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In 1962 Kennedy was president, and Americans were looking to the New Frontier. A distant World War and depression still haunted our past. The baby boomers were typical displaced teenagers, and an author was honored. His influence had impacted society, especially the voice he gave to the oppressed.
Even though what was considered his great work was decades behind him, John Steinbeck received the Nobel Peace Prize. He had shaped America with his writing. In Of Mice and Men, his literary voices as a regionalism, naturalist, and proletarian are represented. John Steinbeck was a regionalism who described life vividly in the Salinas Valley, as well as life on a ranch. Steinbeck used those experiences to create the scenes that were in Of Mice and Men. In literature a regionalism can be defined as an emphasis on a location which is sometimes the author?
s native land. Steinbeck captures the scene of the Salinas Valley in the first few paragraphs of his novel. ? A few miles south of Soledad, the Salinas river drops in close to the hillside bank. On one side of the river (leads to) the Gabilan mountains On the sandy band under the trees the leaves like deep and so crisp that a lizard makes a great skittering if he runs among them? (Steinbeck 1). This realistic description of the beauty in the Salinas Valley shows that Steinbeck advocated his homeland and shows characteristics of being a local color writer.
Later, Steinbeck describes his native land in beautiful terms. He writes, ? (T) he sun had left the valley to go climbing up the slopes of the mountains, and the hilltops were rosy in the sun. But by the pool among the mottled sycamores, a pleasant shade had fallen? (99). This shows that he portrays the Salinas Valley in a positive light, despite what might be happening in the story. Steinbeck stays loyal to the actual beauty of his surroundings. Steinbeck also spent some time as a ranch hand, and this is apparent in his story.
Steinbeck describes the bunk house to make the reader feel as if they were entering the building themselves. He adds a realistic touch by writing, ? the sun threw a bright dust-laden bar through one of the side windows (which made the) flies shot like rushing stars? (18). This describes the ranch accurately, but realistically. The bunk house is not a clean environment, and being a ranch hand is not easy work. Steinbeck also writes about the men?
s western magazines. He says the periodicals portrayed the life of a ranch hand more glamorously than the men could bring themselves to believe. The characters that Steinbeck wrote about were also realistic, and they portrayed his naturalist voice. A naturalist is an advocate of placing emphasis on the passing's of life without idealism's and the avoidance of the bad parts. Steinbeck portrayed Slim as a calm respected leader. He showed that Slim understood a little bit more about people than he allowed one to realize. ? (T) he prince of the ranch His authority was so great that his word was taken on any subject be it politics or love? (33).
Slim has earned the respect of the men. He understands what is going on and has a concern for his work. He asks George right away about how well he can work. Later he keenly pries George and Lennie? s past out of them.
This is realistic, because Slim has to look out for his ranch. George is a natural character with good virtues and flaws. George can be considered virtuous, because he helps take care of his friend. This care extends to when George has no choice but to kill Lennie. George proves himself virtuous, because he allowed Lennie to go peacefully without torture or fear. George is not the strongest man, and he is humble.
When describing himself on the job, he states, ? I ain? t nothing to scream about? (33). This shows humility and that he is not boastful. George can also admit his mistakes which he does admit to Slim. George tells of when he took advantage of his friendship with Lennie.
George recalls said, ? He damn near drowned before we could get him... he was so damn nice to me for public? him out. forgot that I told him to jump in? (40. ) This shows that George did what humans like to do to fit in, and treat those who do not belong cruelly. George grew as a person, because of this experience, and it makes him more human.
However, Curly has a tendency to brag, and despite his size, he has a big temper. Curly boasts that he can beat anyone up. He is proved wrong by Lennie. Lennie squeezes his hand and breaks it.
Carlson is another character who does not develop throughout the novel. Carlson mostly has ideas. His ideas are blurted out over and over while little is said about them. It is not until a leader validates them does Carlson have an actual voice. Steinbeck gives a view into the oppressed, an African American man, the mentally handicapped, and the elderly.
Most notably Steinbeck was a proletariat. A proletariat is someone who advocates the second class citizens which are the members of the lower social and economic class. Steinbeck gives the African Americans a voice in his novel through Crooks. He depicts Crooks as an old man, who is wise, and has been taught? his place. ? Crooks recalls when he was a child, ?
The white kids come to play at our place, an? sometimes I went to play with them, and some of them was pretty nice. My ol? man didn? t like that. I never knew till long later why he didn?
t like that. But I know now? (70). This shows that Crooks is bitter because of his placement. Crooks has been considered ugly and smelly by his co-workers. They believe they have a right to ridicule the way he smells despite that they do not socialize with him indoors. There are prejudices held to Lennie, who is mentally handicapped, that are atypical of their time.
George tells Lennie not to speak unless spoken to when they first arrive at the ranch. George does this, because he is aware of the biases that are placed on a mentally handicapped young man. Curly feels that he can pick on Lennie, because he is slow. He is proven wrong when Lennie crushes his hand. Steinbeck allows us to see that there are certain injustices that happen to mentally handicapped people. One empathizes with Lennie, because he is innocent.
He does not comprehend what he is doing. Candy is the wisest of the outcasts, possibly the most respected. He is an old and crippled man who still dreams of having his own plot of land. Candy is excited that he might actually have his dream realized. Steinbeck makes us aware of the elderly? s plight in the beginning.
The scene where Candy is convinced to allow Carlson to kill his dog is a good example of this. Carlson disrespects Candy and tries to convince him that his dog is no good to anybody. ? That stink hangs around even after he? s gone He ain? t no good to you ain?
t no good to himself Look Candy. This ol? dog jus? suffers himself all the time? (44 - 45. ) In reality Carlson is referring to all old and crippled people. This is the voice of the society. Steinbeck shows that Candy understands.
He later replies, ? I with somebody? d shoot me if I got old an? a cripple? (45). Steinbeck portrays the injustices and the prejudices that are applied to the oppressed misfits. In conclusion, Steinbeck stressed his powerful voice as a regionalism, a naturalist, and a proletariat.
The characters Steinbeck brought into focus were virtually unseen. His effort was greatly appreciated by all. He was honored with one of the worlds greatest prizes for bringing to the attention of the public to the injustices that were being suffered by an invisible second class. He had stimulated monumental movements that influenced history from the depression to the civil rights era to the recession.
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