From the Weak to the Strong: The Social Hierarchy of Mice and Men

Decent Essays

From the Weak to the Strong: The Social Hierarchy of Mice and Men
Since the beginning of society men have always followed a social hierarchy; a concept Charles Darwin studied intensely. Through this ideal, the strong prey on the weak and the weak are isolated, taken advantage of, and often humiliated. In the novel Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck recreates a social hierarchy between his supporting characters to prove that those who are weak and vulnerable are subject to ostracism and ridicule. At the bottom of the hierarchical chain, Lennie becomes the epitome of what Steinbeck believes is the weakest, most “unfit” member of society. Darwin’s classifies “fitness”, in a social manner, as the ability a person to adapt and integrate …show more content…

Women are mostly irrelevant throughout Of Mice and Men and when they are introduced they are regarded as either pleasure givers or pleasure seekers. The pleasure givers are women who reside in a brothel and are worth only “two an’ a half” (52). The other women are automatically categorized as pleasure seekers which can be seen though Curley’s wife who, in reality, simply craves some company since she “never get[s] to talk to nobody” (86). Steinbeck fails to even dignify her as a person by refusing to give her a proper name. Instead, she is referred to as Curley’s wife: a piece of Curley’s property. Those above her in the hierarchy ignore or silence her voice, especially in regards to what she aspires to be or to have, her dreams. She is completely ostracized by the other men on the ranch because of her prescribed reputation as pleasure giver since she is a woman, so when Curley’s wife is able to socialize with the only person with whom she can, someone who is lower than her socially, Lennie, she relays her “story quickly, before she could be interrupted” (88). The fact that Steinbeck places Curley’s wife above Crooks and Lennie in the social ladder emphasizes how futile those characters are; if a character viewed as a piece of property is placed above another character than that latter character must be significantly

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