Of Mice and Men Analysis: John Steinbeck's Social Criticism

Published in 1937, Of Mice and Men is a novella written by John Steinbeck to illustrate the social concerns during the Great Depression, especially with racial discrimination. With the onset of the economic crisis, racial discrimination contributed to the hostility and higher unemployment rate for blacks, so they were the “last hired and first fired”.

In Of Mice and Men, Steinbeck explores the psychological impacts and impossibility of escaping racial discrimination by depicting the marginalization and isolation of black migrant workers in culture and society through their inferior societal roles, especially with Crooks.

Of Mice and Men

By John Steinbeck

Crooks Character Analysis

Crooks is the most marginalized and isolated character in Of Mice and Men, as explored by his namelessness and desire for companionship.

Crooks is identified only by his skin color and job, nicknamed “the nigger” as an offensive slur and “Crooks” because “he’s got a crooked back where a horse kicked him”. His namelessness makes his condition indistinguishable from other blacks during the Great Depression to display the normality of encountering racial discrimination as part of their daily language.

of mice and men (1992) film crooks character

When Lennie visits Crooks’ room, Crooks demands Lennie he has “got no right to be in [his] room” despite Lennie’s smile “in an attempt to make friends”. Crooks’ overprotectiveness indicates he is willing to fight for his few rights because his room is his only space with control and freedom.

However, Crooks lets Lennie in his room when he expresses his jealousy of George and Lennie’s companionship because “a guy gets too lonely and he gets sick”. Consequently, Steinbeck reveals Crooks’ bitter treatment of others like Lennie is a psychological impact resulting from the crippling marginalization and isolation from racial discrimination.