Will novel Of Mice and Men by John

Will discrimination and prejudice always be a part of our human nature? In the novel Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, discrimination appears in a multitude of different ways stemming from racism, sexism and discrimination against people with disabilities. Steinbeck believes that discrimination is an inherent trait of human nature. The discrimination found in the book is reflective of the the time period and the way in which people of colour, women, and people who were mentally and physically disabled were looked down upon.Throughout the book Lennie, Curly’s wife, Crooks, and Candy all deal with prejudice and discrimination in different ways. The theme of discrimination in the form of racism is portrayed by Steinbeck in the character Crooks, a black man living on the ranch. Crooks is alienated from the other men due to his colour. One example of how Crooks is taken advantage of due to his colour is when Curly’s wife threatens him “‘Well you keep your place then, nigger. I could get you strung up on a tree so fast it ain’t even funny'” (87). Crooks is aware that because he is black, no one would care if anything happened to him. Crooks is isolated from the other men by having to live in the barn with the animals because he is not considered “good” enough to live with the other men. The fact that Crooks lives with the animals suggests that he is looked upon as an animal. Towards the end of the novel Crooks admits to Lennie that because of his colour, he is isolated from all of the other men. “I tell ya a guy gets too lonely an’ he gets sick” (72-73). There are many challenges that Crooks faces in the novel but he is not the only one to experience discrimination. Sexism is another form of discrimination that is present in the novel. Every character in the novel has a name except Curly’s wife. She is simply referred to as the wife of Curly, reducing her identity. Candy insults Curly’s wife by saying to George, “Well, I think Curley’s married….a tart” (28). Curly’s wife is seen as an object to the men in the novel. When the conversation about Curly’s vaseline filled glove arises, it is revealed that “Curly says he’s keepin’ that hand soft for his wife” (27). This quote shows how Curly’s wife is reduced to his sexual object. Curly’s wife’s only purpose on the ranch is to please the men. When Lennie kills Curly’s wife she’s still seen as a ‘play-thing’ for other men. Curly’s wife may suffer from discrimination against her gender, but Lennie, Candy and Crooks face a different form of discrimination. The final type of discrimination in the novel is discrimination against mentally and physically disabled people. In the novel these disabilities show that Lennie, Crooks and Candy are taken advantage of. Lennie is constantly discriminated against due to his mental disability – the other men on the ranch see him as less of a person because George always looks out for Lennie as a parent. “Lennie was looking helplessly to George for instruction” (25). This quote shows that Lennie simply does not have his own voice and is treated like a child. Candy lost a limb on the ranch and in turn always gets very simple jobs, however his employment at the ranch is always in jeopardy. “I got hurt four years ago…they’ll can me purty soon. Jus’ as soon as I can’t swamp out no bunkhouses they’ll put me on the county” (60). His usefulness as a ranch hand is in question and he seems to have no other purpose in life. Crooks’ name comes from the fact that his back is crooked “This is just a nigger talkin’, an’ a busted-back nigger. So it don’t mean nothing, see” (71). Crooks’ opinion of himself is so heavily influenced by the discrimination that surrounds him that he views himself as useless. Although discrimination is a major part in the novel, there are breakthroughs throughout the book where these characters show that they are not just defined by social prejudice. Crooks turns out to be quite smart and just wants to live where he will not be discriminated against. Curly’s wife had dreams and aspirations to be an actress and is more than just a ‘tart’. Lennie shows that even though he has a mental disability, he is the only character in the novel who sees past the bad. He does not understand why Crooks is separated from the rest of the men, and why Curly’s wife gets treated the way she does. Lennie has a mind set of an innocent child and in a way, that is a beautiful thing because he treats everyone equally. Are there lessons that we the reader can learn from Lennie’s non-judgemental outlook on the world?