Common Themes In Of Mice And Men And The Grapes Of Wrath

1349 words - 6 pages

Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath, written by John Steinbeck, the winner of 1962 Nobel Prize for Literature, both depict the harsh living conditions and challenging hardships migrant farm workers had to face during the period of Great Depression. In the novella Of Mice and Men, two men with the names George and Lennie travel to hunt ranch jobs in California, in the hopes of having a farm of their own one day. However, Lennie is mentally retarded and always stirs up trouble, eventually leading to George’s mercy killing of Lennie, an action that terminates the pursuit of their American Dream. In the latter novel, the Joad family, like many other poor tenant farmers from Oklahoma, is ...view middle of the document...

For hunger and fat. Whyn't you go back where you come from?”(Chapter 12 GOW) The attendant is aware that California is becoming overcrowded with migrants, and it is because of his selfishness and xenophobic attitude that catalyze such cold scold. In Of Mice and Men, it is not so much about the rich versus the poor as the strong versus the weak, an alternative form that shows humans’ inhumanity towards others. As Crooks stands up from his bunk and tells Curley’s wife that she is not welcomed in his room, Curley’s wife viciously threatens him, “Well, you keep your place then, Nigger. I could get you strung upon a tree so easy it ain’t even funny.” (Chapter 4 OMAM) The attack from Curley’s wife shows that she tries to gain a sense of power by suppressing the people below her, even when she knows that she is powerless in a society that is dominated by men. The cruelty of men can be spotted throughout both of the novels, and Steinbeck sets it as one of the main themes to convey the idea that we should rethink about our own actions to eliminate unnecessary harms toward others.

The American Dream cannot be achieved alone, and Steinbeck emphasizes this idea by repeating the theme of the powerful nature of family and fellowship in both of the novels. The word “Together” appears 83 times in The Grapes of Wrath, and it is clear Joad Family is in no position to get to California without the cohesive family structure of their own. Ma Joad “walk[s] for the family and [holds] her head straight for the family”(Chapter 13 GOW) as she always insists that the family must stay together, acting as a pillar to support the family in hard times. In addition, migrant families were able to endure the harsh circumstances of life on the road by uniting with other families, as seen when “the twenty families became one family, the children were the children of all. The loss of home became one loss, and the golden time in the West was one dream.” (Chapter 17 GOW) On the side of Route 66, families have bonded together to form the one weapon that defends them from the merciless reality of the world. The theme of fellowships is also found in Of Mice and Men when George explains, "Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world. They got no family. They don't belong no place.” (Chapter 1 OMAM) This quote shows the readers the feelings of loneliness and instability that migrant farm workers without families have to endure. However, George and Lennie are different. They have a future. They have somebody to talk to that “gives a damn about [them].”(Chapter 1) It is only because of this close relationship they have that makes the American Dream seems possible to achieve for them. In the end of the book, George shoots Lennie in the back of the head,...

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