Of Mice and Men: How Has Life Changed for the Disabled?

An summary of how has live changed since the dirty 30s for the disabled in comparison with the book, Of Mice and Men.

The way we treat people with disabilities today is very different from how they were treated in the dirty 30s. Conditions have improved from what was described from the book, Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck. Although we don’t treat the disabled exactly the same as we treat people who are not affect by disabilities, things have improved. We now have public areas that are easily accessible by people who are handicapped. The Canadian Charter of Human Rights states that people who are disabled should hold equal status as everyone else. Unfortunately in the book, Candy, Lennie and Crooks held a lower status than the other men on the farm.

The first example found in the book is the treatment of people of old age. Candy and his dog are both weak and crippled but were never respected by the other men on the ranch. In the 1930s, people of old age were considered almost useless but nowadays, we try to help them blend in with the other people in the society and help them as much as we can. From the book, we know that Candy does not hold equal status as the other men on the ranch because he was not able to participate in the same activities (Horse Shoe Throwing). Although seniors of today do not live as well as “regular” people, they have better living conditions than old people in the dirty 30s. We have developed senior homes for the older aged people and they are taken care of well unlike in the dirty 30s where seniors were looked upon as the useless.

The treatment of old age citizens was not considered bad if you were to compare them with life in the dirty 30s for disabled African American Men. According to the book, Crooks is an African American Men with a broken back that still has to work just as hard as the other men at the ranch without pay. It is as if no one even notices that he has an injury but because he has dark skin, he has to work. Today, people are treated equally regardless of race in the law but this was obviously not true in the 1930s. Crooks had to do more work than the other men but was treated worse even with a bad back. Racism was a big issue and for the African American people so even if you were disabled, nobody would care just because you looked a certain way.

Lennie Small is a strong physical character with the mind of a child. He suffers from mental disabilities and can’t think on his own. In the book, Lennie is often bullied by others on the ranch. Both George (when they were younger) and Curley tried to physically hurt him. Crooks, the black man on the ranch, tried to scare Lennie to make himself feel better. In the 30s, the mentally disabled people were sometimes sent to the Insane Asylums where they did experiments to try to help them get better. Of course, this attempt was not successful and many of them ended up getting worse in health. Since then, the living conditions and how we treat the handicapped have improved. They are no longer discriminated under the law so they attend schools and participate in recreational activities just like a “regular” person would. Unfortunately, we sometimes look at them differently when we compare the psychologically disabled to an ordinary person. The way we treat the disabled have not entirely adapted but has certainly improved.

In conclusion, the way we treat people who are disabled today is very different from what it was like for them in the time the book was written. Candy, Crooks and Lennie were all either handicapped physically or mentally. They are just normal people who want to be treated like everyone else. It was unfortunate that in the dirty 30s, the disabled people were considered useless, defected and irregular. The book, Of Mice and Men, gives an excellent description of the life of the cognitively delayed. Their life compared to our treatment to them today has been significantly improving, and more progress is still being made. Hopefully in the future, the discrimination we have against old age, racism and the mentally disabled will be completely omitted.

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32 Comments
  1. salem
    Posted April 1, 2008 at 2:13 am

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  2. sweetpotato
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  3. anon
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  4. sweetpotato
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  5. vicky
    Posted October 29, 2008 at 11:46 am

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  9. CrazyJ
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  10. Ally
    Posted May 19, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    Wow! This conversation was posted weeks ago and it really helped me for my research paper of the novel Of Mice and Men. I have to do a comparrison on the handicap and disabled from the 1930s and compare it to now days. I was just surfing the internet on this situation and I ended up to a great start. The information and the sources were very useful. Thanks!

  11. Posted May 20, 2009 at 9:13 pm

    Thanks everyone for your comments. I hope the article was helpful and interesting to readers.

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  16. THANK YOU!!!
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  17. Crazycherrycola
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  18. Posted April 9, 2010 at 3:01 pm

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  19. Danielle
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  20. Kyla
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  21. nvislfjl
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  22. Sumowrestler
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  23. thank u
    Posted January 27, 2011 at 12:31 am

    thank u it helped me too iam doing 1 page essay i only had one paragraph in the beginning but with ur help i got it done thank u cuz i just started reading the book im on chapter 1 and i have to take a quiz also thanks again!(:

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  25. dave
    Posted May 14, 2011 at 10:28 am

    I have a big problem with OM&M – the narrative is constructed in such a way that it offers sympathy toward Lennie but we are left with no other option that to see that it is better for all (society and himself) that he is dead, there is no other option on offer. The sympathy is important because it salves our conscience; we don’t want him dead because we “hate” him, we want him dead because “we care”. Which I think is quite dishonest. It offers the idea that the mentally handicapped are a danger not only because they have no self control but because their will can be so easily control (George tells him to crush Curley’s hand) but the harsh reality is that mentally handicapped people are far far more likely to be victims than abusers… it’s just that whenever the abuser is handicapped it is usually given far more media coverage. Quite a dangerous book when times are hard and we have to make choices as to who gets fed?

  26. Posted November 28, 2011 at 8:58 am

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  27. Camilla lawson
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  28. Jack Black
    Posted November 28, 2011 at 9:15 am

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  29. CatMan
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  30. Posted January 9, 2012 at 12:47 am

    omgg !! you are a life saver. i had to do a essay on this and i was stuck for a long timeeeee.. thankssss :) . but i cant properly cite this , you could of had your name on it ..

  31. Posted September 21, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    I’m black

  32. Posted November 20, 2012 at 8:51 pm

    Thank you really helped with my paper!!!

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