“Of Mice and Men”, is a well-established 1937 novel published by the legendary author, John Steinbeck. Born in Salinas, California, he based this outstanding work on personal experiences of the depression. Steinbeck wrote “Of Mice and Men”, during the last phase of the Great Depression, which was triggered by the Wall Street Crash in 1929 and lead to a great number of American civilians losing their jobs. It also caused many American people to lose their homes, for many could not afford to maintain paying their mortgages.
This was due to their income being inadequate for the resources they required. Every event, which had occurred, would have resulted in people feeling emotionally insecure, since they would have to start their lives again from scratch. People were not sure what they were going to do, whether they would receive decent work, where would they live. They did not feel safe or secure anymore. During the 1930’s, agencies were set up to send migrant farm workers to ranches where they were required. “Ranches”, as they were called, would earn $2. 50 or $3. 00 a day with food and basic accommodation.
Ranchers could not commit to any permanent employment due to the shortage in the amount of work available. The farm-hands never knew when their job would end, and would be sent away when told to by the boss, therefore having to find work elsewhere. These situations left them feeling insecure, as they would not have any friends or any relationships due to constant migration taking place, and never having any assurance about their future. In the novel the character by the name of “Crooks, the Negro stable buck” is a victim of prejudice and isolation on the ranch due to the colour of his skin.
Being the only “Negro” on the ranch and bearing in mind the prejudice towards blacks during the late 1920’s, Crooks is alienated for that reason alone. Crooks is a neglected skinner who lives a secluded life, and while all the other workers sleep in the same bunk houses, Crooks is left alone to sleep in a harness room with poor conditions, “a little shed that leaned off the wall of the barn”, with a long box filled with straw, on which his blankets were flung existing as his bed. Crooks is able to leave his possessions where he wishes, as the shed in which he lives belongs to him only, therefore he doesn’t have to be considerate to anyone.
Crooks is unfortunately restricted to what he can do, ever since a horse unexpectedly kicked him which resulted in him attaining a crooked back, hence his name. Being a stable buck and a lonesome cripple, Crooks was more permanent than the other men, and had accumulated more possessions over the years than he could carry on his crooked back. ” Crooks doesn’t have any friends on the ranch because he’s a Negro,and he consequently spends most of the free time reading or staring at his, “battered magazines”. Ironically, he is the most educated man on the ranch.
Crooks is an insecure person. He lives unaccompanied, in a shabby shed with “a manure pile under the window”. He uses the “battered magazines” and “dirty books” to entertain himself after he finishes work. In Crooks’ room there is “a mauled copy of the California civil code for 1905”, the book outlines the rights of black people in America during this time. This illustrates to the readers that he wants to know his rights as he has so few. It tells us that Crooks is insecure about his rights because he wants to know every single one.
Crooks has no rights due to his skin colour, so when Lennie intrudes not realising that Crooks’ room is “out of bounds”, Crooks instantly becomes defensive and uncivil “I ain’t wanted in the bunk room and you ain’t wanted in my room”. Crooks is an exceptionally cautious person, and since he has so few rights if someone accidentally or purposely crosses one he immediately defends himself and his rights, as Lennie discovers “You got no right to come in my room. This here’s my room. Nobody got any right in here but me.