Depression In Of Mice And Men

1308 Words 6 Pages
In John Steinbeck’s seminal novel Of Mice and Men, the nomadic farmworker George laments about finding work in the Great Depression, saying, “Guys like us…are the loneliest guys in the world. They got no family. They don 't belong no place…They ain 't got nothing to look ahead to.” This somber reflection of the era conveys the hopelessness that afflicted millions in this country. Even President Roosevelt, lauded as America’s savior, did little more than put a dent in unemployment numbers that soared above 25%. Only the onset of the Second World War finally pulled our country out of the slump and into a flurry industrial activity, but not until nearly twelve years of hardship and adversity had passed. Russell Baker recounts his family’s experience …show more content…
One drama they dealt with was his mother Lucy’s decision to give up her daughter Audrey after his father’s death from conditions related to his diabetes (86). The resulting feeling of not being able to hold her own family together had a deep psychological impact on her, as she was a hard workingwoman who had a deep motherly instinct. Yet the Depression still forced her to give up her daughter. The fact that it was difficult for his mother to find work because of her gender was another way the times affected the Baker’s. This, “Unfair advantage bestowed by pantaloons” (29) was a lifelong injustice to Lucy Elizabeth that her son …show more content…
The Bakers could rely on relatives like Uncles Allen and Harold to give them a roof (127, 182). Even more generous was Baker’s Uncle Willie, who continued to send his mother checks throughout the Depression that no doubt kept food on the table (144). Uncle Allen, who supported his own growing family in addition to Russell’s, and could even buy a piano, albeit a used model from a vendor who lost his business (68, 173). This reliance on others must have been tortuous for Lucy Elizabeth, who wanted nothing more than to own her own home. However, while she emphasized hard work to her son at an early age, even she must have conceded that this life of charity from kin was preferable to the hopelessness felt by thousands, like Oluf, her onetime lover. His sad story was all too typical of the era, and his search for work that started out optimistically, became embittered by 1933, summarized by the quote. “I am lost and going and not interested in anything anymore” (115). As an immigrant with little to no support, Oluf was not as lucky as Russell’s family, who made it through the Depression with the help of family. In fact, Baker never thought his life was bad in any way, saying “Having known nothing but hard times, I had no sense of the hopes that were being destroyed or the fear in which adults lived” (120). This pleasant childhood ignorance to the Depression shows Baker’s fortune

Related Documents