Honors English 9-7
3 October 2018
“Prejudices are chains formed by ignorance to keep men apart.”(Marguerite Gardiner). Most characters in John Steinbeck’s Of Mice And Men are the subject of prejudice. The main characters, George and Lennie are laborers working in Salinas Valley, California in the 1930s. George is eager to pursue his dreams but this is often obstructed by Lennie’s ignorant actions and the prejudices following him. Through these two and other supporting characters, Steinbeck communicates a profound theme that through prejudice a sense of isolation, anger, and great conflicts can be produced.
Prejudice has the immense power to create a sense of isolation. Lennie has been the subject of prejudice due to his intellect and his child-like ignorance. In the bunkhouse on the ranch that the two have been employed at, Slim, a fellow laborer, and George are discussing Lennie as a worker when George proudly says, ” ‘Jus tell Lennie what to do an’ he’ll do it if it don’t take no figuring.’ ” (Steinbeck, 39). George is degrading Lennie by saying that he is only capable of something that doesn’t require brain power. The way George speaks of Lennie influences the other men to feel the same way. Due to this, the others develop a prejudice toward Lennie and he becomes isolated. The stable buck on the ranch, Crooks, has also been subject to prejudice his whole life due to the color of his skin. When Lennie enters Crooks’ living quarters, Lennie and Crooks begin to bicker over whether Lennie belongs in Crooks’ domain. Crooks begins to discuss issues with deeper societal roots. Lennie doesn’t comprehend this and probes crooks, ” ‘Why ain’t you wanted?’ Lennie asked. ‘Cause I’m black. They play cards in there, but I can’t play because I’m black.’ ” (Steinbeck, 68). Crooks has been treated terribly due to the color of his skin and has built up accepted isolation. Although Lennie’s intentions are not cruel , Crooks is unable to sense this due to years of experiencing prejudice and hatred. Clearly, prejudice causes the receiving party to feel a sense of isolation, and no good comes out of the isolation created.
Anger can be a product of prejudice.
Prejudice has the ability to cause greater conflicts among society or among those directly subject to it. Prejudice undeniably leads to a greater conflict that is unnecessary.
When Marguerite Gardiner so brilliantly said, “Prejudices are chains formed by ignorance to keep men apart.” she had obviously seen prejudice similar to that currently occuring in our society and that described in Of Mice And Men. In John Steinbeck’s novel it can be clearly observed that a sense of isolation, anger, and greater conflicts can be produced from prejudice. As prejudice is a preconceived idea not based from actual experience, many of the conflicts in Of Mice And Men as well as our society would not exist if we processed facts without referring to inaccurate opinions formed by others.