What have you learned about the characteristics of George, Lennie and Candy in chapter 4, especially about race?To jog your memory, In the book Of Mice and Men, Chapter 4 takes mostly place in...

What have you learned about the characteristics of George, Lennie and Candy in chapter 4, especially about race?

To jog your memory, In the book Of Mice and Men, Chapter 4 takes mostly place in Crooks room.

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brettd's profile pic

brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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As was common in that time period, many Americans were not openly or overtly racist even though they had racist stereotypes and predispositions, but the idea of blacks and whites intermingling socially was a foreign concept.  Jim Crow laws in the South were the order of the day, and while California was not the south, segregation was the general social understanding in the country at that time.

We see Candy and George using the N-word, again, not because they are overtly racist per se, but because it was so commonly used at that time, the term African-American or even negro just did not come up in conversation that often.

Lennie seems to understand there are differences between blacks and whites, both physically and in how they are treated, but he doesn't understand why or allow it to affect his actions much.  He doesn't have the mental ability to.

coachingcorner's profile pic

coachingcorner | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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In the novel 'Of Mice and Men' by John Steinbeck, the author presents us with the disadvantages and injustices common to many minorities and vulnerable people - and in Chapter 4 he mentions race as one of these. For example, we have the learning-challenged (Lennie) the physically weak (George) the disabled (losing an arm in an accident) the female (Curly's wife) the old (Candy) and now the black (Crooks.) So, everyone has something - and all these 'vulnerabilities' are heightened and exacerbated by the Depression. No-one meditated much on the race issue back then, black and white just accepted the status quo - and few batted an eyelid at the word 'ni---er.' What we learn about race then, is it was another levelling force of the Depression. Mostly, all are in it together.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

To me, what we learn in this is that Lennie is pretty oblivious to anything that has to do with the real world, and that includes race.  He seems unable to understand Crooks's point about how lonely it is to be the only black man among white men on the farm.

Candy is not openly racist either.  He does say he has never been in Crooks's room, but does not say that he has anything against being there.  In addition, he shows respect to Crooks by asking if it is alright for him to come in.  It appears that he has not had much to do with Crooks more because of Crooks's attitude and Candy's own shyness.

I don't think we find out anything about George and race.  He wants Lennie out of Crooks's room, but I think that's more because he doesn't want Lennie around people much in case he does something stupid.

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