Of Mice and Men

1242 Words Feb 1st, 2006 5 Pages
Of Mice and Men

Thomas Hobbes in his Leviathan states that, "in the state of nature mans life is nasty, brutish and short". In depression era America, no greater truth could be said. There were millions unemployed, largely unskilled and living on the margins of society. The lowest of the low were the migrant labourers travelling from place to place trying to scratch a living. They often had to travel illegally by freight car with all its consequent dangers. Their life expectancy was low, crime was rampant and despair was a fellow traveller. This is the setting of John Steinbeck 's, ‘Of Mice and Men '.

The novel explores the predatory nature of human existence. It explores loneliness, isolation and friendship. A major theme is that of
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Profound Truth
Oppression does not always come from the strong and powerful. In Steinbeck 's world, the weak prey on the weaker-for example, Curley 's wife threatens to have Crook 's lynched. What we can take from incidents like this is that the strength to oppress others is itself born of weakness.

Economic Reality
There is no doubt that this book is a critique of pure market capitalism. The alienation of the worker or the unemployed is very evident. The ethics are ‘dog eat dog '-a total lack of regard for the dignity of the human person. The struggle of Labour to regain its dignity is best exemplified in Steinbeck 's ‘In Dubious Battle '.

Motifs
1. A man only world
2. The Corrupting Power of Women
3. Loneliness
4. The Human Spirit

Steinbeck has been criticized for many things including the creation of ‘a mans ' world where women take a secondary place. There is no doubt but that he was influenced by the macho acting Hemingway in this regard. Women are looked on as self-serving and or dangerous, the Femme Fatale beloved of Film Noir. They tempt men to behave in ways they would otherwise not do, e.g.-Curley 's wife fulfils the dangerous flirt stereotype. Loneliness is a recurring motif in the novel. There is a great fear of being cast off-each character is looking for a friend. A less that obvious motif is that of the strength and resilience of the Human Spirit. A novel of comparison here is Alan Sillitoe 's, ‘The

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