In John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, Crooks is a decidedly lonely character. Despite being a California native, Crooks was consistently depicted as if he were an outsider. He is all too aware that his skin color is the only thing that impacts the way he is viewed by and separated from what he believes should be his peers. When Crooks provides Lennie with a hypothetical, “S’pose you couldn’t go back into the bunkhouse … ’cause you was black” and explains that, “A guy needs somebody … he goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody” (72), he communicates the agonizing loneliness from which he derives feelings of isolation and an overwhelming lack of stimulation. Lennie’s brief interaction with Crooks reveals how prominent the racism was in that setting. Once Crooks begins to speak with and teasingly torment Lennie, we realize the kind of spitefulness that undeniably occurs after being segregated and prejudiced against for so long. Crooks suggests that “George gets killed or hurt so he can’t come back” (71), consciously poking at a sore spot at Lennie’s, which was further proven when Crooks “bored in on him” and said “… They’ll tie you up with a collar, like a dog” (72), clearly being aggressive toward Lennie. There is a direct correlation between loneliness and aggressive behavior, being that the former almost always prompts the latter. This is exactly what we see here. In that scene after Candy enters the room, conversation progresses to the dream farm and how Crooks even wants to join them. However, all of Crook’s emotions are immediately invalidated once Curley’s Wife enters the room. Crooks had had enough of her and attempted to tell her to leave his room, but she refused and retaliated, evoking feelings of supposed emotional indifference from Crooks when she threatened him by saying things such as “Listen nigger … You know what I can do if you open your trap”(80), suggesting she can get him lynched or do whatever else she pleases with him, further labeling him as a worthless black man.  She demolished Crooks’s entire set of desires and feelings, and put him, as a black man, back into his place as worse than a white woman. After this occurred, Crooks wass immediately shocked back into his reality of being what was then considered a worthless black man. He says that he had “forgotten himself” (82), because of how pleasantly the men had treated him, but soon readjusted to his role as inferior to everyone else on the ranch. As rapidly as he got inspired by their dream, he just as quickly gives it up, even going as far as to tell Candy that he was “Jus’ foolin'” (83,) when addressing being concerned about his own freedom and happiness.


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