Theme Of Compassion In Of Mice And Men

Powerful Essays
John Steinbeck’s novels The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men enable readers to capture a glimpse of the time of the Great Depression in the United States. In The Grapes of Wrath, the Joad family of Oklahoma, accompanied by thousands of other farming families, travels across America to chase a dream that lies in California. Their dream is to attain jobs and prosper off of their own land once again. However, they find only disappointments in California, with all of the work already taken and the poverty just as severe as it was in Oklahoma. In Of Mice and Men, the two main characters, George and Lennie, build a powerful friendship as they migrate to California for work. Out of love and compassion, George devotes himself to protecting Lennie…show more content…
Amongst the many relationships in The Grapes of Wrath, whether family bonds, friendships, or mere acquaintanceships, compassion ties the characters together. Oftentimes, the compassion is shown through sacrifice, which makes the relationships even stronger. Compassion and love for one another mean that an individual must look past the differences in others and find the things they have in common to join together. They must also put one another’s necessities in front of his or her own and consider the common benefit rather than pure self-benefit. For example, when Ma forfeits part of her family’s stew for the children in the camp, she becomes greatly selfless for those who appeared desperate for care. She explained to an upset woman, “S’pose you was cookin’ a stew an’ a bunch of little fellas stood aroun’ moonin’, what’d you do? We didn’t have enough, but you can’t keep it when they look at ya like that” (Grapes 333). Out of compassion for the hungry children, Ma’s motherly instinct told her to help them, even if it meant she would have to sacrifice her own limited food supply. Likewise, in Of Mice and Men, George sympathizes with Lennie by choosing to help Lennie rather than leave him vulnerable to the unkindness in society. When George shoots Lennie in the head before the lynch mob comes to torment him, he shows compassion for Lennie’s…show more content…
The theme of pursuing the American Dream is present in both books, although they all suffer through the destitution of living in the Great Depression. Throughout the relationships between the characters, unity is especially important, as well as compassion for one another. In the 1930s, farmers were repressed by the banks and the government. The two novels reflect upon people’s ability to unite and their strength upon doing so. The citizens, in mass numbers, have the potential to overrule corruption in the government and in banks, but the power of the people is rarely used with such intentions. If each person recognized “that companion fact: when a majority of the people are hungry and cold they will take by force what they need. And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history: repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed” (Grapes 306), then governments would no longer be so controlling in people’s lives. Steinbeck portrays that the government’s attempts to keep the people repressed only unite everyone with a common interest: being freed from repression. People also overlook their capability to resolve issues; many believe they are not influential enough, but in reality, working together is the most effective form of opposition to the government. Today, several conflicts in society could easily be fixed if every individual
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