Racial Problems In John Steinbeck's Of Mice And Men

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The book Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck takes place in the nineteen-thirties. This was an era of economic crisis. Previously prominent families were brought to their knees financially. Farmers lost their jobs, families lost their homes, and businesses were closing daily. The richest of rich became the poorest of poor, and the poorest of poor were losing the battle against starvation. The country was in a depression, and everyone was seeking superiority in any way that they could find it.
During this time of great depression, people were treated differently, or even badly, if they were not like others. Wealthy, able bodied, white men were the only favored variety of people who were not put at a disadvantage. Society was exceptionally
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In the story, the character Lennie faces the struggle of being treated differently because of his intellectual disability. George, his caretaker, often refers to him as a burden who is always getting the pair into trouble. This is clear when George tells Lennie “‘You crazy son-of-a-bitch. You keep me in hot water all the time’” (Steinbeck 11). When the two men were going to an interview for the job on the ranch, George tells Lennie, “‘You jus’ stand there and don’t say nothing. If he finds out what a crazy bastard you are, we won’t get no job’” (Steinbeck 6). George silences any of Lennie’s thoughts and opinions and lets him act as an accessory in fear that they will not receive the job. Many of the workers view Lennie as unsuitable in accompanying them to work on the ranch because a disabled man working a job in the 1930’s was nearly unheard of. Statistics display that “The overall unemployment rate for disabled people was probably upwards of 80 percent (Rosenthal).” It was virtually impossible for disabled Americans to receive jobs unless their disability was minor. Lennie’s disability is major, because he has the mentality of a small child. In place of working jobs, “millions of disabled people were subjected to forced institutionalization, sterilization, and/or death at the hands of both private and public officials” (Rosenthal). This separation from society and stripping of rights by the government reinforced the belief that people with disabilities should not be part of the work force. Though Lennie was discriminated against, it was minor discrimination compared to the barbarous actions the majority of disabled people faced. The inequality towards handicaps during this time was so powerful that they were even sentenced to death in some

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