Exploring the character of crooks and racial prejudice in the novella, ‘Of Mice and Men’
In the novella ‘Of Mice and Men’ the character of Crooks is subject to constant racial discrimination. This shows the time period of the book as 1930’s America was a very prejudice place. Although slavery has been abolished some 90 years previously living conditions were still awful and even worse for some black Americans. They were segregated with poorer facilities, people wouldn’t employ them and living conditions were just generally awful for most. The work situation was not helped by the ‘Wall Street Crash’ in 1929. The collapse of the banks and stocks meant the many were out of work and so any and every job and far too many applicants. So, what with all the white people wanting jobs, a black person’s chances getting a job were even smaller than the small number of chances before.
Crook, the only black character in ‘Of Mice and Men’, is immediately put in a disadvantaged position. Steinbeck immediately makes it very clear that Crooks is black in quotations such as ‘Sure. Ya see the stable buck’s a nigger.’ This being the first time we hear about Crooks in the novella and the reference to him as ‘a nigger’ instead of ‘Crooks’ instantaneously puts him at a disadvantage as the only character, so far, without a name.
Crooks that experiences isolation because the society in which he resides is racist. The quote “A guy goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody. Don’t matter no difference who the guy is, longs he with you. I tell ya a guy gets too lonely an he gets sick” was his way of finding a personal connection to Lennie. Like Lennie, Crooks has a ‘relationship’ with loneliness. Crooks is rejected from every group of people and cannot socially interact with others properly due to this rejection. It could be suggested that, when he see’s Lennie’s similar inability to interact with society, that he lets down his hostile guard a little. This is evident in the quotation ‘Crooks.