Steinbeck presents the character Crooks as the ‘Negro Stable Buck’ at the ranch, Crooks is also the only black man in the novel. A proud and bitter man, Crooks has a cynical intelligence and a contemptuous demeanor that he uses to prevent others from inevitably excluding him because of his race. His defensive manner fades, however, as his character is dehumanized and segregated from the Ranch even more.
We first meet Crooks in Chapter 2, where Candy describes him as a ‘Nigger’, who is treated differently to the other men. The language which Steinbeck shows here, represents the racist and discriminatory attitudes both socially and historically towards black people during the time in which the book is set (1930’s). Steinbeck continues this interpretation when giving Crooks a whole chapter to himself; this structure keeps him out of the other chapters within the book and segregated to his own section. Steinbeck may have used this structure to portray the discrimination within the book. This shows Crooks as a character who is excluded and socially isolated from the other men on the ranch; living in a ‘little shed’. Steinbeck’s effect on the reader may give the impression that Crooks is a character who is innocent and lonely. Alternatively, Crooks comes across as a character who is bitter and dry- telling Lennie he ‘ain’t got no rights’ to be in his room, and later goes on to tease him. Steinbeck may portray a split view between readers, some seeing Crooks as a vulnerable character, some seeing him as a character who is purely horrible; due to his ‘scowls’ and wicked sense of humor.