What method does Steinbeck use to reveal the hardships of the lives of the characters in the novel? Steinbeck wrote the novel ‘Of Mice and Men', at the time when America was going through The Great Depression. The novel discusses the idea of the American dream which was to get rid of The Great Depression. The novel was published in 1937. Steinbeck uses numerous techniques to reveal the hardships of the lives of the characters in the novel.
Steinbeck uses animal imagery throughout the novel. He uses metaphors to describe Lennie. For example, “like terrier who doesn't want to bring a ball to its master, Lennie approached”. This implies that the lack of intelligence and the lack of confidence he has, the way he acts and the way he speak. This all creates an image of Lennie in the readers mind. This also suggests that Lennie must rely on George like a dog relies on its owner because society was not advanced that the way it is now. Because the government had ‘no interventionist' policy, people like Lennie wouldn't have had the support of the social services. This also shows that Lennie is innocent like an animal, and innocent creatures had to struggle to survive in 1930s in USA because everyone is competing with each other.
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Furthermore, Steinbeck uses descriptive passages to describe the settings. At the start of each chapter there is always a description of the setting. At the beginning of chapter 4 he describes Crooks' bunk. “Crooks; the negro stable buck, had his bunk in the harness room; a little shed that leaned off the wall of the barn”. This conveys that Crooks had to face racism because he is black. He is called the ‘nigger‘ by the migrant workers and the boss. He is not treated equally. Also, at that time in America, black people faced prejudice until Martin Luther King protested to get rid of the prejudice against black people. Because of the racism Crooks is really lonely and has to live alone in a separate bunk. First Crooks was treating Lennie unfairly because he was white and he thought that Lennie is the same as the other migrant workers. But he soon realised that Lennie was different to others; also he was weaker than him. So he started treating him differently to the other migrant workers.
In addition, the migrant worker stayed in the bunk house. All the migrant workers who live in the bunkhouse are white. Everybody in the bunkhouse has apple boxes to put their belongings in. “Over each bunk there was nailed an apple box with the opening forward so that it made two shelves for the personal belongings of the occupant of the bunk”. This communicates us that they had very few belongings which showed how much poverty they were living in. This all links to the Great Depression which was happening in America during the time this novel was written.
In contrast, Crook was treated badly but he was more educated than the other migrant workers. “And he has books, too; A tattered dictionary and he mauled copy of the California Civil Code for 1905”, and “A pair of large gold rimmed spectacles”. Crooks had more things compared to the other workers. Plus he has glasses and he read books which suggest that he was more educated than the other migrant workers. The readers at that time would be shocked because he was black and he was clever than the people who was white. Also at that time black people who went school came from a rich background.
Steinbeck also focuses on sexism. He gives the reader the background of the characters and the present situation. Steinbeck writes, “ ‘you bindle bums...he could put me in pitcher'”. This shows that Curley's wife's dream was to become a film star but she couldn't because she married Curley, which shows that how childish behaviour she has. This tells us that not all dreams come true; which relates to George's and Lennie's dream of having a ranch didn't come true. Whereas the American dream did come true, this shows us that some dreams do come true but not all of them. Because of everybody competing for the same dream it is difficult to cope up with others so they make each other fail because of this.
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To continue, Steinbeck makes the reader think how the character behave and what they do. For example, Crooks behaviour to other people compared to Lennie. “‘Come on in and set a while,' Crook said”. As Crooks is treated badly, so he doesn't like anybody and doesn't let anybody to come in his bunk. But he told Lennie to come in his bunk. This suggests that in that time in America there were some black people friends with white people, and some whites even protested prejudice against black people. Also he tells Lennie to set a while in his bunk so he could avoid loneliness and also this implies that Lennie is an innocent and vulnerable character.
Steinbeck also sets out the structure so that the readers can understand the hardships of the lives of the characters. From the beginning to end the structure is contrasting. For example, in the beginning the novel starts near the Salinas River where it is really bright whereas, the novel ends in the same place as it started but it was very dull. Also the chapters start with the description of the setting and ends with the description of settings. There is also a cyclical structure of George and Lennie getting a new job, then Lennie destroys things and they run away which takes them one step away from achieving the dream.
The cycle of failure continues until George shoots Lennie. He shoots Lennie because he didn't want anybody to kill Lennie except because he didn't wanted to feel like Candy when somebody else shot his dog. This show that he has given up on the dream and wants to stop the cycle of failure to keep occurring in his life again and again.
In conclusion, as you can see, Steinbeck employs a number of methods in order to communicate the difficulties of characters to the reader. For example he uses exposition, animal imagery, descriptive passages and many more. This shows us that the government at that time had appalling policies because of the depression.
In my opinion, I think Steinbeck has done an immense job of putting across the American dream in the form of a book. By stating how the how people's lives were like and the hardships they had to go throw at that time because of The Great Depression. So the people at that time have to be willing to work hard and believe in their dream, which made the novel Of Mice and Men a great hit.