Camaraderie in The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men
The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men, two novels published concurrently by John Steinbeck, both depict camaraderie between dust bowl migrants. The main characters in Of Mice and Men, George and Lennie, form a bond, while struggling to reach their goal, a small farm. Similarly, Jim Casy of The Grapes of Wrath befriends Tom Joad, a friendship eventually uplifting the whole migrant community. Outwardly, the two relationships may seem to parallel each other. In reality, these alliances differ greatly. Consequently, in Of Mice and Men, friendship leads to destruction, in The Grapes of Wrath, salvation. Starkly contrasting George and Lennie's relationship in Of Mice and Men to Tom and Jim Casy's in The Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck unquestionably shows that camaraderie decides an individual's fate.
To begin, George and Lennie interact quite differently from Tom and Casy; the former share a master-slave relationship, while the latter, a more equal relationship. For instance, George orders Lennie to “say nothing”(6), upon reaching the ranch where they will work, fearing that if “[the boss] finds out what a crazy bastard [Lennie is], [they] won't get no job”(6). Lennie obeys. Later on, when Lennie innocently calls Curley's wife, the flirtatious daughter-in-law of the ranch owner, “purty”(32), George fiercely admonishes Lennie to not “even look at that bitch”(32), once again demonstrating a master-slave relationship. In contrast, Tom and Casy, engage in an equal relationship; in fact, Tom candidly tells Casy, a one-time preacher, now philosopher, his opinion of Casy's philosophy, throughout The Grapes of Wrath. For example, when Casy explains to Tom his idea that “...maybe all men got one big soul ever'body's a part of...”(33), Tom openly replies, “you can't hold no church with idears like that”(33). Moreover, Casy never forces Tom to do anything, contrasting their relationship to George and Lennie's relationship. Actually, at the conclusion of The Grapes of Wrath, Casy only requests Tom to “ ...tell the folks [in the ranch] how it is...Tell em their starvin' [the protesters] an' stabbin' theirself in the back”(523); Tom replies “I'll try to get to tell the folks”(523). Clearly, Tom and Casy's equal relationship sets them apart from George and Lennie's master-slave interaction. These relationships, in turn, decide the fate of the respective characters.
Not only do the relationships contrast each other, they also shape the people involved differently. In The Grapes of Wrath, Tom Joad transforms from self-centered person to a martyr for all “Okie”(280) people, because of his companionship with Casy. Initially, a very hedonistic Tom remarks, “ Maybe I should of been a preacher...I been a long time without a girl”(31). This self-indulgent outlook gives way to a broader, all-encompassing attitude, as Casy's philosophy influences him. Before leaving his family, in the...