The Role Of Prejudice In John Steinbeck's Of Mice And Men

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Mahatma Ghandi once said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” This is a critical lesson that Steinbeck encourages readers to reflect on when it comes to discrimination or prejudice. Certain aspects of the American society are heavily criticized in the novella, Of Mice and Men, to express the characters as symbols rather than individual people. The novela describes a society in which it is extremely difficult to succeed in any type of vertical movement in society due to prejudice. Based on an individual’s personal insecurities and placement within different power levels, discrimination occurs based on race, age, gender and disabilities.
During the time period in which the book was written, African Americans were viewed as a minority,
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Candy is repeatedly described as “old” throughout the book, as well as having a stump for a right hand due to losing it in a ranch accident. Similarly, Candy’s dog is described as “[a] dragfooted sheepdog, gray of muzzle, with pale old blind eyes” (24). Both Candy and his dog reflect the views society has placed on the elderly and their value in the workforce during the 1930’s. Because of his age, Candy is viewed as having less social power, and is pressured to make decisions he otherwise would not have made. One example of this is when Carlson coerces Candy into shooting his dog. Even though the dog was old, Candy had him since he was a pup and had formed a companionship with him. Carlson made the argument that “[the dog] stinks to beat hell,” it was useless, and “[the] dog aint no good for himself” meaning that he would be granting the dog mercy by shooting him (45). The shooting of Candy’s dog may foreshadow Candy’s future of being let go by the ranch, and symbolize the fate of anyone who has outlived his or her purpose. The old, infirm, or disabled are not valued as much as the healthy in the world because the American society believes they lack worth. By using Candy and his dog as a symbol of ageism, Steinbeck could be revealing his belief that prejudice based on a person’s age in the American society is

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