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The Treatment And Lives Of The Mentally Handicapped In The 1930’s And As Depicted In John Steinbeck’s Of Mice And Men

1147 words - 5 pages

“Intellectual disability or mental retardation is one of the most common disabilities” (Harbour). In the 1930’s, the mentally handicapped were not given a good reputation. In Of Mice and Men, we learn that Lennie Small is mentally handicapped, and by seeing how the mentally handicapped were treated in mental hospitals, how they lived their everyday life, and their denial of rights, their lives were both similar and different to Lennie’s in the 1930’s.
How the mentally handicapped were treated in mental hospitals often depended on how much money the family had and was willing to pay for the care of a family member who was mentally handicapped. Across America, mental health care was usually ...view middle of the document...

Most mentally handicapped people were either privately cared for, locked in rooms, or restrained (Wilson). Their lives were very difficult because they were often blamed for things such as poverty, illness, and crime (Harbour). This became an everyday occurrence because new technology was advancing quickly and the mentally disabled could not grasp onto the new technology. The only person that made fun of Lennie at the ranch was Curley, the Boss’s son. Candy said,”Curley’s like a lot of little guys. He hates big guys. He’s alla time picking scrapes with big guys. Kind of like he’s mad at ‘em because he ain’t a big guy,” (Steinbeck 26). When the United States started to rely more on people’s intelligence and less on people’s physical strength that is when life worsened for people who were mentally handicapped (Harbour). Soon some people thought that mental illness could be passed down from a mother to her son or daughter. “Consequently, great attention was focused on eliminating the possibilities for PWID, people with intellectual disorders, and others to reproduce so as to select out heritable traits that were undesirable” (Harbour).
“Despite the extension of civil rights to an increasingly broad cross section of Americans, who’s traits or behavior make them unpopular, one large group continues to be denied most basic rights- citizens committed to mental hospitals,” (Ginsberg). The mentally handicapped would usually not do anything to break and violate the law. Mentally handicapped people were not even tried in courts for crimes they had committed. However, if a mentally handicapped person was lucky enough to be tried in courts for their crime, the person was denied of free legal services. For the most part, many judges had the idea that people who were mentally handicapped were less likely to do anything very dangerous. Americans even had the idea that the mentally handicapped were less dangerous than criminals themselves (Ginsberg). In Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, we see this belief that the mentally handicapped were less dangerous than criminals were exemplified. The first is when we learn the real reason why George and Lennie left their former job in Weeds. It turns out that Lennie was attracted to a lady’s red dress and when he went to touch, it the girl got scared and...

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