Of Mice and Men
In ‘Of Mice and Men’ John Steinbeck uses the character George Milton to depict the life of an itinerant worker in the years of the Great Depression. He experiences the loneliness of an unsettled lifestyle that is offset with a rare and unusual friendship often misunderstood by his fellow workers. We will explore this friendship together with the loneliness, dreams, hopes, and prejudices that dictate the future prospects of George and his travelling companion.
In 1929 the Wall Street Crash in America crippled the country and lead to the Great Depression. People lost life savings, banks closed, and a third of the population became unemployed. In addition to this man-made crisis came the natural devastation of the Dust Bowl. A series of droughts and poor agricultural practices in the southern mid-west, led to billowing clouds of dust that destroyed communities and ruined farmsteads. People were forced to head west in search of work. Set against this devastating backdrop we can begin to understand the plight of the itinerant worker.
California became monopolised by these workers who travelled unaccompanied with limited possessions seeking employment. Their low income and basic board and lodgings did not reflect the long hours and gruelling work expected. There were seldom opportunities for advancement which meant they were constantly moving from contract to contract. Due to this unsettled existence “they were denied wives, families, or circles of sympathetic friends” (Mills) and could only dream that in a world of uncertainty they would find a solution to their lonely and dependant existence.
George and Lennie portray the experiences of these workers with a dream of owning their own piece of land. They dream of having “a little house and a couple of acres, an’ a cow and some pigs and … an live off the fatta the lan”. (1.32) The hopes and dreams that motivate these characters embody the ordinary persons struggle to grasp the...