Due to George thinking that Lennie may embarrass him, Lennie is in Crooks’ room. “Slim an’ George an’ ever’body [went into town]. George says I gotta stay here an’ not get in no trouble. I seen your light. ” This implies that George was telling Lennie to stay at the ranch.
Presumably, George had Lennie to do this as he wanted some time away from George. As Lennie did not ask for a proper reason, and obeyed George, he simply stayed at the ranch.
This shows that Lennie lacks the mental strength to question George, and the will to defy George and socialise with fellow ranch workers. In 1930s America, laws were set by the government which discriminated against coloured people, and there were laws which would now be considered racist and against the US Constitution. Crooks is not allowed in the bunk house because of this racism. “[I’m not wanted] Cause I’m black. They play cards in there, but I can’t play because I’m black.
They say I stink.
Well, I tell you, you all of you stink to me. ” Crooks is not allowed in the bunk house solely because of his colour, which is why he lives in a house in the barn. Although he shows anger when speaking to Lennie, he doesn’t stand up to anyone who is strong enough to have it backfire. This shows both Lennie and Crooks are week and are discriminated against, as Crooks soon realises. Crooks uses the companionship between George and Lennie as an example of his weakness as he is black.
“S’pose you didn’t have nobody.
S’pose you couldn’t go into the bunk house and play rummy ’cause you was black. How’d you like that? ” This shows that Crooks has a pretty sombre and pessimistic attitude on life, and is jealous of the way that Lennie has a companion. It also shows that Lennie is angry and upset about the prejudice agenda that the USA had at that time. At that time in America, white people generally were de facto superior to black people. “Well, you keep your place then, Nigger. I could get you strung up on a tree so easy it ain’t even funny”.
When Curley’s wife, who is white, says this, it shows that she was using her position as a white woman to stop Crooks from talking back to her, and slowly but surely make him feel diminished. When she says that she can have him strung up on a tree, it refers to lynching him and hanging him from a tree, which was rather common in the Southern United States in the 1930s. The use of the word “nigger”, which is a taboo word nowadays, shows that Curley’s wife has the superiority to use that word in a derogatory manner. This also brings up the theme of racism, which is a recurring theme of Of Mice and Men.
When Curley’s wife made the racist retort, Crooks’ ego seemed to grow smaller and smaller. “Crooks had reduced himself to nothing. There was no personality, no ego – nothing to arouse either like or dislike. He said, “Yes, ma’am,” and his voice was toneless. ” This shows that in the toughest of times, Crooks is unable to fight back. It also shows another side of Crooks, that he is a sensitive and submissive man, contrasting with the side that we saw in the first part of the chapter where he seemed a confident man who can sometimes be a bully.
This also shows that, in the 1930s, although black people were given the constitutional rights to defend themselves (in a court, although they did too have the right to bear arms for defence), white people frequently hung black people without a fair trial. Although it was becoming less frequent it still occurred, especially in the Southern United States, where California (the place in which the book is situated) is in. Crooks had been shaken by Curley’s wife statement, which he regarded of as true. “Candy said, “That bitch didn’t ought to of said that to you. ” “It wasn’t nothing,” Crooks said dully.
“You guys comin’ in an’ settin’ made me forget. What she says is true. ” Although only a threat (albeit a very harsh one) Crooks knows that it is ultimately true. The way that Crooks said it can also be noted. He said it dully, which can be noted that he was upset by the statement, even if he has probably heard it before. Curley seems to strive to be treated normally, but eventually realises that in the end, because he is black, and because he is a cripple, he will probably never be treated well by anyone, and will have to have it tough until he dies, or, which is sadly a concept, is killed.