Of Mice and Men – Task Fourteen

“This is just a nigger talkin’, an’ a busted-back nigger. So it don’t mean nothing, see?”

Crooks is characterized as man who knows his opinion will not be listened to. He is bitter because he has spent most of his life being ignored because he is black.


“They left all the weak ones here,” she said finally.

Curley’s wife’s summary of the three characters is unpleasant, biting and hurtful, but in the world of Of Mice and Men, it is entirely accurate. Crooks, Candy and Lennie are all weak, and they are the characters most likely to suffer in a world that does not care about the weak.


She turned on him in scorn. “Listen, Nigger,” she said. “You know what I can do to you if you open your trap?”

Crooks stared hopelessly at her, and then he sat down on his bunk and drew into himself.

This is an unexpectedly unsympathetic side of Curley’s Wife. She is racist and is prepared to scream rape in order to have Crooks lynched and killed. Crooks understands that she has more power than him, so remains silent.


“Awright,” she said contemptuously. “Awright, cover ‘im up if ya wanta. Whatta I care? You bindle bums think you’re so damn good. Whatta ya think I am, a kid? I tell ya I could of went with shows. Not jus’ one, neither. An’ a guy tol’ me he could put me in pitchers…” She was breathless with indignation. “—Sat’iday night. Ever’body out doin’ som’pin’. Ever’body! An’ what am I doin’? Standin’ here talkin’ to a bunch of bindle stiffs—a nigger an’ a dum-dum and a lousy ol’ sheep—an’ likin’ it because they ain’t nobody else.”

Curley’s Wife is bitter and resentful that she is ignored by the men. She believes that she deserves a better life, and that life on the ranch is draining her of company. She is downhearted because she feels she is “reduced” to speaking to the weak characters because none of the other men will have anything to do with her.


“I seen hunderds of men come by on the road an’ on the ranches, with their bindles on their back an’ that same damn thing in their heads. Hunderds of them. They come, an’ they quit an’ go on; an’ every damn one of ‘em’s got a little piece of land in his head/ An’ never a God damn one of ‘em ever gets it. Just like heaven. Ever’body wants a little piece of lan’. I read plenty of books out here. Nobody never gets to heaven, and nobody gets no land. It’s just in their head. They’re all the time talkin’ about it, but it’s jus’ in their head.”

Crooks is cynical. He does not believe that any men achieve their dreams. His long experience of men on the ranch have convinced him that a better world is not possible. He even goes so far as to claim that heaven is not real. His difficult life have reinforced this idea, and he is dismissive of anyone who believes they can achieve their dreams of owning their own land.



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