Of Mice and Men is a complex and well structured look into the life of a work man in the 1930s. The author, John Steinbeck, creates in his book a strong and compelling storyline that centres around two not so ordinary men, George and Lennie. The two workers lead as best a life as they can, travelling across the country to work on ranches bucking barley. Working conditions are poor, living conditions are worse, and some of the men the companions meet have suffered crippling injuries on the job. Society as a whole is completely inaccessible to the disabled or mentally challenged, unwilling to change to allow these people to live a free and enjoyable life. Lennie is himself a mentally challenged man, he has faced trials and troubles through his life, and recently lost his caretaker, Aunt Clara. He now travels with George, working jobs and doing his best not to get in trouble with the bosses. During the Great Depression, there was no room for weakness among the common workers, Lennie’s disability doomed him to a life of stigma and discrimination, tragedy was inevitable.
The lifestyle of a worker in the 30s was very different from the life that we take for granted today. Men had to travel into a town, find a job posting, and head out of the town again to get to the job location, hoping that someone else hadn’t already got there ahead of them. The wages paid were small, George and Lennie were each paid $50 a month for their work bucking barley, while men and women working full time jobs in the present earn more than that in a day. When the workers were paid their money, most of them would spend all of it on a night in town, mirroring workers on the oil rigs today. Working conditions were poor, the bosses supplied room and board most of the time, but both were normally crude and basic, just enough to satisfy requirements. Compensation was even worse, one character met in the book, Candy, had lost his hand on the job, he received $250 and another job sweeping bunk houses on the ranch. This hardly seems like fair compensation for a hand.
... was only a mediocre success in improving the quality of life for working class people. 'New Liberalism', differing slightly to Gladstonian Liberalism ... As legislation was not all-encompassing - the 'deserving poor' were workers, pensioners and children - and therefore people who couldn't find ... losing the worker's vote and had also led to a decline in the standards of living for the working class. The ...
Another trouble that had barely even been looked into in the 30s was accessibility. The world was a formidable and intimidating sight for mentally challenged and disabled individuals in that day. There was no room for them in the common work force, with the exception of people such as Candy and Crooks, who were injured on the job or had suffered only a small injury, such as a lost hand or crippled leg. It was not because bosses were cruel individuals, however, they needed to make sure they had quality workers to be getting the most out of their money, the men and women on their ranch—or wherever else the job was—had to be efficient in order to make a good income. Mentally challenged individuals, however, had almost no chance for work if their secret was revealed. Lennie was warily accepted with the help of George’s convincing, and kept because of his formidable strength. However, if George had not been there Lennie would have had no idea what to do, he couldn’t lead his own life in the Depression’s society; he needed a guide. In the present, there are homes and helpers for the mentally challenged, allowing these people as well to lead fulfilling, happy lives.
A fulfilling, happy life was not an option for a man such as Lennie in the 1930s. If Lennie had not broken Curley’s Wife’s neck, the inevitable would only have been held back. Curley’s Wife would have eventually left Curley out of frustration at being on such a tight leash, which would have made Curley more insecure than ever. He would be constantly looking for a fight, and eventually Lennie would smile at the wrong time, giggle at some unknown joke, or just not answer a question asked of him. The boss’ handy son would have found a way to be provoked, looking to regain his honour, would have picked another fight with Lennie. However, this time Curley would not be so lucky. During the fight Lennie would remember his first fight, and even though he would not want to hurt Curley, he would fight back, hurting or even killing Curley. If he was injured, the boss’ son would use his injury to provoke the killing of Lennie. If he was dead, George might have been able to encourage locking Lennie up instead of seeing him die. Either way would be a worse ending for Lennie than the one provided. This could possibly have been the best outcome for Lennie. He was with his companion George when he died. He was content with his future, happy with the prospect of getting a piece of land, and excited about his rabbit tending duties on that land. He did not expect it, and therefore could not be afraid. The only sad part of Lennie’s death was that there was no avoiding it, one way or another, Lennie was sure to meet his end prematurely.
... for the night in a river bottom. Lennie is a large, gentle mentally retarded man, devoted to George and dependant ... come home. The next day, Lennie accidentally kills his puppy in the barn. Curley's wife comes in and ... , breaking it. Slim warns Curley that if he tries to get George and Lennie fired, he will be made ... goes to the barn to do some work, and Curley, searching for his wife, goes to the barn to ...
Lennie and others facing mental challenges were left behind in the Great Depression; they were forgotten while everyone else struggled to make enough money to live. Ignored and left to their work—if they could find any—something was bound to go wrong. Even the strong and competent men struggled to make a living. Meagre pay and poor living conditions were daunting to most, and crippling to those unfortunate enough to be caught in the unsafe machines. The government was far too busy trying to repair the quickening recession to notice the inaccessibility of their world, too caught up in counter measures to start something new, however important it was. There were no chances for the weak to prosper like there are today. There were no homes for the mentally challenged, no insurance for work injuries, and nothing to counter the raging furnace of racism and discrimination. The world was harsh and unforgiving during Lennie’s life. Because of Lennie’s disability and the way society was, he was just like one of Slim’s puppies. Only the strong could survive the harsh conditions of the Great Depression, the weakened and mentally challenged were left behind, drowned in the rushing river of progress.