Social Hierarchy In John Steinbeck's 'Of Mice And Men'

427 Words2 Pages
hroughout all of human history social standings have been determined by a hierarchy. John Steinbeck examines the social hierarchy in his novella, Of Mice and Men . The story is set on a ranch in the 1930’s and follows two migrant workers named George and Lennie, who work on a ranch in Salinas, California. There is a hierarchy among the residents on the ranch, and each individual’s ranking is determined by social status. Using the character of Curley’s wife, the only woman on the ranch, Steinbeck reveals how women are segregated from society furthering his argument that the social hierarchy is determined by factors created by society.
Curley’s wife is never given a name in order to show how women are devalued in society. When Lennie and George arrive at the ranch they speak to Candy, a ranch hand. George asks Candy about another one of the workers named Curley, and Candy mentions Curley is recently married. He refers to
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When Crooks, Candy, and Lennie are left behind while the other men go out to the town, they discuss the dream of owning their own ranch someday. When Curley’s wife enters the room, the entire atmosphere changes. Crooks tells Curley’s wife, “You ain’t wanted here. We told you you ain’t wanted here (Steinbeck 77).” This implies that Crooks believes that the men are above her. Even among the lowest tier of the pyramid there is still a struggle to hold power over others. It further separates her from everyone else on the ranch. The stereotypes given to women by society are what segregate them further.
Curley’s wife shows the extent to which women are alienated, proving that the social norms society creates are what segregate people from it. Women are dehumanized, objectified, and isolated because of the typecasts society puts in place. These ideals are stereotypes, which cause a system of ranking among people. The social hierarchy uses labels in order to decide a person’s social
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