Of Mice and Men is set on a ranch in California during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Many men were out of work due to the Wall Street Crash; and ranches were seen as a place where men could go to get work, be fed and be housed. The appearance of the ranch lacks any emotion: “The bunk- house was a long, rectangular building… the walls were whitewashed and the floor unpainted. ” Emotion seems to effeminate to have in a ranch. Only the bare essentials are present. Ranch work is very hard, and is most suited to men. The ranch in the book is nearly entirely inhabited by men.
Men, Curley and his father, run it; even those at the bottom of the hierarchy (Candy and Crooks) are male. The only woman on the ranch is Curley’s wife, and it is clear that she does not enjoy it. She flirts with the other workers: “I seen her give slim the eye. Curley never seen it. An’ I seen her give Carlson the eye. ” She does this not because she doesn’t love Curley, but because she has nothing better to do with her time. Throughout the whole book Curley’s wife is referred to as, “Curley’s wife”, we never learn her real name. To me this suggests that she is seen as a possession of Curley’s; an object, not a human being.
Work on a ranch is seasonal; most workers will work only in the summer months, and then find something else to do in the winter. This makes it extremely difficult to sustain a family on a ranch. George says: “Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world. They got no family. They don’t belong no place. ” The employers wouldn’t want their employees to be distracted with the task of bring up a family. This life of moving around the country, working wherever work is to be found, never ‘Putting down roots’ is much more likely to be lived by a man.
Most women’s motherly instincts make them want to create a family and have children. As I have said before, a ranch is no place for families. The workers on the ranch seem to be very unfriendly to each other. As work is temporary, a ranch is not a place where relationships of any kind are likely to develop. One of the only friendships on the ranch is between Curley and Slim. This friendship probably developed because they both are on the ranch all year round, and therefore see each other much more often.
The only time in the book we see real kindness between two workers is after George shoots Lennie. Slim says to George: “Come on George. Me an’ you’ll go in (to town) an’ get a drink. ” This shows that although workers are unable to sustain relationships with one another on the ranch; off it they are able to be friendly. The only woman on the ranch is Curley’s wife and the only female animal is Candy’s dog. Both are killed; which takes the argument, the world of the ranch is a man’s world to the extremes. However the phrase “a man’s world” suggests a world, which benefits all men.
Although no men are killed on the ranch, it certainly doesn’t benefit them all; especially Lennie, Crooks and Candy. Lennie is as “Strong as a bull” but he has the mind of a child. Although Lennie can bail more hay than any of the other workers, the ranch is defiantly not a world suitable for Lennie. His love of ‘softness’ is exploited when he kills Curley’s wife by mistake. George eventually shoots Lennie knowing it would be impossible to archive his dream. The ranch is not a suitable world for Crooks because he is Black and crippled.
He is frequently called, “Nigger”. Candy tells George: “Yes sir. Jesus we had fun. They let the nigger come in that night. ” This shows that Crooks is mistreated enormously just because of his colour. Most of the men on the ranch are racist; but only because most white people living in the States at this time were. The ranch is not a suitable world for Candy. Candy lost his hand in an accident at work. He is very old, and clearly doe not enjoy life on the ranch. He doesn’t get paid as much as the other workers because of his disability.
Candy desperately wants to escape the ranch; he pleads George to let him come and live with them in their ‘dream’ house: “S’spose I went in with you guys… I could cook and tend the chickens and hoe the garden… I’d make a will an’ leave my share to you guys in case I kick off, ’cause I ain’t got no relatives… ” This clearly shows that Candy will do anything to escape the Ranch. Charlie Lovell Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE John Steinbeck section.