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Marxist Criticism in Of Mice and Men

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Manneet Dhaliwal

on 5 March 2014

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Transcript of Marxist Criticism in Of Mice and Men

Marxist Criticism
Of Mice and Men

Textual Evidence 2

“You seen what they done to my dog tonight? They says he wasn’t no good to himself nor nobody else. When they can me here I wisht somebody’d shoot me. But they won’ do nothing like that. I won’t have no place to go, an’ I can’t get no more jobs.”
Outside Sources
-”In Marxism and Literary Criticism Eagleton discusses Friedrich Engels´
concept of ideology; that art/literature are connected to ideology, unlike politics, law
and religion, which are “more complex”. (Eagleton, 2002, 16) Eagleton explains that,
even if we might not know the “truth” about what an ideology disguises, it is through
art that we can experience and get a better understanding (knowledge) of that
ideology, “which is equivalent to ideology.” (Eagleton, 2002, 17)”
“Marx´s understanding and definition of alienation is that it has four different
features. The first is alienation of the worker from the product of his/her labor….”
Eagleton, Terry. Ideology. Longman, London, 1994.
Fatma, Balci. “The Marxist Concept of Alienation and Exploitation in
Of Mice and Men.” University of Gothenburg. Sweden. 1987.

Marxist Criticism
Marxist analysis of human events and productions focuses on relationships among socioeconomic classes, both within a society and among societies and it explains all human activities in terms of the distribution and dynamics of economic power.

How do Marxist Critics approach literature?
Marxist critics approach literature by focusing on the individual psyche and the economic systems that structure human societies in the text. For example, they would observe the material/historical realities and what they produce. Another way is to identify ideologies at work in the literature and analyze how the ideology supports or undermines the socioeconomic system.

Textual Evidence 2
-Carlson wanted to get rid of Candy’s dog because he felt it was useless and old in his opinion. His mindset was that the weak do not have a place in life. After his dog was killed, Candy realized he is in a similar position with his job and his boss. Eventually he will be useless and will be without a job, so he would want someone to shoot him so he would not suffer. This supports the ideology of classism, where one’s value is determined by their social class. Lennie is later shot by the same gun Candy’s dog was shot with. This is a symbol of the oppression and destruction of the weak and innocent. The weak and innocent cannot survive in such a cruel society.

Textual Evidence 3

Curley glared at him. His eyes slipped on past and lighted on Lennie;...ranch.”
“Curley stepped over to Lennie like a terrier. “What the hell you laughin’ at?”’
“Then Curley’s rage exploded. “ Come on, ya big bastard. Get up on your feet. No big son-of-a-bitch is gonna laugh at me. I’ll show ya who’s yella”’(62).
“”He cupped his hands around his mouth and yelled, “Get ‘im, Lennie!”’
“George yelled again, “I said get him.”
“Curley’s fist was swinging when Lennie reached for it. The next minute Curley was flipping like a fish on a line , and his closed fist was lost in Lennie’s big hand”
Textual Evidence 1
“‘Don’t you go yellin’,’he said, and he shook her; and her body flopped like a fish. And then she was still, for Lennie had broken her neck.” pg. 91
“Now Candy spoke his greatest fear. ‘You an’ me can get that little place, can’t we, George? You an’ me can go there and live nice, can’t we George? Can’t we?’ Before George answered, Candy dropped his head and looked down at the hay. He knew.

Textual Evidence 1(cont..)
George and Lennie had the dream of buying and owning a ranch where they could live off the land. After Lennie killed Curley’s wife, George knew that that dream could never be reached, with those circumstances. The only reason George believed in the dream, or their “American Dream” is because of Lennie. Without Lennie, it was nothing, and after the murder, George knew Lennie would not get away. According to the Marxist lens, the American dream blinds us to its failure, and that is what happened with George and Lennie.
Textual Evidence 3
During this scene in the book, Lennie is extremely innocent as he was just thinking about the dream of the ranch. Curley needed to find a subject to attack so he Lennie to an advantage and attacked him showing he had higher authority. Lennie is just a worker and he also is a proletariat which was on the bottom of the hierarchy and Curley is a bourgeois which made him on the top of the hierarchy. When Curley beats up on Lennie, Lennie believes that he is not stronger than Curley and would not ever be. Curley obviously has more authority because his dad is the boss on the farm and is higher on the social class. Lennie does not believe his strength until George gives him the authority to go for Curley and not to just sit there and take the beating. Which shows the power struggles because Curley is higher because of his dad and George has a lot more say on Lennie as Lennie asks George before he does anything. Curley is a man who believes he has more strength than everyone but Lennie and George have a subtle power too.
Outside Source
This source explains that by identifying ideologies in literature, we can understand the ideology and its concept. Such as Marxist ideology. The author wrote an essay about Marxist lens in Of Mice and Men, and sets out to explain it. She argues that in order to do so, she must expose and understand the ideologies before she shows the Marxist idea of alienation.

Outside Source 2
-”Marxism is concerned with labor practices, class theories, and economics, especially as concerned with the struggles of the poor and oppressed. A Marxist might ask, "How are classes stratified/defined in this text? Does this text reflect an economic ideology? What is the attitude toward labor furthered by this text?"”

The source explains the definition of Marxism and what it focuses on. It gives example questions that Marxist critics would use and an insight of the type of path Marxists take.
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