for show. There were no significant female leaders in America at this point and women like Curley’s wife were treated mainly as objects not real people. The life of Curly’s wife was very isolated. She was thought to cause trouble; this is because she was attractive and married to a man who wanted to pick a fight with anyone.
A fight like that would easily arouse if a ranch hand handled Curley’s wife, “She’s gonna make a mess. They’s gonna be a bad mess about her. She’s a jail bait all set on the trigger. That Curley got his work cut out for him. Ranch with a bunch of guys on it ain’t no place for a girl, specially like her. ” Curley’s wife is treated like trouble and because she is the only female on the ranch she is isolated. She has no female friends, men will fancy her, her husband has anger management issued and she has no morale guide.
Women may have been treated more as trophy wives than they did before, “well – she got the eye,” this quote is said by Candy as a compliment. Overall Curly’s wife reflects closely to the prejudice that women could have faced but it was unlikely all women at the time would have been treated this badly, up to the point that she had been killed. In conclusion ‘Of Mice and Men’ is generally a thorough reflection of the period of time the book was written in. Both Black people and women were isolated in situations against white men who were largely dominant on a social front in the American economic depression.