The novel “Of Mice and Men” is centered around misfits and people with disabilities. It is based on a time in American history when society had hit an all-time low standard of living. Due to this fact, many people living in those times were poor, distressed and social outcasts.
It is evident however, that Steinbeck's sympathies go out to these poor, unfortunate souls. Steinbeck's style of writing depicts these time-bound misfits, the oppressed and distressed as being human beings with feelings and dreams like all other human beings.
Two major types of misfits are present in the novel. These are the disabled and the social, time-bound misfits. Lennie Small, one of the main characters of the novel, is mentally disabled, and only has one real friend. He has an unstable child-like character, and also has a tactile compulsion which gets him into trouble. Because of his psychological disabilities, he doesn't abide to society's norms. He has to depend on George to take care of him, as he is defenseless. Steinbeck shows his sympathies for Lennie by use of animal imagery when describing him, and through George's description of him.
Another character who is disabled, this time physically, is Candy, the old swamper, whose only companion is his dog. He is crippled and does not have a right hand. Steinbeck shows his sympathies towards Candy through the murder of his dog, as it renders him friendless and is indirectly the death of part of his life that was dear to him.
Due to the racial discrimination that existed in 1930's America, the misfits that were segregated from “normal” people were most commonly female or African American people. Crooks, the stable buck, is a 'Negro', the only one on the farm. His books are his only friends, he is both oppressed and distressed, and he has a very defensive character. Another characteristic he possesses is that he is sadistic, as he seems to be happiest when others suffer. Steinbeck makes use of Crooks to sympathize with the colored...