No matter where you live or the type of life you lead, everyone undergoes through basic emotions and events that signify the human experience. John Steinbeck, the author of theaward winning novel, Of Mice and Men manages to touch on a majority of the factors that characterize society for what it is. What is disguised as a simple tale about two economically unstable blue-collar workers with a dream, actually depicts themesthings such as friendship, ambitions, lust, innocence, isolation, and violence through symbolism and figurative language.
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Although all these are key concepts of the novel oppression is the major one that each character has to deal with on their own. Oppression is the unjust treatment of a person, and it comes in many forms all of which are explored in the book. Oppression is mostly linked to their economic state, size, race, gender, and power. The question of who is most powerful out of the characters in this book is debatable based on what characteristic of a person is considered most important. Furthermore, since the perspective of each person is so different, they all have different thoughts on who holds power therefore there is not a complete dominant force. For example, Curley values physical strength so to him Lenny holds the most power even though he doesnt admit it, and Lennie values the farm so to him George hold the most power because he is the one who tells him the stories of it. Although these differences in morale and values are true, everyone is fixed on achieving economic stability in one way or another. They all work for Curleyr’s father so even though he doesnt control the workers, he receives the outmost respect. In conclusion, each character experiences oppression based on their unfitting qualities to the standards of society, thus financial status being the only way to gain respect and power, making Curly the most powerful due to his familyr’s wealth and his lifestyle.
A sense of individuality and being able to express and live freely wasnt a very well established philosophy in the time the book takes place. The story occurs in the nineteen-thirties, before protest and activism among minorities managed to make a big change in the lives of the people. Things such as segregation, racism, and extreme prejudice had not yet been outlawed and for our low-income, disabled, and minority characters, this was a big issue.
This can be seen in the way Curleyr’s wife is treated. Her name is never mentioned in the book however, the characters have no problem giving her names and labels.
At the time, women were seen as inferior and only good for marriage, housework, and sex. The male characters converse about prostitution and how much of a trouble Curleyr’s wife is.
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