John Steinbeck’s story, Of Mice and Men, is a book that shows all different types of characters and their personalities they have. Candy, Crooks, and Curley’s wife all are completely different people with one common problem. All three of them are judged to be unfavored by the others because of social, mental or physical problems. Many of them are underprivileged as well for these three reasons.
Each individual has many different, unfavored characteristics that contribute to problems with the others on the ranch. Crooks, for example, is the stable buck. He is often called a “nigger” (Steinbeck32) and does not get much respect from the other people on the ranch. The ranchers never let him in the bunkhouse to play cards. Crooks told Lennie in the story ” ‘ ‘Cause I’m black. They play cards in there, but I can’t play because I’m black. They say I stink. Well, I tell you, you all stink to me’ “(75). In this time frame when John Steinbeck wrote the story, black people were not given as much respect as the white people were. Therefore, Crooks was often lonely and not happy with his situation. While he was working with the horses he was kicked in the back and consequently he has a hunched over back. This earned him the name Crooks. These physical characteristics of his skin color and posture make him unfavored by many. Curley’s wife is unfavored as well. She is a flirtatious, young lady whose social skills are not liked. When she married Curley he brought her to a desolate ranch in California.
She is the only young girl there and wants freedom and wants to have a more exciting lifestyle. She is always flirting with the other men on the ranch and is starving for attention. These unfavored social skills have made the others loose respect for her and her feelings. In the story, Candy referres to her as a “tart”(32). Candy is the swamper on the ranch and many people respect him and like him. He is a hard working man and does everything he can to help out on the farm. Even though he is not in the best physical shape, he is appreciated. He lost his hand while working on the farm. Steinbeck makes reference to his condition many times in the book. “He pointed with his right arm, and out of the sleeve came a round stick like wrist, but no hand.” His mental confidence and hard-working attitude helps him through the work he is assigned to. He tries his best and does not give up.
These characters all want something out of life. Crooks does not speak much about his dreams and hopes for the future. However, he does tell Lennie about his childhood and how much he enjoyed it. ” ‘ I remember when I was a little kid on my old man’s chicken ranch. Had two brothers. They was always near me, always there. Used to sleep right in the same room, right in the same bed-all three. Had a strawberry patch. Had an alfalfa patch. Used to turn the chickens out in the alfalfa on a sunny morning. My brothers’d set on a fence rail an’ watch ’em- white chickens they was’ ” (80-81). Crooks never talks about what he wants, but rather how much he misses how it used to be for him. Curley’s wife is probably the one character who wants the most out of life. She said to Lennie once in the barn ” ‘Aw, nuts! What kinda harm am I doin’ to you? Seems like they ain’t none of them cares how I gotta live. I’ll tell ya, I ain’t used to living like this. I coulda made somethin’ outta myself…Maybe I will yet…I lived there right in Salinas.
Come there when I was a kid. Well, a show come through. I met one of the actors. He said I could go with him to that show. But my ‘ol lady wouldn’t let me. She says because I was on’y fifteen. But the guy says I coulda. If I’d went, I wouldn’t be livin’ like this, you bet”(96). She is always talking about how her dreams, lifestyles, and how life could have been. She is a young girl with hopes and dreams and when she was brought to this ranch her dreams crumbled. Curley’s wife makes it clear that she does not like how she is living and she is ready for a change. Candy seems happy enough with his way of living and how it is. He does not complain ever and is thankful he has work even though he is missing a hand. He is making money and has a roof to sleep under. He does not seem ecstatic with his lifestyle at the moment, but he does not have any problems.
He would, however, not mind leaving the ranch. He, George, and Lennie were discussing the possibility of them having a farm of their own. He said to them ” ‘ S’pose I went in with you guys. Tha’s three hundred an’ fifty bucks I’d put in’ ” (65). Candy is a generous man and is like every other person in the world- he wants a better life and needs change.
Each character faces an obstacle, which prevents them from many different possibilities. Crooks’s obstacle is obvious. He is black, and his back is giving him problems. He will not be as strong as he hoped and he will not be liked by many because of his race. “Crooks sat on his bunk. His shirt was out of his jeans in back. In one hand he held a bottle of liniment, and with the other he rubbed his spine. Now and then he poured a few drops of the liniment into his pink-palmed hand and reached up under his shirt to rub again.
He flexed his muscles and shivered” (74). This quote shows his pain from his back injury. This is a problem he must deal with even though the discrimination alone is a huge obstacle. If he were white with a back problem, he would not deal with as many hard ships. He would be helped more and listened to. He can not find better work due to these two obstacles and probably will not ever. Curley’s wife has the obstacle of where she is located. She is in a ranch in the middle of no where. It is hot and boring at the ranch. She is the only female and does not have much to do each day. Her husband, Curley, is very protective of her and he feels she should not talk to any of the men on the ranch. She can only speak with him, yet, she does not even like him. She explained to Lennie how she felt about her relationship when she said, ” ‘Well, I ain’t told this to nobody before.
Maybe I ought’n to. I don’ like Curley. He ain’t a nice fella’ ” (97). She can not leave her husband because he controls her and gives her money and a home. She would not have anywhere to go if she did leave him so she is staying so she can live. Candy’s obstacle is simple and obvious. He does not have a right hand and it gives him trouble when finding work. He knows he is not much good to anyone who needs a strong worker and he said to George and Lennie ” ‘ I ain’t much good with on’y one hand. I lost my hand right here on this ranch’ ” (65). Yet he still tries his best and manages to come through somewhat successfully.
I believe from the three characters, that Crooks will have the hardest time surviving his life. He will never be respected just because of his skin color. Many people will take advantage of his conditions. For example, Curley’s wife was always yelling at him because she had the authority to. She once said ” ‘ Well, you keep your place then, Nigger. I could get you strung up on a tree so easy it ain’t even funny.’ Crooks had reduced himself to nothing”(88-89). There is nothing he can do about his back or his skin color. He will have to deal with insults and lack of dignity all throughout his lifetime. Sadly, that is how that time period of the late 1920s was. He would have to endure the hard times and face his problems. Admiration or not, that’s how his life would have to be.
Of Mice and Men is a story that shows all different types of people and different characteristics they have. It shows that life is not always what one wants or expects. It depends how one will live life and how they will look at it. Having social, physical and mental problems can be an obstacle in life that could ruin ones dreams and make one unfavored. Yet, being able to overcome these obstacles is a great achievement