The idea of outsider in “Of Mice and Men” and “The Withered Arm” Essay
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“The Withered Arm” was written by Thomas Hardy who was born in 1840 in the village of Higher Backhampton near Dorchester. He has two sisters and a brother. When he was nine he went to a church-funded school in Dorchester. But his classmate found him shy so he was a loner at that time. So that’s why he was interested in outsider. In 1867 he started to write novels and from 1887 he started to write short stories which are based on his knowledge of Dorset life.
He did well and the London magazines paid him a lot of money for his stories.
“Of Mice and Men” was written by John Steinbeck. He was born in Salinas, California in 1902. His family was not rich but he loved the outdoor and nature. In 1919 he went to Stanford University to study marine biology. Because he is in university he needs money to carry on, so he had some jobs while he was at university and one of the jobs that he did was working on a ranch near King City in the Salina Valley. That’s why he was so interested in writing about men and women in working class.
The definition of an outsider is a person or thing excluded from or not a member of a group, set. But in “The Withered Arm” and “Of Mice and Men” is a lot more than just a person exclude from a group. In the stories characters are not only physically got kick out of the group because of their disability and color, for example Candy and Crooks. Some characters got reject from the group because they have emotional disability and Curley’s wife is one of them. Because all these characters have disability so they lose confident to communicate with people the more confident they lose the more of an outsider they are.
I’ll take Curley for example because he is not good at communication at all. The only way he knows how to communicate is to fight. That’s the way he communicates and it is not good so that’s why he is an outsider. Anyway if you become an outsider it doesn’t mean that you are bad or you are disable. You can be an outsider because you are too good when everybody else is not as good as you. For example Slim, he is a perfect leader. Too perfect! That’s why you’ll feel like that he is not from that group of people following the definition in the dictionary he is an outsider as well as the rest of the characters.
Rhoda Brook is an outsider not because she has disability or emotional disability it is because she had Farmer Lodge’s child without marrying him. In those day is a very bad thing to do. That’s why people see her as an outsider. Plus after Farmer Lodge marry another woman who is a lot richer prettier than her. That woman’s name is Gertrude she becomes very nice to Rhoda and gave her and her son a lot of things to eat and to wear and Rhoda had a dream one night, she dreamt about her grapping Gertrude’s arm and the next day Gertrude came along and told her that she has got a weird fingers print on her arm. Rhoda feels really guilty about it.
Because she thinks that she has done that to Gertrude in her dream. Anyway after that Rhoda is trying to avoid seeing Gertrude or any other of the people. Until Gertrude meets her and asked her to see the Conjuror Trendle another outsider, Rhoda was trying to get away with it that shows that she wants to be an outsider because she thinks she is the one who did the thing on her arm. “By the next afternoon Rhoda would have done anything to escape this inquiry”. Another thing Rhoda said which shows that she is an outsider because she said, “I told you never to speak to anybody in that house, or go near that place.”
All those reasons make her become an outsider is true but I think the main reason that makes her hide herself and isolate from other people because Farmer Lodge treats her son badly and her son is the only one who cares about her the one who is relate to Farmer Lodge. That’s why she feels embarrass. Trying to isolate herself from everyone.
Gertrude is an outsider because she has only just come to the town. Even she admitted that she is an outsider, “You must expect to be stared at just at first” from that sentence sounds like she means that I am an outsider at the moment but soon I will not be. But unfortunately she is too high class for the rest of village she is a lady but the rest are just workers. She is too good for the others. She is quite similar to Slim in the way because they both too good for the others.
The main reason that makes her an outsider because she has got the withered arm which makes her becomes a superstitious woman but that’s not the only thing. The withered arm is taking the love away from her husband, “makes my husband – dislike me – no, love me less. Men think so much of personal appearance.” She is not only similar to Slim she is also similar to Candy. It is because they both disable. If you think about it Gertrude is physically and mentally disable she is so confuse. She doesn’t know what to do with her arm. Because all these reason she changes her personality trying her hardest to get rid of the withered arm.
Just like “Of Mice and Men” a lot of people in “The Withered Arm” are outsiders. You might not be aware of it but Farmer Lodge is an outsider as well. He is an outsider because he is too rich and good for the entire village and he has a son with Rhoda without marrying her makes him an outsider, “her husband was never seen in Casterbridge again.” He feels ashamed because he has done something very bad in those days. This makes him an outsider.
Conjuror Trendle is an outsider because he has magic power and not a lot of people like wizards and witches those kinds of things they think all these people are evil. So he lives very far away, away from other people because he is an outsider. He wants to stay away from everybody else.
The hangman is an outsider as well he has been isolated from his profession people in those days they do not like a person who kills another person because they think he is not clean they will think that he has something to do with evil. That’s why he is an outsider as well. “dwelt in a lonely cottage” he is like Crooks. Crooks have been isolated because of his colour and the hangman has been isolated because of his job.
In “Of Mice and Men” is like “The Withered Arm” there are a lot of outsiders in the story because John Steinbeck and Thomas Hardy both interested writing about outsiders. Such as George and Lennie, George is an outsider because of Lennie and Lennie is an outsider because he is stupid. Lennie pulls George down and make him an outsider. George has to get him out of trouble all the time if George doesn’t has Lennie with him he can do a lot better than he is now. “God a’mighty, if I was alone I could live so easy. I could go get a job an’ work, an, no trouble.” He doesn’t want Lennie to follow him but he lets him do it anyway because if he leaves him he is going to die because he is so stupid.
Lennie is an outsider because he is stupid. Plus he has got a weird hobby he likes to touch soft and smooth things and that gets him in trouble all the time and that makes him an outsider. People try to kill him because he can’t control his power all the time. He loses control of his mind sometimes. Because of this he crushed Curley’s hand so Curley hates him. All he thinks about is rabbits, that’s his dream. He always wants to tend the rabbits.
Curley’s wife is an outsider because she is mental disable she doesn’t know how to communicate with other people in a normal way. All she knows is to communicate with people in a sexual with. She talks with her body but not her mouth. “Well, you keep away from her, ’cause she’s a rat-trap if I ever seen one. You let Curley take the rap. He let himself in for it. Glove fulla Vaseline,” that’s a piece of advice which George gives Lennie to avoid him do anything to Curley’s wife. George knows about Lennie too well. As soon as he sees Curley’s wife he knows what is going to happen.
Candy a nickname for an old man who lost his dog and missing a hand in an accident. All he had was a dog, that dog was his best friend but Carlson thinks that it smells so he killed it now he is just an old cripple with no friends. That makes him an outsider. He is too old for everybody else and he is disable. He is like Gertrude because they both disable and because of this it changes their personality Candy use to be a man but not anymore because he hasn’t got a pair of hands he only has one and he is always afraid of getting kick out of the ranch because he is disable.
Gertrude, a young woman who has the withered arm changes her personality as well. From at the beginning of the story she does not believe in any of magic. But as time goes by she starts to believe however she does only believe she turns into a very suspicious woman. Here is a quote from “Of Mice and Men” telling us he is turning into a man again, “But a change came over old Candy. He stood up suddenly and knocked his nail-keg over backward. ‘I had enough,’ He said angrily” that quote shows that he becomes a man again at that point but he has been a weak one all the time.
Crooks is an outsider because of the culture. It makes him become an outsider because he is black. In that time they think black people are dirt. Simply that’s the reason why he is an outsider. Also he is a cripple as well that’s makes him even more likely to be an outsider. People don’t mind him but they just treat him like dirt. “They let the nigger come in that night. Little skinner name of Smitty took after the nigger. Done pretty good, too. The guys wouldn’t let him use his feet, so the nigger got him. If he coulda used his feet, Smitty says he woulda killed the nigger.” Shows that people don’t care about black people.
John Steinbeck and Thomas Hardy both had a not very happy childhood they are outsiders as well? That’s possible because from the information I’ve got Thomas Hardy was considering a loner in school. So he is very interested in outsider and Thomas Hardy lived away form every from every while he was young so that’s properly the reason he likes to right about outsider. John S worked in a ranch and he knows a lot about it and he knows what are the people in the ranch are like and he might met someone who is like Crooks and he feels sorry for these people so he writes about them.
After all the things that we have written about these two books you can see they are different books however they have something similar they both write about outsiders, this makes them very comparable.