Crooks Essay

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How does Steinbeck present the character of Crooks?
In the novel “Of Mice and Men”, the character of Crooks is used by John Steinbeck, the author, to symbolise the downgrading of the black community occurring at the time in which the novel was set. Crooks is also significant as he provides an insight into the reality of the American Dream and the feelings of the people in the ranch; their loneliness and need for company.
Steinbeck presents Crooks as a victim of racism and throughout the book, he is called by the name ‘nigger’. Being black, Crooks is hated on the ranch.“Ya see, the stable buck’s a nigger”. The use of this word dehumanises Crooks and shows how black people at the time, had no rights at all. He also says, “If I say
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Steinbeck also writes, ‘Crooks said sharply’ and the word ‘sharply’ supports this idea because it shows it is an immediate reaction to the intrusion. It is also like a defence mechanism as he feels slightly paranoid about what is about to happen. He lets Lennie in his room eventually but he continues to torment him, ‘his voice grew soft and persuasive’. Crooks tries to use persuasive language in order to insult Lennie and take advantage of his condition. “Sp’ose George don’t come back no more(...)what’ll you do then?” Crooks takes the chance to fight back from how he has been tortured in the past. He also wanted to make Lennie feel how he has been feeling for most of his life; lonely and isolated. Yet Lennie tries to fight back and Crooks gets scared and tries to carm him down.
Crooks is also presented as powerless, as previously discussed it is perhaps this lack of power that leads to his bitterness. One quote shows how Curley’s wife threatens him and Crooks sits down and doesn’t fight back, “Crooks had reduced himself to nothing. There was no personality, no ego-nothing to arouse either like or dislike”. Steinbeck tries to use metaphorical language to show that Crooks doesn’t want to be seen and that he fears for himself. It also shows that he is at the bottom of the social hierarchy mainly because he is the only black person on the ranch. The repetition of the word ‘no’ and ‘nothing’
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