Social Outcasts in Of Mice and Men Steinbeck Of Mi

ce and Men EssaysSocial Outcasts in Of Mice and Men

In the novel Of Mice and Men written by John Steinbeck, a variety of
characters are present, although, not all fit in. Two of the strongest
examples are Crooks, and Curley’s Wife. Throughout the novel, they are
portrayed as social outcasts in whatever they did. Another good example is
Lennie, mainly because of his mental condition. All three are treated in a
cruel manner at one point or another in the novel.

Crooks is an older black man with a crooked back, who lives by himself in
the barn. He was asked not to bother the whites, and to stay out of their
way, and so therefore he requests that no one bother him. Being the only
African American on the ranch, the reader begins to question racism and
prejudice. Were the others racist toward Crooks? Not necessarily, they just
didn’t allow him to hang out in the bunkhouse with them. At one point in the
novel, Crooks talks of how lonely he gets, and how a man goes insane without
anyone to talk with. He says this to Lennie:

“”S’pose you didn’t have nobody. S’pose you couldn’t go into the
bunkhouse and play rummy ’cause you was black. How’d you like that? S’pose
you had to sit out here an’ read books. Sure you could play horseshoes till
it got dark, but then you got to read books. Books ain’t no good. A guy needs
somebody-to be near him. A guy goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody. Don’t make
no difference who the guy is, long’s he’s with you. I tell ya, I tell ya a
guy gets too lonely an’ he gets sick” (pg.’s 72-73)

Even if nobody treated him like an outcast, or in other words called him a
nigger and pushed him around, he had to feel like one. The above quote
explains what Crooks felt loneliness could do to a man.

The other men on the ranch also treat Curley’s wife, who is never given a
name, poorly. She is always looking for attention and flirting with them,
and this turns them off immensely. The fact that she is the only woman in
the novel, accept for the one from Weed, is somewhat sexist from the reader’s
perspective. Curley doesn’t let her talk with any other men accept himself,
and rarely shows her any affection. At one point in the novel, Curley’s wife
gets upset with the fact that she isn’t allowed to socialize with the other
men, and she doesn’t understand them, and so she says this:

“If I catch any one man, and he’s alone, I get along fine with him. But
just let two of the guys get together an’ you won’t talk. Jus’ nothing but
mad. You’re all scared of each other, that’s what. Ever’ one of you’s scared
the rest is goin’ to get something on you”
(Pg. 77)

She might get more attention if she didn’t flaunt herself so much. She was
definitely one of the outcasts.

Finally, we come to the enormous, clumsy, and mentally slow Lennie. He
isn’t treated as an outcast by the others as much as Crooks and Curley’s wife
are, but instead, his mental disorder basically separates him from the
others. He is always in his own world minding his own business. The fact
that he is constantly set apart from the others with no one to supervise him
cause him to get into trouble more often. He is alone in the barn with
Curley’s wife when he accidentally breaks her neck. If someone else had been
there, such a horrible incident might have been prevented. Lennie isn’t so
much an outcast as he is a loner.

John Steinbeck uses his characters by portraying them as being social
outcasts. Crooks, Curley’s wife, and Lennie each receive their fair share of
dislike in the book. In conclusion, the fact that these characters were
treated so poorly helped to add an interesting twist to the story, and it
added to the plot, ultimately creating a successful novel.