OF MICE AND MEN In the novel Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck illustrates the possibilities that life has and its effects on Lennie, Crooks and George. It shows a view of two outsiders struggling to understand their own unique places in the world. Steinbeck suggests humans have the natural potential to seek happiness although the potential can be fatal or harmful. Although Lennie does not have the potential to be smart, Lennie has the potential to be a hard worker. However, Lennie’s strength did not work with him and the result was fatal. Lennie is an extremely large man who had the strength of a bull. With the use of his strength, he was great worker but did not understand how strong he was. George explains Lennie’s strength by “that big bastard can put up more grain alone than most pairs can”. Through his size and his enormous amount of strength Lennie could out work the other men of the ranch by himself. Through the use of Lennie’s strength he became a great worker who knew nothing more than to work. Lennie uses his abilities to work hard, but does not understand how strong he is. Without George, Lennie does not understand what to do. Lennie gets frightened and uses his strength to hold on to objects. Lennie is just like a child. He will do what ever George tells him to: “Curley was flopping like a fish on a line, and his closed fist was lost in Lennie’s hand. George slapped [Lennie] in the face again and again and still Lennie held on. Through Lennie’s actions we can see that Lennie is very similar to a child. Lennie’s first instinct when he is scared is to hold on. Just as a little kid holds on to its mum or dad when they become frightened, Lennie holds on to objects. As of Lennie’s low intelligence to understand his strength, he becomes frightened and kills Curley’s wife and as a result, she ends up being killed : “She took Lennie’s hand and put it on her head And then she cried angrily. Lennie’s fingers closed on her hair and hung on. He shook her and her body flopped like a fish. And then she was still”. Lennie did not understand his strength and became frightened, and once again just like just like a little child he held on. But he ended up breaking Curley’s wife neck. As a result of his actions Lennie ended up dead. Lennie had an extremely great ability to use his strength and become a great worker. However his difficulty to understand his strength lead to his death. Unlike Lennie, Crooks potential is his knowledge, and Crooks has the ability to use his knowledge to try to escape the problems he has on the ranch. However Crooks falls back into a 1930s attitude and chooses to neglect his knowledge. Crooks also uses his knowledge to express his ideas and feelings to Lennie. “Books ain’t no good. A guy needs somebody to be near him A guy goes nuts if ain’t got nobody”. Crooks is proving that he is a very knowledgeable man. When around others he may choose to use his knowledge to express his ideas and become a stronger influence.
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Crooks uses his wisdom to express his ideas and feelings and leave a very strong impact. Crooks has the likelihood to use his knowledge, but how he uses his wisdom will determine his fate. ‘”I said s’pose George don’t come back no more. S’pose he took a powder and just ain’t coming back. What’ll you do then?’ ‘He won’t do it’ Lennie cried . ‘He’ll come back tonight’—”. Crooks is using his knowledge as a power trip on Lennie who does not understand what Crooks is saying. Crooks is doing this because he has never had a chance to use his knowledge in such way before, but is really abusing it. Crooks chooses to use his knowledge around Lennie. But when a higher authority is around Crooks chooses to ignore it for his own safety. ‘”Listen nigger’, [Curley’s wife] said, you know what I can do to you if you open your trap?’ Crooks seemed to grow smaller, and he pressed himself against the wall . ‘Yes ma’am’, and his voice was toneless”. When a higher authority is present Crooks chooses to ignore his knowledge because he is scared to speak out for fear of losing his job. Despite Crooks, knowledge he chooses to ignore it around higher authority, this ending up in a 1930’s attitude with his knowledge going to waste. Unlike Lennie or Crooks, George has the potential to be his own boss. If George does not work hard enough his potential to be his own boss will be lost and his dream will be crushed. George has always wanted to be his own boss. When he sees that the potential is there, George tries to act on it. George says: ‘”We’d just go there, we wouldn’t ask nobody if we could”. George would love to be his own boss and do his own thing, mainly because George would not have to take orders from any one. To accomplish being his own boss, George tries to save his money so that he can buy the ranch: ‘”If me an’ Lennie work one month an’ don’t spen’ nothing, well have a hundred bucks”‘. To fulfil his potential to be his own boss, George says he will save his money and not spend any. If George can accomplish this he will be his own boss. When Lennie breaks Curley’s wife’s neck, George realises that the potential to be his own boss is lost. Candy says: ” ‘You an’ me can get that little place, can’t we George?’ Candy dropped his head and looked down at the hay. He knew”. Now that Lennie has broken Curley’s wife’s neck, George realises that his possibility of being his own boss is gone. Without Lennie, George feels there is no hope. As a result the potential to be his own boss is lost. George has a great potential to be his own boss, but with the death of Lennie, George loses hope. George has chosen his fate to be a worker and not to be his own boss. Throughout the novel you can get an insight into what it is like to live those characters lives. The novel follows and represents the lives of Lennie, Crooks and George and what they go through to survive. John Steinbeck portrayed these characters very well within following their dreams in life.