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.