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This short novel addresses themes of loneliness and the failure of the American dream. In creating the novel, Steinbeck presents these two themes primarily through the main characters of Lennie and George. Critics fault him for not involving more of the ranch hands in the presentation of these concepts: Crooks is a victim of racism and is excluded from the pursuit of the American dream. Yet, Steinbeck does little with this important social issue. Candy is physically handicapped after losing his hand, but Steinbeck fails to pursue this type of discrimination, too. Another objection is that the language in the novel is profane and coarse, making the novel inappropriate for high school readers, according to standards created by many school districts.
On the whole the book has had rave reviews from critics, especially for use in curriculum, but there are some literary, sexual, social, and political critiques that could be made out of favor with the book. For starters on the literary front, the book itself is very repetitive and it's already short. There is a lot of redundancy in regards to Lenny and George talking about the farm they hope to have someday.
Some critics have also argued that Steinbeck could have done more with Crooks as a character because racial exclusion was such a big problem in the country at the time and with the exception of perhaps the scene in his separate bunkhouse with Lenny and Candy in Chapter 4.
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