Stephanie Palmer
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Can someone please take a look at my essay if possible and give me an idea of the type of grade it could be, much appreciated (apologies it is quiet long)


In this book most of the characters are victims, explore the ways Steinbeck presents notions of the victim in relation to Lennie and Curley’s wife.


‘Of Mice and Men’ is a novel written by John Steinbeck, and is set in the 1930s America. Themes of prejudice and violence are present throughout the novel. This leads to the characters being portrayed as victims. Steinbeckportrays many of the characters in a negative way, through being presented as lonely, isolated, and victims of prejudice and abuse. This illustrates the struggles in which the characters faced during the time of the great depression. This also links to the attitudes of that time. For an example little regard towards woman or those with mental disabilities. In this essay I will discuss the ways in which Lennie and Curley’s wife are explored in notions of the victim and how this affects them within society.

Steinbeck introduces the theme of violence heavily throughout the novel. In contrast this relates to the theme of victims. Violence coheres with victims on the ranch, because it exposes the characters weaknesses and suggests their status within society. Steinbeck uses the theme of violence because it enables the perception of the characters to be clearly identified to the readers. The exposure of violence also reinforces the idea of the characters being perceived as victims. “ Dumb ******* that he is, he wants to touch ever’thing he likes’. This suggests Lennie is illustrated as a victim due to his child like behavior and his inability to be responsible or think for himself.

Lennie is one of the first characters that Steinbeck explores as being a victim. He introduces him by giving him a short description: ‘A huge man, shapeless of face, with large, pale eyes, with wide, sloping shoulders’; and he walked heavily, dragging his feet a little, the way a bear drags his paws’. The use of animal imagery is used strongly around Lennie because this heightens the idea that people saw those with mental disabilities as animals and not humans, therefore Steinbeck uses the use of animal imagery as a reference to this. Lennie also is never given responsibility and has to obey everything in which George tells him to do. “Keep your mouth shut when we talk to ranch guy”. This suggests that he is victimized because he doesn’t really have a voice or any authority other than just to obey orders.

Lennie is also misunderstood by many of the ranch workers which furthermore indicates his vulnerability on his mental state. This is shown throughout many of the chapters in the novel. For an example in Chapter two,Candy explains to George that Curley doesn’t like bigguys, because he himself is small. This infers that Lennie may be also victimized because of his size. , “Curley’s pretty handy he hates big guys”. This defers that Curley feels in fact threatened by Lennie. This is explored further in chapter three when Lennie breaks Curley’s hand.

Lennie breaks Curley’s hand simply out of fear and the reason that he doesn’t understand the ability of his own strength. Although Slim tells Curley to say he caught it in a machine, Lennie has no other reason to understand why he did it other than the fact that George told him so. “Get him Lennie”. When Curley’s hand is crushed he is essentially handicapt, and this put him in a similar position to Lennie who is mentally handicapped. Because the value of a ‘hand’ is valued on his ability to work, this angers curley more for his feelings towardsLennie and this makes him more determined to get Lennie when he kills his wife. This illustrates that the ranch workers are very intolerant towards the weak.

Lennie represents those in society with mental illnesses. Because people saw those with mental illnesses as animals and not human’s, and they are likely to be locked up. Steinbeck references this at the end of the novel when George asks if he could just be locked up. Lennie is explored in many ways as a victim throughout the novella. Steinbeck reinforces this with the ideas of the attitudes throughout the American society. Lennie is killed by George because he knows this would be the best choice for Lennie, because he would no longer be safe within society.


Curley’s wife is also another character, which Steinbeck explores as being a victim. Curley’s wife is a victim of abuse from her husband Curley and Loneliness as she is rejected from everyone on the ranch. Steinbeck has always introduced the character as only Curley’s wife, she is not known by anything other that that, as she doesn’t have a name. This portrays the theme of sexism, as she’s not valued as a person and only as a possession or object of curley. This suggests that woman were inferior. Steinbeck wants the readers to recognize the inferior role of woman throughout the American society. The novel is a Microcosm, a cross section of society reflecting the prejudice. Woman had very little rights, which is why there was little regard towards woman. She is excluded for being a female, which furthermore perceives her as being a victim.


She longs for attention and resorts to sexual attractiveness to obtain this. “Think I don’t like to talk to somebody’ ever, once in a while. This illustrates the concept of loneliness. It is also explored further because the ranch workers know that Curley beats up his wife, but do nothing about it because she’s curleys property. The theme of loneliness is shown by her red lipstick and hanging around in doorways. She always tries to get the attention, but she in not welcomed into the lives of others. Because she is Curley’s wife, she has to do what he wants her to do, and always is confined to the house and no place other than that. Curleys wife only wants attention but as she doesn’t get it. This shows that she is a victim of the attitudes and lifestyles in American society. In the novel she explains that she has her own American dream, which was to be an actress. “ An a guy tol’ me he could put me in the pitchers”. This suggests she is a victim of not achieving her dream. It can also be suggested that she uses her beauty to tempt the other men on the ranch. “ She wears too much makeup and dresses like a *****, with red fingernails and red shoes with ostrich feathers’ . The strong contrast of the colour red can suggest that Curley’s wife is heading for danger at the end of the novel which is foreshadowed when she is killed by Lennie. This also occurs when Lennie had that incident in weed, as the girls dress was also red. The coulour red symbolizes that events in the novel are going to take a turn for the worse.

In Conclusion Steinbeck explores both Lennie and Curley’s wife as being victims. They are portrayed in different ways in order to make the readers aware of the social conflicts that arose during the 1930’s. Lennie and Curley’s wife are both subjected to vulnerability which makes their situation as victims more prominent.
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