Racism In Of Mice And Men
Are Caucasians and African-Americans really treated as equal as society says? This novel takes place in the 1930’s, where Caucasians and African-Americans were not equal. One character, Crooks, is an African-American man who does not have the same rights as his Caucasian co-workers. He is not allowed in the bunkhouse because of his race and therefore, gets insulted. In the novel Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, the author portrays the theme of racism through the character of Crooks. Crooks is racially discriminated in various ways, just like African Americans in the 1930’s.
To begin with, Crooks is not allowed to live in the same place as the others and is insulted, much like people in the 1930’s. Steinbeck demonstrates this similarity with the bunkhouse. Crooks states, “ ‘I ain’t wanted in the bunkhouse, and you ain’t wanted in my room.’ ‘Why ain’t you wanted?’ Lennie asked. ‘Cause I’m black…’ ” (Steinbeck 68). This illustrates that Crooks has to be seperate from the others because of his color. This is significant because it shows the racial discrimination of the 1930’s, where Caucasians and African Americans were not allowed to live together. Another example of racial discrimination is when another character, Curley’s wife, was calling the stable buck. Curley’s wife calls, “ ‘Stable Buck-ooh, sta-able Buck!’ And then. ‘Where the hell is that God Damn n*****?’ ” (Steinbeck 29). Curley’s wife was insulting Crooks by calling him a n*****. This is important because calling someone n***** is a huge insult now, as well as in the 1930’s. Therefore, Crooks not being allowed in the bunkhouse and being insulted is a good representation of racial discrimination in the 1930’s.
Another representation of the racial discrimination of the 1930’s is that Crooks feels like his voice is not significant to anyone. Crooks is telling Lennie about his family and that there are no other African American families near the bunkhouse. Crooks says, “ ‘There wasn’t another colored family for miles around. And now there ain’t a colored man on this ranch an’ there’s jus’ one family in Soledad’. He laughed. ‘If I say something, why, it’s just a n***** saying it’ ” (Steinnbeck 70). Crooks is saying that since there is no other colored family around him, his voice doesn’t matter. This is important because people in the 1930’s also felt like their voices didn’t matter to people around them. Furthermore, Crooks feels like what he has to say is irrelevant and unimportant. Crooks says, “This is just a n***** talkin’, an’ a busted-back n*****. So it doesn’t mean nothing, see? You couldn’t remember it anyways” (Steinbeck 71). Crooks is explaining to Lennie how his dreams and ideas don’t matter to anyone, just because of his race. This is significant because in the 1930’s, colored people were ignored just because of their race. Therefore, Crooks thinking that what he has to say is unimportant is similar to the 1930’s, where people felt the same way.
Another example is that Crooks is often insulted, and it makes him feel worthless, much like African Americans in the 1930’s. Crooks was telling Curley’s wife to leave his room, and Curley’s wife started insulting him. Steinbeck states, “Crooks stared hopelessly at her, and then he sat down on his junk and drew into himself” (80). After being insulted by Curley’s wife, Crooks is feeling worthless and hopeless. This is how African Americans in the 1930’s felt after being insulted. They felt worthless and they felt like they didn’t matter because of their race. Another example of this is also when Curley’s wife told him he couldn’t speak to her that way and told him about what she could do to him. Curley’s wife says, “ ‘Well you keep your place then, n*****. I could get you strung up on a tree so easy it ain’t even funny’. Crooks had reduced himself to nothing. There was no personality, no ego- nothing to arouse either like or dislike…” (Steinbeck 81). Much like the first example, being insulted made him feel powerless and worthless. He lost his personality and ego. Many African Americans in the 1930’s felt powerless because they were African American. They were insulted and discriminated by Caucasians. Thus, Crooks is often insulted, making him feel worthless and powerless, and this is the way people were treated in the 1930’s.
In conclusion, Steinbeck demonstrates Crooks as an excellent representation of the racial discrimination in the 1930’s. Crooks is separated from the other workers because is his color, and is insulted by them calling him names. He feels as though his voice does not matter to anything around him. He feels worthless, hopeless, and powerless much like African Americans in the 1930’s. From these examples, it is implied that African Americans and Caucasians are not as equal as society says.
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