The common American tragedy, Of Mice and Men, written by John Steinbeck, takes place in Southern California. Two men, George and Lennie are partners throughout the novel and they want to make their dream of becoming rich come true. Lennie is a big man, with an incredible amount of strength. Unfortunately he doesn't know how or when to use it considering that he has a mental disability. It is like that he doesn't have a brain, his brain is George himself. George is a small, skinny clever man who guides Lennie throughout this novel. Steinbeck portrays a bleak view of life in every regard. He portrays this viewpoint through the means of setting, character, and morality.
Although the story takes place in the thriving state of California, this novel starts off in the fields, near a river. There is no city or a mass population near this field; it's just a plain county.
The majority of the novel takes place at the ranch where workers have no choice but to follow the orders of their boss. The ranch workers all seem very poor and simple. The story starts and ends in the same point, which is the river. This shows that the story never really took place in many places; in fact the majority of the scenes were close to the river.
Steinbeck portrays bleakness through his view of the characters. One of the key sources is of racial discrimination, which is pointed towards Crooks. Because he is Black he does not work with the other men, instead working in the stable. He is not even allowed to enter the bunkhouse, let alone sleep there; instead he sleeps in the harness room. He knows he is not welcome in the bunkhouse, saying things like "I ain't welcome in the bunkhouse" (66). This shows how low he is placed in the social hierarchy in the South. Steinbeck shows Crooks hopeless in the fight for equal rights. He always showed him depressed and felt that he was beaten. Steinbeck also portrays his bleak view of life by showing that nobody has anything to look up to. Nobody on the ranch has a family that they ever mention about. On top of that, they only make $50 a month, which is barely enough money to buy essential items for life. The $50 a month shows that ranch workers will remain ranch workers their whole life. They won't be making any money or making progress in life.
Morality is also something that Steinbeck shows bleak life through. The novel tells us that not everybody can live the American Dream. The American dream today is all about money and fame, but to Lennie and George it was to buy a farm and sustain for themselves. However, they were never able to accomplish that dream of theirs. It died the minute George shot Lennie. Also, to Curly's wife it was to become a movie star one day. However, she never was able to make it to the movies, so she ended up marrying Curly, and now regrets it. The American dream comes true for some people, but for many it just merely dies.
John Steinbeck's novel, Of Mice and Men, is great in every regard. With the great dialect he puts into each character he made a story seem true and like the reader was actually there. The bleak viewpoints that Steinbeck established throughout the book are symbols that show how organized this novel is. Steinbeck didn't leave any place to not put bleakness, he puts it in through the setting, characters, and even the morality of the novel has bleakness. This novel really depicts the true meaning of bleak, and should be taught to all mature high school students.
Bibliography:Of Mice and Men. (2009, May 4). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 03:12, May 4, 2009, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Of_Mice_and_Men&oldid=287762239