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The Theme of Racism in 'Of Mice and Men'

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lexi andrews

on 20 September 2012

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Transcript of The Theme of Racism in 'Of Mice and Men'

The theme of racism in 'Of Mice and Men' Racism is prejudice or discrimination directed
against someone of a different race based on such a belief. What is racism? Racism was a big issue in the time the novel was set.
This theme is quite important because it mainly refers to the only black character in the book, Crooks.
This means that Steinbeck has one chapter mainly about Crooks and this helps us with our understanding of Crooks; who as a character does not speak much.
Crooks is also treated unfairly compared to the other men on the ranch. Why is it an important theme in the novel? The only chapter that we really see racism is in chapter four, the scene when Lennie goes into Crooks' room.
We can tell from the beginning of the scene that Crooks is bitter towards other people, 'You got no right to come in my room.' Anger is his defense against racial prejudice.
Once Crooks realizes that Lennie is not trying to be mean he becomes a bit more frindly, 'Come on in and set a while,' and 'His tone was a little more friendly.'This is the turning point of Crooks' bitterness.
Crooks is also a very lonely character because of his race, ' Books ain't no good. A guy needs somebody - to be near him.' Crooks is separated from the other men and lives in the harness room, which was normal at the time the novel was set. Racism in the novel More about Crooks role in the theme of racism Crooks opens up to Lennie about his life and how he feels, 'A guy sets alone out here at night, maybe readin' books or thinkin' or stuff like that.' Crooks is extremely lonely in his room and has no one to talk too.
Crooks also did not grow up being separated from white people,'The white kids come to play at our place,' Crooks also says he used to play with them.
We also find that Crooks becomes even less bitter when Candy arrives and Crooks let him into his room too, 'If ever'body's comin' in, you might just as well.' Crooks is liking haveing company for a change but does not want to admit it,'It was difficult for Crooks to conceal his pleasure with anger.' This shows how happy he is to have company and some people to talk too. We have already seen that Crooks has started to be less bitter towards the others because he realizes that they are not discriminating against Crooks for his race.
Crooks is almost knows that George and Lennie's dream will not work out,'every damn one of 'em's got a little piece of land in his head. An' never a God damn one of 'em ever gets it.' This was unfortunately the truth most of the time.
However when Candy tells Crooks that they nearly have all the money they need to buy the land Crooks asks to be a part of it, '... If you ... guys would want a hand to work for nothing - just his keep, why I'd come an' lend a hand.' Crooks has really let his wall come down by talking to Lennie and Candy.
The mood however drastically changes when Curley's wife come into the room and is nasty to Crooks, by calling him a 'nigger', Crooks then puts his wal straight back up again. 'Crooks had retired into the terrible protective dignity of the negro.'
The atmosphere continues to get worse beacause Curley's wife is there, 'Well, you keep your place then, Nigger. I could get you strung up on a tree so easy it ain't even funny.' Crooks goes back to just how he was at the start of the scene and chapter,''Yes ma'am,'and his voice was toneless.' He now felt weak again. changes of mood in this scene Racism is not a main theme in the book but it is important because of the time the novel was set and because of Crooks. Crooks does also not speak a lot in the novel and Steinbeck could be doing this to show the place of black people at the time the novel was set. Crooks is also the only black character in the book and he is treated very unfairly and different to the other men on the ranch even though he is probably the most intelligent of the men, he also sits and reads a lot since he has no interaction with the other men. Overall Crooks is representing the the racism at the time the novel is set. Overview By Lexi Andrews
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