The Great Depression was a time that the United States faced struggles and false hope. This historical event is a common topic of books because of the real hardships people faced every day during that time period. Books can greatly influence a person because of the mood and connection a reader can receive. Since books reflect real-life situations, a person can learn negative feelings or thoughts from a character or setting. One of the most infamous works that displays these undesirable views during the Great Depression is Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. Due to the negative literary merits, Of Mice and Men should be removed from the school curriculum.
Although the diction can help readers understand the time period and setting better, the word choice is foul and offensive. Through diction, Steinbeck is revealing inappropriate language to young readers. For example, when Crooks tries to ask Curley’s wife to leave, she gets mad at Crooks and tells him to “keep your place then, nigger. I could get you strung up on a tree so easy it ain’t even funny” (81). Curley’s wife calls Crooks a nigger which is an offensive name to African American people. Since Crooks is the only black man in the story, he is discriminated against by being called a nigger. Teen readers will see this racist language and start to call black people around them niggers. If this book is removed, teens might have visibility to this language, and the removal may lower racial remarks. Furthermore, the language towards women is crude. After Curley’s wife insulted Crooks, Candy told him that the “bitch didn’t oughtta of said that to you” (82). Candy was defending Crooks, but he had no right to call Curley’s wife that name. Readers will think calling someone a bad name out of revenge is the right thing to do because Candy did that to Curley’s wife. Words like bitch are a bad influence and are heard around every high school now because of the language from music, television, and books. Teenagers learn these words from books, and this story adds on to that. Also, there are offensive religious remarks using Jesus’ name in vain. When Carlson came into the dark bunkhouse, he talks about Crooks being good at horseshoes and that it is “Darker’n hell in here, he said. “Jesus, how that nigger can pitch shoes” (44). In this phrase, the word nigger is used against Crooks again, and Carlson uses Jesus’ name inappropriately to some readers. Many Christians believe that it is a sin to use Jesus’ name for the wrong reasons, and a Christian reader would be offended when seeing this. This book portrays a bad message by being disrespectful to God. Thus, the rude and harsh diction in this novel are bad influences on young readers.
Despite the fact that teenage readers can connect with the themes, there are stereotypical symbols. The symbols Steinbeck creates are invasive and attack appearance, gender, and disabilities. Namely, Curley’s wife remaining unnamed is a symbol for how women were viewed by society during that time period. Women at this time in history were looked upon as worthless, and she is thought to be useless and annoying. Many of the men on the ranch avoid her presence as they believe she is trying to flirt with them, even though, she is just lonely and looking for companionship. By making the only woman in the book seem worthless, it is an attack to women. Young readers will think that it is okay to treat women how the men treat Curley’s wife in the story. Moreover, older people and their appearance are judged in this story. Candy is a symbol for worn out