Aveneu Park, Starling, Australia

The the Great Depression. By the winter of 1932,

The novel ‘Of Mice and Men’ had been written by an American author called John Steinbeck and was first published in 1937. The novel is set in California, USA, during the Great Depression: a period of significant poverty and unemployment across the USA following the Wall Street Crash in 1929. Great Depression followed by the Wall Street Crash:When the Wall Street stock market crashed in October 1929, the world economy was plunged into the Great Depression. By the winter of 1932, America was in the depths of the greatest economic depression in its history.The number of unemployed people reached about 15 million. Many people lived in primitive conditions close to famine. They suffered from poverty, hunger and diseases as a result of the depression. Some people had to live in shacks made from scrap metal and boxes, and even in caves. Between 1 and 2 million people travelled the country desperately looking for work. Signs saying ‘No Men Wanted’ were displayed all over the country. Benefits that we are used to having access to today, like Jobseekers’ Allowance, did not exist in America at the time, so people who lost their jobs could also lose their homes and found it very difficult to buy food. During this period of failed businesses, poverty and unemployment, large groups of migrant workers came to California from other parts of America in search of work. The series of droughts, dust storms and failed crops added to the migration in the west. Men, mostly travelling alone, migrated from ranch to ranch on short term, poorly paid contracts, this being the only type of work available to them. Under the New Deal economic regeneration policy of President Roosevelt, agencies had the task of directing migrant workers to ranches and farms were work still existed. The dream of the migrant workers were to own their own piece of land and have a chance to settle down .The American economy did not fully recover until USA entered the Second World War in December 1941. ( Data collected from : http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/history/mwh/usa/walldepressionrev1.shtml )Link between The Great Depression and Of Mice and Men:One of the strongest connection between the Great Depression and Of Mice and Men is how the need for finding work is challenging for the two main characters, George and Lennie. They are introduced to us as wanderers in the novel. They wander in search of work and go wherever there is work. It seems as though they are not working as a part of their own existence but, work seems to be their existence. This is similar to the Great Depression where people struggled to find a job. Another similarity is the reality of broken dreams, dreams that people had but knew how little hope there was in achieving them. It’s is the same case with George and Lennie. Towards the beginning in the novel, we get to know about their dream of earning some money, having a house and a few animals, and for a short period of time, we start believing that there is hope that the dream will come true. However, soon the hope gets raptured when Lennie asks George if he could have some colourful rabbits to tend when they get a house and George replies ‘Sure we will’ ‘Red and blue and green rabbits, Lennie.’ instead of saying ‘brown and grey rabbits’. This shows that George has little hope in achieving their dream since he promises to let Lennie have something which is impossible to get. From this, it can be assumed that George had only said that because he knows that the dream won’t come true and so he believes that there is no harm in promising Lennie about giving him something in the improbable future. 

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