Sunday, September 1, 2019

Explain the Importance of the Outsider in the Novel ‘of Mice and Men’

Explain the importance of the outsider in the novel ‘Of Mice and Men’ An outsider is someone who is not accepted or is isolated from society. ‘Of Mice and Men’ is set in the 1930’s, where society considered many people as outsiders. During this period, many people were racist, sexist and prejudice towards disabled people. This is shown with several characters in the novel including Crooks, Curly’s wife and Candy who are all considered as outsiders in this novel, since they each had something that the society at that time were prejudice towards. In the 1930’s black people were highly discriminated against. This was mainly because many black people started to migrate form the south to the north in order to find employment. Many blacks stared to establish their own neighbourhoods, businesses and restaurants. All this activity caused competition to grow with the whites already living in these areas and many white people weren’t used to black people living in their community and this caused a lot of tension between whites and blacks. Furthermore, because of the Great Depression many people lost their jobs and had to find new jobs, and the blacks who had migrated up north, started to take available jobs. The white people living in the north became angry that the blacks were taking over their positions. The character Crooks from the novel, is an old black man with a crooked back. He is probably the most discriminated against since he is black and disabled, which means he can’t do as much work as the other. He works as a stable buck at the ranch, but although he has a job, we can assume that he gets the lowest wage on the ranch because he is black. This is shown in the novel since he doesn’t have a proper bed; instead he has ‘a long box filled with straw, on which blankets were flung. This is probably because of his low social status and therefore doesn’t get the same as the other workers on the farm, which includes a proper bed. Furthermore he is separated form the other workers, since he lives in ‘in the harness room; a little shed that leaned off the wall of the barn’ rather than in the workers room, like the rest of the workers. Crooks himsel f shows this when he says â€Å"I ain’t wanted in the bunk house†¦ ‘Cause I’m black†. Again, this is probably because of his low social status, and because of this he is excluded from the rest of he workers. We are shown just how low his social status is when we find he must share his medicine with the animals, â€Å"a range of medicine bottles, both for himself and for the horses†. This shows us because of his skin colour, he has to use what is available, rather than having his own possessions, and that he is almost equal to an animal, in the eyes of the society. Crooks often acts like he doesn’t want anyone in his space, for example when Lennie enters his room he says, ‘You’ve got no right coming in my room. This here’s my room. ’ He acts like this because he feels that if he isn’t aloud in the white people’s houses, they shouldn’t be aloud in his. However his desire for company ultimately wins out when he invites Lennie in his room. Also when Candy comes into his room, Steinbeck tells us ‘It was difficult for Crooks to conceal his pleasure with anger. ’ This shows us that although Crooks wants to act like he doesn’t want people coming into his room, he actually is happy when people talk to him, since he is an outsider and doesn’t have any company. Another character who is considered an outsider in the novel is Candy’s wife. In the novel, she is never given a name and this is probably since she has no importance in society. During Steinbeck’s time, women were not held in high regard, but were just present to serve men. Curly’s wife is neglected by Curly and because of this she is always seeking attention. This is shown by the way she dresses with ‘Red mules’ and ‘Bouquets of red ostrich feathers’. She is ‘heavily made up’ and has ‘rouged lips’ and ‘her fingernails were red’. Steinbeck uses this imagery to portray her as provocative, since red was a very provocative colour in this period. She dresses like this since she knows her beauty is her only power in this society and is they only way to get attention, which she doesn’t get form Curly. However, by trying to get the attention of other men, she steps outside her role as a married women, and this is probably why she is often called a ‘tramp’ or a ‘tart’. Straight away George senses that she is trouble and says ‘You keep away from her, cause’ she’s a rattrap if I ever seen one. ’ George knows that Curly would be very angry if he caught one of the men flirting back with her, but not because he is jealous but because he see’s his wife as his property, rather than a person, and this is probably another reason why she is named as Curly’s wife. Just like Crooks, since she is an outsider, Curly’s wife is looking for constantly looking for company and the perfect opportunity to talk to someone is when goes Curly is out with the workers. All who are left are ‘the weak ones’-herself, Candy, Crooks and Lennie. She even says it herself- ‘Standin’ here talkin’ to a bunch of bindle stiffs-a nigger an’ a dum-dum and a lousy ol’ sheep-an’ likin’ it because they ain’t nobody else’. However, she is so desperate for companionship that she talks to them anyway. She is ‘breathing strongly, as though she had been running’; again this shows us just how desperate and lonely she is as an outsider. In addition, Candy is another character who can be considered as an outsider. He is an old man, left with only one hand as the result of an accident at work. Because of his disability he cannot do the labour that the others do, and so has a demeaning job as a ‘swamper’- the man who cleans out the bunk house. We know he is old, since when Steinbeck first introduces him, he describes him with lots of words that show him to be old and weak, such as ‘old man’ and ‘stoop shouldered’. He often uses lots of anecdotes which show that he remises on the past, like many old people do and that he has been on the ranch a long time. Also, he often repeats himself, which shows that his memory is deteriorating and he is ageing. Candy knows that he is getting weaker, and that soon his boss will soon declare him as useless and he will lose his job- ‘They’ll can be pretty soon. Jus’ as soon as I can’t swamp out no more bunk houses they’ll put me on the county. ’ Because he can’t afford to lose his job he doesn’t challenge anything. When they shoot his dog, since it’s too old, he feels even lonelier since his dog was his only real friend. Also it reminds him that when he becomes old, he will no longer be needed. Candy even says to George, ‘you seen what they done to my dog tonight? They says he wasn’t no good to himself or nobody else. When they can me here I wisht somebody’d shoot me to. ’ He says this because without a job he will have nowhere to go since because of his age, disability and the Depression he can’t get another job. Candy is excluded from the workers social life by his age, his disability and his demeaning job, but also by his own choice-‘I didn’t go in there. I ain’t got no poop no more. ’ He knows he is too old to socialize and this makes him an outsider since he can’t do what the other workers do since he is too old. In conclusion, I think Steinbeck uses outsiders, such as Candy, Crooks and Curly’s wife, to try to show the discrimination against gender, race, age and disability in 1930’s society and how it affected the life’s of outsiders of 1930’s society.

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