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I think that Steinbeck's depiction of Crooks allows many different elements upon which one could write. For me, one of the most stunning elements is how Steinbeck was able to draw out Crooks' character in the fourth chapter of the novella. It would be very basic for Steinbeck to only flesh out the idea that Crooks endures marginalization on both racial and socio- economic levels. Steinbeck does accomplish this, but there is much more to it. In the section, Steinbeck is able to create a hunger in Crooks, and convey it to the reader. There is a hunger in Crooks for company. His initial torment of Lennie is to bring out this condition of isolation and alienation in the world that plagues him. Yet, Steinbeck's characterization of Crooks takes on new dimensions when he is able to present him as one who is initially hesitant and apprehensive to engage in dreaming, but still someone who seeks to believe in something beyond what is. His embrace of the dream that Lennie and Candy share is small, and very minor. Yet, it is almost a validation of the power of hope even in the most dire of circumstances. It lasts for almost a page or two, until Curley's wife enters and strikes with poison to bring out Crooks' own condition in the world as one where dreams are impossible to hold for more than a moment. When Crooks tells Candy at the end of the section that he wants to withdraw his initial acceptance of such a vision, and he is left to rub ointment in the silence and loneliness of his room, it is a statement that hits at the reader with a force. In the end, Crooks becomes a character that we, as the reader, examine as both mirror and looking glass. At what point do we become victim of our worlds and at what point do we seek to transcend it? The answer feeds a larger question of whether or not it is foolish to feed the desire to see what should be as opposed to what is. I think that examining how Crooks enhances the theme of dreams and reality is something that can be explored in great depth in this section of the novella.
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