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The Detrimental Effect of Discrimination in Of Mice and Men “Discrimination has a lot of layers that make it tough for minorities to get a leg up” writes the billionaire Bill Gates, describing its effect on segregated people. Discrimination refers to the horrific treatment of a certain category of people due to differences that separate them from the majority. The segregated people are often isolated and abused into conforming to subservience. The crisis of discrimination is extremely evident in John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men as major characters are severely impacted by their segregation, leading them to discard their dreams and hopes and focus on abiding by their stereotypes.
These outsiders are manipulated due to their distinct characteristics by others, resulting in them making certain decisions that alter the plot of the story. Three characters that are majorly affected by discrimination in Of Mice and Men include Crooks, Curley’s wife, and Lennie. Crooks is strongly affected by racial discrimination as he is mistreated and insulted through physical abuse and racial threats, provoking loneliness and being inferior, which ruins his hopes and dreams. For instance, segregation fosters a severe defensive hostility in the African American due to racial isolation, resulting in him barking to Lennie “‘I ain’t wanted in the bunkhouse, and you ain’t wanted in my room‘Cause I’m black. They play cards in there, but I can’t play because I’m black. They say I stink ’”(68). Crook’s behavior is explained as he is prevented from entering the bunkhouse and socializing with the ranch workers as they believe that he is inferior due to his skin color. The isolation causes Crooks to feel extremely desolate as he is separated from his workmates and forced to live by himself. He simply desires and attempts to ignore discrimination by pretending to want to be left alone and refuses to interact with people of the opposite race, further isolating him. In addition, after receiving severe insults from Curley’s wife, Crooks morosely calls to Candy “‘Member what I said about hoein’ and doin’ odd jobs? I wouldn’t want to go no place like that’”(68). Crooks reverses his decision on living and working on the dream farm after being racially insulted and threatened with implications of lynching, which he cannot defend himself against. Society slaughters the victim debilitated by discrimination, stripping him of his hopes and dreams that causes him to follow the rules of his segregation and order the two accomplices from his room. Consequently, Crook’s dreams and feelings of belonging are shattered as he is slotted into his rightful class by discrimination. Similarly, Curley’s wife faces gender discrimination, viewed to society as a troublemaker for being a woman while she only wants to interact with other men and share her dreams and feelings, which are ignored. For example, gender discrimination incites a pugnacious behavior in Curley’s wife as she complains, “‘Well, I ain’t giving you no trouble. Think I don’t like to talk to somebody ever’ once in a while?
Think I like to stick in that house all time?’”(77). Curley’s wife is viewed like other women during the Great Depression time as promiscuous tarts that destabilize men’s longevity and should be confined to their houses to carry out chores. She is not even referred to by her name, but simply as “Curley’s Wife” throughout the novella, showing that men only regarded her as a possession of Curley’s. The stereotypes cause her to dejectedly roam around the farm hunting for company amongst a ranch that is filled with men, never intending to cause harm. Additionally, Curley’s wife contemptuously says that she is “‘standin’ here talkin’ to a bunch of bindle stiffs- a nigger an’ a dum-dum and a lousy ol’ sheep – and’ likin’it because they ain’t nobody else’”(78). The discourteous behavior results from the loneliness and dissatisfaction of being unable to achieve her dreams and goals due to the segregation that she faces in the Soledad society. To shield herself and conceal the indignation faced by the prejudice, she aggressively lists the stereotypes of which the three men are ostracized by society, tormenting Crooks for his race, Lennie for his unintelligence, and Candy for his age. Therefore, Curley’s wife is affected by the societal view of a typical woman, sparking a dependability on flirtatious behavior and insults to conceal the patheticness and pointlessness of her life. Lennie is discriminated for his mental disabilities and physical appearance, inciting feelings of defenselessness and being a disappointment to George. One example is when George dejectedly lamments to Slim of Lennie’s mental capabilities, narrating that he “‘used to play jokes on ‘im ‘cause he was too dumb even to take care of ‘imself. But he was too dumb even to know he had a joke played on him. ’”(40) George’s past harassment of Lennie is seen as discrimination as he is craftily manipulated for his lack of intelligence.
The inability to comprehend the situation leaves an obvious presence of vulnerability and a strong sense of dependability in the character. Although George serves as a companion, he demoralizes the man by convincing and scolding him that his lack of intelligence is trouble-prone into submission of his instructions, who in consequence has no personal opinion over his choices. Lennie also faces possible condemnation as Candy gossips that “‘S’pose Curley jumps a big guy an’ licks him. Ever’body says what a game guy Curley is. And s’pose he does the same thing and gets licked. Then ever’body says the big guys oughta pick on somebody his own size, and maybe they gang up on the big guy… Seems like Curley ain’t givin’ nobody a chance”(26). Lennie exists in society during the time of the Great Depression where many people lacked jobs due to economic depression. Big men were forced to suffer the oppression of others as they were viewed to provide a stronger labor force due to their size. Curley and his supporters’ harassment destroys victims, including Lennie, in physical and mental aspects as they are forced to adhere to their prejudice, despite their strength. Hence, prejudice of his physical and mental abilities causes Lennie to feel hopeless when faced by ominous threats. Discrimination is a major factor that hinders the uniqueness and crushes the dreams and hopes of many affected victims.
Throughout of John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, the totality of the characters are massacred by prejudice as they all have different physical or mental abilities. Three majorly evident examples include Crooks who faces racial prejudice, Curley’s wife who faces gender segregation, and Lennie who faces both physical and mental discrimination. These victims exhibit outsider feelings as they are tolled heavily by isolation. Crooks and Curley’s wife are affected by their segregations so severely that they intimidate others who are weaker than them to subdue their feelings of desolation. The obvious differences in the three characters causes them to be manipulated or manipulate each other, suddenly altering the story’s outcome. The story ultimately describes the evils of a worldwide crisis, easily showing the reader its application in a society during a huge period of struggle.
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