Steinbeck wrote Of Mice and Men as a novel of social awareness of the time in which it was set. What are the various forms of prejudice exhibited in this novel that are reflective of the times?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that Steinbeck is deliberate in being able to construct a narrative in which social prejudice is so much a part of it.  Consider the basic premise of economic discrimination that is present against those "bindle stiffs" who seek a better life.  The state of being of the farm- hands is brought out in full view through Steinbeck's novel.  It is one in which economic discrimination, the American Dream being closed out for many, is on display.  Essentially, the reason why the dream of George and Lennie will never be achieved is because of the economic conditions in which the pursuit of economic power is reserved for the select few.  Curley will always be taken care of while people like George and Lennie will be grist for the economic system that keeps their dreams limited.  Candy finds himself experiencing this discrimination as well as the discrimination of being physically challenged.  Crooks experiences the economic marginalization of being a farm hand, as well as the racial discrimination that is reinforced by the social setting of the time period.  Lennie is viewed as "dumb" by others around him because of the belief that one type of knowledge is superior to all others.  Finally, Curley's wife endures social stigma because of her sexuality, something that is used to type her as a "vamp" or "tramp," a standard that men would not have to face.  Steinbeck is able to carve out a narrative that depicts the different forms of social stigma that is evident in the social setting of the time period.

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Of Mice and Men

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