I know that there's loads of these threads but would anyone mind critiquing my OMaM answers and giving them a rough grade? The first is 20 min, with an extract, the second 40 min, no extract. I know it takes a while but I would be eternally grateful, my teacher's not being much help.
In this excerpt Curley's Wife behaves in a changeable fashion. She starts in a very flirty and promiscuous manner but slowly progresses to being sympathetic and at least somewhat amiable. Her relationship with Lennie also alters over the extract.
In the first paragraph she is described as being with "the little sausage curls all in place". On the surface this shows that she is flirtatious and attention-seeking, suggesting a general boredom with the ranch life. This is supported by the quotation as it shows how she dresses up despite being on a dusty ranch, and despite her husband not caring about her. On a deeper level this links in to a statement made by George earlier in the novel - "You remember anything if there's food in it." This is said in relation to Lennie and Lennie, while he does attempt to avoid temptation (as shown by "I ain't gonna talk to you."), becomes steadily more interested in Curley's Wife. In the harsh, anti-female ranch environment and given the context of the Great Depression, Lennie would have little else to make his carnal urges act upon. This links in to the original quote as Lennie's interest in the "sausage curls" show both Curley's Wife's femininity and flirtatiousness but also show how Lennie is deeply attracted, almost infatuated, with her, which results in her soon death. Overall, this presentation encourages the reader to see Curley's Wife as flirtatious and annoying, but also as reckless, as she is presenting herself to a powerful, carnally-led brute of a man.
However, towards the middle of the section, Curley's Wife starts to become presented as lonely. Tis is quite clearly shown when she says "I get awful lonely." This starts to tease out empathy from the reader, which is effectively done by Steinbeck despite the statement's convention-challenging contrast with all previous representations of the character. The word "lonely" here is important as it is this word which Steinbeck uses to change the reader's opinions of the character. As her loneliness unfolds, she becomes amiable, friendly and kind, as the reader's opinions of her become more and more defied. This implies that overall in the novella, anyone can change; but while all the men go from good to evil, Curley's Wife goes from evil to good. As the only female character physically present in the novella, the reader's opinions are changed and it is suggested that females, while they may seem terrible, are in fact kind but are neglected and terrorised by the 1930s American culture. I am sure that this statement is as relevant now as it was in Steinbeck's time.
In conclusion, Curley's Wife is here presented as being flirtatious at the start, but over time, the reader's opinion of her changes to a more empathetic nature, as she becomes more and more consoling and empathetic herself. On a deeper level, Steinbeck may have chosen to present her so variably in order to challenge the cultural perceptions of women in the 1930s, when he wrote the novella.
How is the character of Crooks important to the novel as a whole?
Crooks is definitely a multifaceted persona. He is kind, yet sadistic; discriminated against, yet aloof; realistic yet whimsical. He represents many ideas in the book and contributes a lot to the historical context. His race is an important part of his character and its importance lies in its portrayal of the treatment of the disabled and of minority races in the time that the novella is set in.
Crooks is first and foremost shown to be very much discriminated against. This can be seen when Curley's Wife declares "I could get you strung up on a tree so easy it ain't even funny." The word 'easy' here suggests how dangerous the life of an average black man was at the time; perils and threats lay behind every corner and even women, who were themselves persecuted at the time of the novel's writing, can discriminate against him almost lackadaisically. However, he is equally presented as 'proud' and 'aloof'. While this obviously suggests that he is proud of his origins, the contrast between 'proud' and '******', a term used often to describe Crooks, is great - it shows to the reader how Steinbeck believes that all of us should be respected - our strengths lie in different areas. Crooks' strengths are shown in his skill at playing 'horseshoes', where he is equal to the other men; this small element of hope in his life is the same small amount of kindness which protrudes from his cynical outer shell from time to time throughout the novel, which is shown in other characters also. This demonstrates how important Crooks is to the novel - he subtly shows the hope in all of us.
Crooks is also demonstrated to be disabled, not least through his rather pejorative name. The fact that we do not know his real name, and that he instead is named 'Crooks' or even just '******', shows how far these racial and ableist epithets have sunk into his personal identity. It almost suggests that he is not a 'real' person - he is in some way lesser to the other ranch-hands and thusly more expendable. For example, he alone cares for his back, while Curley is tended on by all the ranch-hands after his fight with Lennie. This demonstrates his social isolation and also his lack of opportunities. This parallels Lennie's lack of opportunities at the end of the novel - he has no choice but to die. Even if Lennie is not as isolated as Crooks, disabilities and the suffering caused by them are an integral part of both their characters. Crooks' social isolation is also shown by the fact that 'there ain't a colored man on this ranch'. This is largely symbolic of not just Crooks' isolation, but also many other characters' respective feelings of solitude. For example, Curley's Wife suffers through isolation due to her gender and Candy suffers isolation as he is the only geriatric.
Crooks is also presented as concurrently whimsical and punishingly realistic. The latter is seen far more often than the former, through quotations such as "They're all the time talking about it, but it's jus' in their head." This suggests that Crooks is largely cynical towards an oppressive world whose hardship he has suffered through for far too long. The word 'talking' is important to Crooks especially - he discusses how 'a guy needs somebody' but has no-one to talk to himself, apart from the other social pariahs of Lennie and Candy. This shows once more his social isolation but equally shows how cynical he is. He staunchly believes that dreams are impossible, and will go disturbingly far out of his way to make others share in his depression. However, this gloom and doom is temporarily alleviated when Crooks discusses with Candy and Lennie how he would like to join them on the dream farm - he would even 'work for nothing'. This is probably because Candy's well-figured plan shows how close the group of cripples are to a better life - Crooks feels that his life would be much better on the dream farm than on the sad, oppressive landscape of the ranch. However, he changes his mind after Curley's Wife becomes enraged at him. This is because he only now recalls his role as an inequal member of society. He gives up all hope of a better life and goes back to his depressing drudgery.
Some other more positive aspects of Crooks do appear. For example, he seems to be very kind-hearted at his core - Steinbeck discusses how "Crooks scowled, but Lennie's disarming smile defeated him" - and this again shows the kindness in each man's heart. Lennie, as the idiot savant, knows how to extract it. The word "defeated" shows how while it is a struggle to get into every man's thoughtful and friendly core, it is possible if one tries sufficiently hard. This contrasts with the case of Curley whom Lennie enrages but is only able to appease through his death. Crooks' kindness in this case is shown to be a good thing, which is not abundant in the historical setting. As Curley's Wife inimitably says, "You're all scared of each other, that's what." His kind and forgiving nature is also shown through his treatment of the horses who crippled him. He feels capable of forgiving them despite the anguish they have caused him. He is however characteristically cynical of his quotidian work so perhaps he has not forgiven the equine race entirely during the novel's timeframe.
In conclusion, Crooks is essential to the novel. He shows more clearly than any other character the themes of discrimination and of isolation, both of which can be extrapolated to nearly every character in the novel to some degree. Steinbeck shows a quite libertarian attitude to racial rights, which would have affected as many, if not more, readers at the time of the novel's publishing as today. He is shown as cynical and miserable and tries to inflict his pains on others, but also is shown to be happy, hopeful and kind once Lennie penetrates to his inner feelings. These factors combine to make Crooks an utterly indispensable character of the novella.
OMaM Answers Help Watch
- Thread Starter
- 15-05-2013 19:32
- 16-05-2013 08:36
Its really good, but I remember in the examiners report they said that the Lennie and Sausage curls thing was pretty far fetched.
Really good though.
- Thread Starter
- 16-05-2013 16:40
Thanks! I know it was a bit far fetched but that's how I roll.
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