How are some of the following economic concepts portrayed in Of Mice and Men?  Scarcity, Capital, Opportunity Costs, Tradeoffs, Competition, Self Interest, Public Interest, Work ethics, and Redistribution Programs. 

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Since this book is not an economics text, it does not really lay out how each of these things appears in this society.  However, we can see some of the economic concepts that you mention here at work.

Since we know that this book is set during the Great Depression, and since the book focuses on the hardships endured by workers, one thing we can notice is the lack of any redistributive programs.  There is no welfare in this society.  There are no programs to take care of people like Lennie, Candy, or Crooks.

The main way in which we see a work ethic is with Slim.  He is respected by everyone on the ranch and is at the top of the hierarchy among the hired hands.  This seems to be because of his work ethic.

Scarcity is very important in this book.  George and Lennie have their dream.  This can be seen as the “unlimited wants” that go into scarcity.  The problem is that they have limited resources with which to pursue this dream.  This means that their entire dilemma is driven by scarcity.

There is also self-interest everywhere in this book.  The economy of the book centers on self-interest.  The owners of the ranch use the ranch hands for their own good.  They do not worry much about the public interest and about helping the hands move on to better things.  Instead, they simply try to get what they can out of those hands.

In these ways, we can see many economic concepts at play in this work. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial