Friday, 16 May 2008

Book of the Week - Of Mice And Men

I'm not sure what to write about this. I like this story because it's short, to be honest. However, Steinbeck's written a multi-layered story, here, set in the southern states, during the Depression era. There's exploitation of workers, with so many out of work that they have no bargaining power. There's racism. There's the anti-hero, George, who demonstrates inexplicable loyalty to Lennie. Inexplicable until one has read the book, that is.

Crooks stood up from his bunk and faced her. "I had enough," he said coldly. "You got no rights comin' in a coloured man's room. You got no rights messing around in here at all. Now you jus' get out, an' get out quick. If you don't, I'm gonna ast the boss not to ever let you come in the barn no more."

She turned to 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.

She closed on him. "You know what I could do?"

Crooks seemed to grow smaller, and he pressed himself against the wall. "Yes, ma'am."

"Well, you keep your place then, Nigger. I could get you strung up from a tree so easy it ain't even funny."

Crooks had reduced himself to nothing. There was no personality, no ego - nothing to arouse either like or dislike. He said: "Yes, ma'am," and his voice was toneless.

For a moment she stood over him as though waiting for him to move so that she could whip at him again; but Crooks sat perfectly still, his eyes averted, everything that might be hurt drawn in. She turned at last to the other two.

Old Candy was watching her, fascinated. "If you was to do that, we'd tell," he said quietly. "We'd tell about you framin' Crooks."

"Tell an' be damned," she cried. "Nobody'd listen to you, an' you know it. Nobody'd listen to you."

Candy subsided. "No," he agreed. "- Nobody'd listen to us."


Stephany said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Radagast said...

Only you could know that, I think. It's a fictional account of a time when the true nature of humanity tends to reveal itself. There were people to be exploited, and those who could, did. The horror is contained in the reality that very nearly everybody is capable of doing that: unless one can be used, one is of no interest; and the more vulnerable one's position, as perceived, the more openly one will be used, and the less one will be offered, in return for what one gives.

The moral imperative, as alluded to in one of Aubrey's recent posts "would I be prepared to live in a world where everybody does what I just did," is swept aside with "well, most people can't do what I just did, because they're not powerful enough". And that, it seems, is humanity's modus operandi: lever yourself into a position of power, such that one may behave as one really wants to behave.


Mark p.s. said...

"Well, you keep your place then, Nigger. I could get you strung up from a tree so easy it ain't even funny."

In todays world "Well you keep your place then, you crazy SOB. I could get you locked up so easy it ain't even funny"
...they are seeking help to get treatment for [(force drug and/or incarcerate)] family members and friends who have stopped taking their medication and who no longer [(recognize that they are ill)] want anything to do with them.

Radagast said...

Well, to the extent that people are afraid of being locked up and force-fed drugs, I suppose that might be a threat that had the benefit of silencing whatever dissent one wished to silence. Of course, not everybody's afraid of that sort of thing...