The Great Depression was a hard time in American history. During the Depression many people struggled to have enough money to survive and have basic necessities like food, water, and shelter. The novella, of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, takes place during the great depression. Lennie Smalls and George Milton have to face situations that were very common during the 1930’s. John Steinbeck’s novella closely relates to the many issues present in the 1930’s.The great depression took place throughout the entire novella and racism was a major factor in the book that makes a substantial impact on what the main characters do.
The two main characters George and Lennie were greatly affected by the many obstacles that took place during the great depression. One example of the Great depression is shown when George is emptying out his bag. George has very little things in his possession. All he has is “a bottle of pills, a comb, razor, soap, liniment (pain relieving liquid that rubs on your body), and a leather wristband” (Steinbeck 21).The reasons for this is to travel lightly and because they can’t afford many things. “Sure we are, if you gather up some dead willow sticks. I got three cans of beans in my bindle. You get the fire ready. I’ll give you a match when you get the sticks together. Then we’ll heat up the beans and have supper” (Steinbeck 8).This example of the great depression shows that people had very little to live off of. George and Lennie had to make a fire to cook there food because they had no other way of cooking it. Also they needed the fire because they didn’t have any lights. Lennie and George are migrant workers. Because of the depression, many people were out of work and in order to find jobs they would travel in search of work. One example is in the beginning of the book. Lennie and George just got of a bus from a different town going to their next job at the ranch (Steinbeck 4). John Steinbeck’s description of Lennie and George closely relates to what real people went though doing the great depression.
The great depression affected the entire nation during the 1930’s. A Substantial amount People migrated from their homes in search for work because of the 30 percent unemployment rate in America during the Great Depression. Many left their families, houses, and belongings. They worked for very little pay, barley enough to survive and have necessities (Lamb, Annette and Johnson, Larry). People brought what they could carry with them. In 1929 the stock market crash lead to a 30 percent unemployment rate. Therefore people had to travel to look for jobs. Most traveled to California because of the variations of growing seasons. For example, when oranges were out of season, potatoes would be ready to harvest. These accounts compare to Of Mice and Men because they take place during the same time period of the great depression. Also during that period racial segregation was a major issue in America. Racism affected the way the characters interact with each other a substantial amount.
One example of racism is that Crooks sleeps in the barn away from the other white workers. The white people considered crooks to be an animal. He was the only African American person working on the ranch (Steinbeck 73). Crooks was out casted away from the other workers because of his heritage. “Guys don’t come into a colored man’s room very much. Nobody’s here but slim. Slim an’ the boss” (Steinbeck 82). Most people don’t associate with African Americans because it’s not socially acceptable. People would look down upon African Americans and would barely talk to them. Another example of racism is that the workers on the farm and the boss call crooks “Stable buck”. They call him stable buck as a sign of disrespect and believe he isn’t deserving of a name (Steinbeck 22). Racial segregation in real life was very similar to Steinbeck’s description. Racial discrimination in real life during the 1930s made it hard to be an African American. Racism is when you discriminate against others because of their ethnicity. African Americans were outcastes in society.
It was unaccepted able to be talking to a person not of your race. Most places had separate but not equal facilities (Linder). People didn’t associate with black people. It was an embarrassment to them. Most white people left African Americans to their own business. Also African Americans are paid less because of their race (Jack, Kevin, Justin). As a sign of disrespect white people would not call Africans by there name, but what they do in the workplace. Also African Americans would be called racial slurs. A common slur used for African American people in the 1930’s was “expletive”.
Racial segregation in real life was very similar to Steinbeck’s description. John Steinbeck’s novel closely relates to the many issues present in the 1930’s.The great depression took place throughout the entire novella and makes a large impact on what the main characters do. Also racism was an important factor in the book. The Great Depression changed the way people acted and their way of life in both the novella and real life. Racial discrimination affects the way that the characters act around each other. Racism and the Depression made an impact on the main characters George and Lennie, but also affected Americas past and present.
Jack, Kevin, Justin. “Growing up black in the Great Depression” Growing up black. Think quest. 1 Jan 1997 Web. 11 Apr 2011
Lamb, Annette, and Larry Johnson. “The Great Depression.” The great depression. 42explore, 1 Sep 2002. Web. 9 Apr 2011
Linder, Doug. “Separate but Equal” ” UMKC School of Law.
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Steinbeck, John. Of Mice and Men. New York: Penguin books