Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Of Mice and Men Subject and Theme in Our World: Racism

Crooks in Of Mice and Men
In the story Of Mice and Men, Crooks is a black man working on the ranch but is treated unfairly due to the fact that he is black. He is forced to live in a small room inside the crappy farm. He has the worst job on the farm which is to take care of the horses and clean up after their business. No one also likes to talk to Crooks except for Candy and Lennie. Curley's wife abuses Crooks with her harsh words by telling Crooks that she can get rid of him anytime she wants really fast. This clearly shows alienation and loneliness because Crooks is forced to live by himself and he cannot communicate and socialize with others (even though Lennie and Candy do). Crooks' dream is for this racial discrimination against him to stop because we wants to be treated like everyone else and wants to be with other people. Remember, the theme of Of Mice and Men is how the most lonely and isolated people in society have the biggest dreams.

Race and Racism in Of Mice and Men is another subject that author John Steinbeck talks about. However the purpose of this blog is to talk about alienation and loneliness in Of Mice and Men, not Race and Racism. This blog post will be talking about how race and racism in the story and the world is connected to the theme of alienation and loneliness.

Now let's talk about how the subject and theme of Of Mice and Men connects to the world. First of all, here's an example of racial discrimination towards black people in the 1950s. On Thursday, December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks boarded a bus in the city of Montgomery. Back in those days, black people had an assigned section of seats they could sit on which was located near the back of the bus called the "coloured" section. When a white person boarded the bus and there was no more seats and there were black people sitting in the coloured section, the coloured section would be moved back even more toward the bus. This meant that the black people in the first couple rows of the coloured section would have to give up their seats and move further back or remain standing for the rest of their ride. While Rosa Parks was on the bus, the bus stopped in front of the Empire Theater and there were no more seats remaining. The coloured section was moved back and Rosa Parks had to give up her seat. With the guts and bravery she had, she refused to move back. This caused a problem on the bus. The police were called to the bus and Rosa Parks was arrested.

An advertisement advertising black
slaves to be sold.
Black people were also victims of slavery. Slavery of black people can be dated as far back as the 1600s. The black people were bought by white people and were forced to work on cotton and tobacco farms. Even though they were working very hard, they were mistreated. Their living conditions were horrible. Southern US' economy depended on slavery. Most black women slaves cooked, and took care of the children of the white people that owned them. Men were usually trained to be masons or carpenters. A lot of them were farm labourers so they had to plant and harvest crops. However, not all black Americans were considered slaves. The term "Free Blacks" refers to the black people who worked in large cities but had few rights. They could not express their political views or carry guns are just two of the many rights they didn't have that white people had. During the early 1900s, most black people lived in the southern states. During and after World War 1, more and more black people moved to the northern states. They moved to the north hoping they could get jobs and create a better life for them. Unfortunately, these black people were not properly educated and didn't have the proper training and skills to get these jobs. Slums and black "ghettos" were created throughout cities in the northern US. When the Great Depression came, it affected the blacks more than the whites. This was because the black people had a harder time to find jobs for 3 reasons: Firstly, there were no jobs available in general. Secondly, even if there was, the boss would probably prefer a white person. And finally, they didn't even have the education or skills required for most jobs.

After the Great Depression, World War 2 started. Fortunately for black people, WW2 triggered and opened up jobs for the black people. About 1 million black men served the army for America. These black people were even upgraded to higher ranks.

Extreme racism that used to exist in our world can easily be related to the subject and theme in Of Mice and Men. The black people that were poor and treated unfairly and put into slavery were isolated from society, just like Crooks. These black people were forced to do jobs that nobody else wanted to do. These black people would also be taken advantage of and were put into slavery and must do what their boss tells them to do for little to no money. They could not socialize with anyone else because they were stuck in their horrible conditions. They did not receive things that white people had. For example, black people had separate schools and washrooms created for them. These schools were probably not even that good knowing the way black people were treated back then.

Racism can also be connected to the theme in Of Mice and Men. Racism also exists somewhat today, but not the extreme as it was back in the early to mid 1900s. Anyone who was or is currently a victim of racism has one dream. And that dream is for the racism to stop. They think to themselves, who cares if I have a different skin colour? How does that make me so different from everyone else? They want to be treated equally. This theme is present with Crooks as well in Of Mice and Men.

Thanks for reading,

~ Ramez Fares

Sources:

http://www.english-online.at/history/african-americans/history-of-african-americans.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosa_Parks

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-6niXGf566LU/TdAo9ynk52I/AAAAAAAAAAg/M5BYzWr0n8Y/s1600/micechar9.jpg

http://blogs.clarionledger.com/jmitchell/files/2010/05/Rosa-Parks-Dickson1dec05.jpg

http://www.latinamericanstudies.org/slavery/slave-ad.jpg

http://www.archives.gov/research/african-americans/ww2-pictures/images/african-americans-wwii-013.jpg

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