Steinbeck's Picture of Life on the Ranch
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I think that Steinbeck's picture of life on the ranch was mainly
pessimistic, but it still held a little hope.
The story took place in the 1930s, during the Great Depression. The
economic situation was in a terrible state. The unemployment problem
was so serious. Migrant workers from all over America came to
California. They believed that they could get their own piece of land
and settle down there quite well eventually.
Steinbeck created the ranch with people, from different backgrounds,
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People worked there must be very strong both physically and mentally. Otherwise, they were regarded as useless. Candy, who worked as a swamper, once owned a dog. However, it was quite old and was considered as useless. So, one of the workers, Carlson, insisted on shooting it. Also, on the ranch, there lived a female dog, named Lulu, who had a number of puppies. As the living condition was so bad, Lulu simply could not have enough to feed her babies. Slim, one of the workers on the ranch, felt so bitter for Lulu and the puppies. In his desperation, Slim drowned some of the puppies. Although it broke Slim and many peoples' hearts, it was better than leaving the puppies starving to death. That's why Candy feared the same thing would happen unto him when he became even older and not able to do anymore hard work. I think Steinbeck wanted to tell us that old people were not treated terribly in those days. The government then was neither civilized nor affluent enough to take care of the old and give those pensions and social securities. Consequently, many were left to die in cold or hunger. Crooks' future seemed even more pessimistic as he was isolated from the others. He lived on his own, while the others lived in the bunkhouse together, and went out together at night. Racial injustice was so serious back then. Candy and Crooks both had given up on their dreams, until they met George and Lennie. They wanted to join George and Lennie and go for their dreams once again. Yet soon they were brought back to the cruel reality because of their backgrounds and the harsh environment in the ranch.
It was cynical that some people, who had power, used their power to
exploit others and be horrible to them. Curley, the boss's son, was a
typical one. He could have had more power and respect, if he stopped
picking fights with the workers. He should also stop moaning and
bullying his wife. Steinbeck demonstrated here a pessimistic view of
the future because people behaved so badly. Curley was also one of the
people, who had no dreams. He was born to own a ranch and he thought
that he did not have to work as hard as the others did.
Curley's wife was the only female, another gloomy character,
introduced in the story. Steinbeck described her as naÃ¯ve, lonely,
flirtatious and dependent. Near the ending part, she confessed to
Lennie that she disliked Curly. She kept her flirtatious behavior
because she was lonely and she wanted to have someone she could talk
to. She once had a dream of being an actress, be famous and lead a
snobbish life. However, her dream did not come true. She blamed her
mother for disapproving her ambition and keeping the letter sent to
her from a man, who she knew from Hollywood. Then, after she had found
this out, she straight away married Curly. She became very lonely. She
had no friends and she started to make trouble for everyone. After she