Of Mice and Men belongs to the social realism genre because the story emphasizes the desperation and isolation of migrant farm workers during the Great Depression, as well as the deeper isolation and fear experienced by working-class people who are disabled (Lennie and Candy) or black (Crooks). The primary purpose of social realism is to realistically depict the harsh realities of life for working-class people and to protest this injustice. When Steinbeck wrote Of Mice and Men in the 1930s, agricultural laborers in California were facing difficult economic conditions from the Great Depression and spent their days roaming the land looking for temporary work. In Steinbeck’s novella, the property-owners produce much of the suffering for the poor laboring characters. Curley, the boss’s son, represents the corruption of these property owners as he inflicts random violence on the laborers because he knows that he can never be fired and left destitute. The gulf between working people and property-owners is underscored by the dream of land-ownership that almost every working-class character shares, reflecting the dreams of real-life laborers in Steinbeck’s world.
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