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John Steinbeck was familiar with the agricultural community along the Salinas River because he grew up in the California region. Many of his short stories and novels depict the events in the 1930s in Salinas Valley. One of the many ways he presents the 1930s in Of Mice and Men is in the type of jobs that Lenny and George seek out. In the book, the men discuss having work tickets. Work tickets were part of a work relief program established during the Great Depression.
In the 1930s, the Great Depression led to high rates of unemployment. Men hopped railroad cars looking for work and went to find jobs at farms because there usually was ample food available as well as a small paycheck. Many single men shifted throughout the country in search of jobs just like Lenny and George.
Segregation between blacks and whites was also present. Lenny learns about this from Crooks, a black stableman. Crooks is required to live in the harness room and not with the others in the bunkhouse. Crooks explains to Lenny that he was left at the ranch while the other hands went to town. He shares that he is not wanted. Also, one of the books that Crooks owns is the California Civil Code for 1905.
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