University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Of mice and men & An inspector calls
“Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery”- Winston Churchill Winston Churchill thinks that socialism is a philosophy of failure however John Steinbeck author Of Mice and Men & JB Priestly author of An Inspector Calls would say that capitalism creates the failure in society not socialism. Both authors create a microcosm to show us how society was like at the time. This is called social realism. The two texts show how rich people are quick to take advantage of the poor and the vulnerable. The book of mice of men was written in 1937, by John Steinbeck. This book is set in 1930’s California, Salinas valley also known as south Soledad. It was after the war and after the Wall Street crash this is when everybody lost their jobs and became bankrupt. Everyone moved to South California to look for jobs on ranches to fulfil the “American dream “another reason why everybody had to move to South California is because of the Dust bowl also known as the Dirty Thirties due to the fact it was during the 1930’s. The dust bowl is a period of ruthless dust storms which affected America’s agriculture and ecology.
The dust storms were caused by a long period of drought and years of bad farming techniques that caused such things as soil erosion. The weak soil then travelled majority of the United States leaving a thick fog of dust, the drought and erosion of the Dust Bowl affected 100,000,000 acres (400,000 km2) that centred on the panhandles of Texas and Oklahoma and touched adjacent sections of New Mexico, Colorado, and Kansas. In many areas, over 75% of the topsoil was blown away by the end of the 1930s there were severe long-term economic consequences of the Dust Bowl, farmers couldn’t harvest any more crops because the soil was ruined. Counties that had experienced the most considerable levels of erosion saw a greater decline in agricultural land values the per-acre value of farmland decreased by 28% in high-erosion counties and 17% in medium-erosion counties. Furthermore banks failed in the Dust Bowl region with a higher rate of frequency than in the rest of the country, it was harder for farmers to gain access to the credit they needed to buy capital to shift crop production. Consequently Farmers & business owners had to move away because they had no more money.
Steinbeck became sensitive towards the people in California. He wants to help marginalised citizens. Steinbeck created this book to show how reality was to fight against the media. It was a miniature representation of something in this case 1930s California, his book was based on social realism. To show everyone real life as it truly is. He presents the protagonists & antagonists in the world. He is not concerned about idealizing things and making them beautiful when they are not. He is displaying real life as it is for political, social and moral reasons. Steinbeck wanted to indicate the socialism is better than capitalism. The play An Inspector Call is set in the city in Northern Midlands in 1912 and was written J.B Priestly. The book is set just before the First World War. (1911-1914) and that it’s the period history that Priestly chose to set his play on. Priestly play was written just after the World War 2 I think this is to show capitalism is wrong and how socialism is right he portrayed this by showing Britain at its worst I think he wanted to influence socialism into the new, younger generation.
He did this to avoid further war & conflict by showing how capitalism is wrong. The antagonist in of mice of men is Curley. This is because of his habit to think he is better than everyone. Curley’s appearance shows that he is a replica as his father; this is shown when both characters were introduced. The Boss was introduced first in chapter 2 “he wore high heeled boots with spurs to prove he is not a labouring man” spurs are the sharp silver circles at the bottom of boots; spurs are spiky and sharp this could suggest that the boss is dangerous and he shows this through his boots furthermore these specific boots are more expensive than a typical ranch hand could afford this could propose that the boss is to superior to help the workers like an socialist boss would, this is shown because the boots aren’t practical for workers because they are high heeled and we can’t work in high heeled boots. Curly was introduced in the same chapter(2) “Liked the Boss he wore high heeled boots” Curly shows authority through the clothes he wears the quote “high heeled boots” show he wants to appear taller because of the fact he is short In addition it can also suggest that he is not like the ordinary ranch workers but more superior; He wants everyone else on the ranch to look up to him and treat him with higher authority.
Curly is intimidated by Lennie because he is bigger and loftier than him and he tries to act immense around Lennie to show him that he is not scared. This makes us dislike him because we know that even though Lennie is big and tall he wouldn’t hurt anyone out of meanness. Curley mirrors an animal when he spots Lennie smirking at him “his hands closed into fists, he stiffened into a crouch” describe him like an animal about to prance. Animals attack would be vicious and dangerous; reason why Curley is an antagonist because of the fact he acts like a scary ferocious and treacherous animal, this would affect the readers because nobody like violent nasty animals. Steinbeck may have done this so the readers of the novel or the people watching the play would change their views are realise that if they are capitalist how wrong it is due to the fact how Steinbeck exaggerated Curlys attitude. Curlys closed fists could mean he is hiding his fear from Lennie by shutting it out Curly has competition with every guy taller than him because he thinks they’re a threat to him. Curly picks on the marginalised characters and doesn’t even care for his dead wife but for revenge on Lennie this shows how cold hearted he is and since Curly is one of the main reprehensive of the capitalists in the book Steinbeck is showing us that the capitalists are the bad guys to the affect that they won’t even have a tad bit of sympathy for even their wife.
Protagonists in Of mice and men are George and Lennie this is because they are always there for each other the quote “I got you to look after me and you got me to look after you” this shows that they got a lot of love for each other. George and Lennie have a brotherly relationship. George is the big brother & Lennie is the little brother. ”a few beans slipped out of the side of Lennie mouth, George gestured with his spoon. The gesture which he did is something a mother would do to a child. We like Lennie because he is like a child. In Chapter 1 (pg21) the following quote stated by George to Lennie quite a few times is, “Say it over to yourself, Lennie, so you won’t forget it.” Here George is treating Lennie like a child because he can not remember anything and must be constantly reminded of what he has to do. Lennies childish behaviour is also shown in the last chapter when Lennie says “You ain’t gonna leave me, are ya George?” (p. 98) He is fearing, as a little child would, that he will be left all along, and both he and George know that Lennie cannot be on his own we admire Lennie because he is fair and treats everyone the same. We don’t know a lot about Lennie’s background. We don’t know what happened to Lennie’s family and parents and why he didn’t live with them, just that he was looked after by his Aunt Clara.
George is Lennies only family apart from his Aunt, We think of Lennie as a protagonist because he is like a child and everyone likes children we like George because he looks after Lennie and doesn’t take advantage of him to the effect which he treats him like his own family. George could have left Lennie when ever he wanted to. George could’ve left Reed and let the authorities take lennie so he would run off, start somewhere new with a better job and won’t have Lennie as a interference anymore, the fact that George helped Lennie escape shows that they really care for each other and he is like an big brother to him. We are shown Lennies childish behaviour at the start of the book we know he likes to touch soft things, He has a dead mouse in his pocket so he can stroke it as there walking along, When George sees this he treats him like a child and makes Lennie throw it away “give it here!” This shows there father-son like relationship as the harsh tone he used when he asked Lennie for the mouse.
The harsh tone is shown by the explanation mark. Other protagonist in of mice and men are candy and crooks. Candy is discriminated for being old and disables, readers will feel sympathetic towards him especially after Carlson killed Candy’s only companion his dog; Crooks is a Negro and is discriminated for his race. In the great depression black people suffered as much as white people and in majority of the cases even worse. They left the southern states hoping to find work majority of the time they won’t come across any and they would experience racism. Along with candy crooks character is used by Steinbeck to show the effects of discrimination. This time the prejudice is based on race, crooks is not allowed in the bunk house with the white people he is only allowed in Christmas and that is because he pays a collateral of fighting for their entertainment.
The protagonist in of mice and men are coincidently the marginalised characters. Steinbeck shows us that the protagonists in the book are also the socialists. The protagonists in An Inspector Calls is the inspector this is because he feels remorseful for Eva Smiths’ death .In addition the Inspector is the only character in the play who didn’t do something to result in her dying. We can relate the inspector to the ghost from the Christmas tale “Ghosts of the Christmas past”. The ghosts try to change Ebenezer Scrooges behaviour the same way the inspector is trying to change the Birlings family manners and make them more socialists characters. Sheila is a protagonist because she changed from a self-centred mummy’s girl to a mature and generous young lady. This is because the inspector showed that what she was did was wrong. In addition we like Sheila because she took full responsibility for Eva Smith’s death and the fact that she played a part towards it.
Even after they realised that the inspector was actually a counterfeit and that they are not in trouble she felts guilty. Likewise Eric Sheila’s brother also changed his views he was already had socialists views at the start of play unlike Sheila however at the end of the play both characters took full responsibility and changed their capitalist views to socialist views. However Eric didn’t take full responsibility and tried to put some blame on Mrs Birling his mother. This is because Mrs Birling took no blame for the death of Eva smith. The fact that Mrs Birling takes no liability makes us dislike her similarly Mr Birling takes no blame and is actually relieved that the inspector didn’t come for him but his family this shows how subterranean he is, he didn’t mind the fact that his family might be in danger, only the fact that he is out of harm’s way. Mr Birling selfish and arrogant behaviour makes us dislikes him. Steinbeck and priestly are trying to demonstrate to us that the protagonists are socialists and that socialists are much loving caring and they are people we tend to like however capitalist are supercilious big headed and they are they bad people in life.
Social mobility is when the poor attempt to ascend up to the prosperous however the prosperous push them down. This is shown in both texts of mice of men and an inspector calls. A classic example would be Eva smith from An Inspector Calls. She is a working class girl who committed suicide. This is because every time she stepped up or if something good happened to her the Birling residents pushed her down. Eva smith asked Mr Birling for pay raise however he said no for the reason that he claimed that if he paid her more he would have to increase the tax of the goods he sells the quote “They wanted 25 shilling I refused of course”. Proves my previous points point that capitalist are cold hearted, Mr Birling simply could have used his own money o pay the tax instead of increasing it however he is a capitalist and capitalists only care for themselves therefore to the only way to dispense of this problem was to sack Eva smith from work. The word “of course” shows us that there was nothing to discuss and the answer to the raise is moderately perceptible.
Mr Birling cares about himself and the profit he gains by getting rid of Eva smith, he kept himself happy but didn’t realise he just ruined an innocent girls life. Sheila Mr Birling’s daughter took advantage of her father’s power. The quote “so you used the power you had… to punish the girl just because she made you feel like that” shows the reader Sheila’s selfish attitude. The facts that Sheila got the girl fired because she was prettier than her shows us how priestly is trying to tell us that capitalists are snobby and bigheaded. They will also do anything they want to get what they want even if it’s distressing someone else. Mrs Birling refused to help pregnant Eva smith and said that it’s her fault and that she can’t do anything. This is also known as laissez faire which means not to interfere. The French word means let them do as they will. Mrs Birling doesn’t interfere with Eva Smiths life. This is an example of Mrs Billing’s cruel capitalistic behaviour. In my opinion I thinks that Mrs Birling is more capitalists then all the characters because of the fact she never had to work for money and she was born rich.
Unlike Mr Birling who had to work for his money. They are the reason why society is failing and people can’t get jobs. It is ironic because they say they worked to get where they are now, but when one works, and gets rich the capitalists pus them down. In of mice and men, George and Lennie start of working in a ranch in southern California called Salinas’s valley. They are working together so they can get enough money to fulfil the “American Dream”. The American dream is to own a farm, live on it and the food that grows on the farm as well as the money they make of it. This represent the Jefferson ideal of agrarian society, Thomas Jefferson promoted an agrarian society for the United States of America during the nation’s early formation. Jefferson wanted America to live on farms and live on it and the food that grows on it. Curly the boss’s son abuses his power; he picks on Lennie and controls his wife, curly s capitalistic behaviour led to the failure of the American dream.
Lennie had a dream and his dream was to live of the “fatta the land” the quote shows that Lennie wants to rise up and live and work for himself one day. Curley smashed lennies dream, he paid no attention o his wife so his wife tried communicating with Lennie. This eventually led to her death as she let Lennie touch her hair even after is past of killing soft thing like the puppy and mice. I think Steinbeck isn’t killing socialism but showing us how capitalism is killing it. Steinbeck and priestly show socialism and capitalism through the setting in texts. Steinbeck shows the bunk house as underprivileged this shows how socialists are inadequately looked after along with their poor living conditions. Whereas priestly shows the Birlings house in the midlands as prosperous this represents the capitalists by saying that they can afford high-quality possessions.
The bunk house is minute and un attractive the quote” white washed” shows that he people are deprived, the colour white shows that they can afford any other coloured paint because the colour white is unadorned as well as tedious , this must be why it’s cheap. The colour white is dull, coincidentally so are the people of the bunk house. Another interpretation could be that the boss was being cheap and indolent and that he didn’t want to spend allot of money on the workers, during the 1930s it was the time of the great depression this is when the country went into debt, people cut down on spending money this explains why the boss bought white paint as it must of been inexpensive. Steinbeck uses alliteration in the quote “white washed “to exaggerate the glumness of the colour white. The quote “floor un painted” manifests that the workers have a poor living condition.
The quote indicates that not only was the boss cheap enough to get white paint, he couldn’t be bothered to buy enough to paint the floor. This shows that the boss is lazy and doesn’t care about his workers; the quote “small square windows” indicates that the windows are minuscule. The small window can indicate to their lack of freedom. The word small can mean petty and insignificant this implies that their freedom is negligible and trivial. The quote “solid door with a wooden latch” suggests that they are restrained within the bunk house. The word “solid” means hard and strong this can imply that the door is blocked off. The words wooden latch mean that they’re locked in this could imply that they’re trapped in the ranch house and in Steinbeck’s microcosm. The boss, curly and his wife live in another house however this house to superior to be explained in the story. The story is seen through George and lennies eyes perhaps Steinbeck is saying that they are not good enough to see their house. Steinbeck carefully controls the setting in Of mice and men.
It is especially lucid in the last and first chapter, both chapters mirror each other you can see this because they start of at the Salinas River and end their journey there to. Steinbeck describes the nature vividly at the start and the end. The nature resonates with the theme of the novel. We can observe the relaxed aggression of nature. This shows that everything Lennie did meant no harm and it was all natural. “Lennie never done it in meanness “the story foreshadows events from the start to the end. The conversation between George and Lennie reflects the firsts and last chapter. Their story goes round in circles like a hamster’s wheel it doesn’t take them anywhere. The ranch house may be poor and shabby however the Birling’s house is in the city in comparison to the country side. The house is advanced than a ranch house. The stage directions give an effect that it’s a comfy home. The lights were “pink and intimate” the colour of the lights reflected the mood of the play. This is shown in the book at the start whilst the family were celebrating the daughter engagement. When they shade of the lights was a “rose tinted glow” the family were still celebrating the daughter’s engagement to Gerald croft.
The mood of the play was still romantic thus the use of warm coloured lights. The word rose means a shrub with prickly stems and a fragranced flower. A sore symbolizes love priestly may have used this to give a passionate sensation however roses have thorns so bristly, jagged and treacherous, Steinbeck might have been for shadowing the upcoming danger. The word glow means to emit light and heat devoid of flames. Priestly chose this to exaggerate the love and heat in the air emitted by the characters. Glow can also mean having a feeling of wellbeing or satisfaction. Something socialists can never feel because they are never happy due to the capitalists. However the atmosphere changes when the Inspector arrives and the lights are “brighter and harder” as if he is welcoming the family in to reality. The word “bright “is to emit intense light in comparison to the soft light emitted at the start of the play. The word “harder” means solid, firm and hard. Priestly may be indicating that things are getting ugly metaphorically. It can also mean an unkind feeling causing pain and sorrow of hardship it is as if priestly for shadows upcoming events through the illumination.
The bright lights can resemblance the lights from one are getting interrogated by a policeman. The furniture in the Birling’s house is extravagant like the family itself the quote “solid furniture” means that the furniture in the Birling’s house won’t break because it’s expensive. A rich family tends to have expensive possessions in comparison to the bunk house in Of mice of men. There is only one woman in Of mice of men and that is Curleys wife. During the 1930s women were only used as housewives in addition men only used them as sex objects this is sexism was more accepted in that centaury. Men paid no affection for their wife’s this is shown in of mice of men when curly would wear a “glove full of Vaseline” to keep his hand soft to pleasure his wife. This quote shows how curly has no respect for his wife and the fact that he goes around telling the people in the bunk house that shows how arrogant he is. Curly represents how men were in the 1930s in Steinbeck’s microcosm and due to his behaviour we can comprehend how egotistical capitalist men were in that time period.
Women are discriminated in the book Of mice of men as well as during the 1930’s.in the time john Steinbeck lived women were only used to serve men they were not supposed high in regards. Women still tried to yearn for a better future by exploiting men. Curlys wife paraded around the bunk house wearing too much make up as well as stimulating clothing with red nails; red ostrich feathers and red mules. Steinbeck uses imagery to portray curlys wife as provocative that and the fact that she goes around the bunk house flirting with the workers and begging for attention. Curlys wife has no other way to communicate to somebody but through her body language. He quote “red finger nails , red mules , red ostrich feathers” plays a big part in her personality as she is wearing lots of the colour red, it could indicate blood and fire. These two features represents the devil. The devil brings danger so this could mean that curlys wife brings jeopardy. The colour red is intense and eye grabbing the fact that she wears these a lot of this colour could mean she wants all eyes on her and that she is seeking attention, implies that she is seeking love and desire both she is need of, she can only do this by wearing bright colours and dressing a certain way and through her promiscuous behaviour.
Steinbeck’s preliminary portrayal of curls wife shows her to be a mean and seductive temptress. She is mirrored to eve in the garden of Eden. The same way eve seduced Adam. Curlys wife crushed George and lennies dream of owning a farm. Even curlys wife needed to dream of being a Hollywood actress, her beauty would have helped her fulfil her dream, and this made her vulnerable since she was not successful. The final chapters describe her as innocent. Steinbeck is shows us that everyone who are portrayed as bad may have some humanity in them. Steinbeck also refers to other women in of mice and men. Apart from the fact she’s not mentioned in the novel the girl from weed plays a big part as she is the reason George and Lennie had to escape from the job in weed. We can conclude that the girl from weed and curlys wife are both temptations that encourage lennies curiosity and of course Lennie could not resist. Similarly how Lennie couldn’t resist to pet soft objects which comfort him ranch men could not refuse to accept the fact that they need to be seeking immediate gratification. Susy brothel households Clearly prove my point that women were just objects in the hands of men; this makes them victims of society. Many of the ranch men go there and participate in bordellos, its crystal clear that women were surplus and that they have no importance. In fact curlys wife’s name is not even mentioned in the novel. Steinbeck does not mention her name for the reason that he want to emphasise curlys ownership over her.
He is depicting her as property rather than an actual person. She was the one who caused most the tension on the ranch the reason why her husband was always cranky. In spite of all the malevolence connected with women, Steinbeck also gives us an affectionate vision of Aunt Clara whose position is taken by George. Therefore in the novel we are made conscious that there is some good in women, on the other hand it seems as if that there can never be any harmony in the world were women are present because once eve contaminated Adam in the garden of Eden the world was tainted forever. There are not any main similarities between the three women in an inspector calls. Mrs Birling and Eva smith are from completely different spectra’s such as economical, social and personality apart from their gender there is no traits they share in common, Sheila is in between the two characters she is not as snobby as her callous mother neither is she un compassionate, however her social status is far away from Eva smiths.
Sheila and Mrs Birling are related however they are more distanced. In this era it is common for parents to be distanced from their children, so as you can envisage in sibyls case she barely knew her own daughter. At the start of the play we see a much closed minded view of Sheila; she is like a Paris Hilton of the Victorian era because she is described as a shallow airhead. she gets bewildered over material goods. Especially when her fiancé presented her an engagement ring. She called it “wonderful” and saying things like “look mummy isn’t it a beauty”. Sheila is in her twenties and his calling her mother “mummy” this is a classic example of her girlish, childish and immature behaviour. These two evidences prove my point as well as going against it. They are figurative later on in the play, when Sheila’s impression change. Firstly she gives Gerald back her ring, claiming she wants to begin her relationship once again. Secondly she refers to her mum as “mother” and sees her mother in a new radiance; Sheila is un impressed and ashamed of her flippant and unsympathetic attitude.
Sheila is initially very eager about her engagement and loves Gerald heaps; however she is not obtuse and knows he was doing something suspicious over the summer. Even though she didn’t know exactly what he was doing. She did mention it when they were drinking at the start of the play in an amiable approach” except for all last summer when you never came anywhere near me and I wondered what happened to you” despite the fact that Steinbeck does not let us know from the start that Gerald is up o no good we can guess it’s something to do with Eva Smith. Even before the characters do, priestly uses dramatic irony to emphasise this. Sheila is upset however she is not surprised by Gerald’s affair. As I mentioned earlier Sheila hands Gerald back the ring requesting to start the relationship anew. This shows her developing maturity towards the end of the play. During the final scenes Sheila is more peaceful and distinguished in manner as she is not delivering puerile hysterics that would have been expected from her at the star of the play.
She knows she really loves Gerald deeply and she can’t complete life without him, however Sheila does not completely forgive him this is showing how independent she can be. Perhaps priestly is showing us that capitalists are stupid and immature and socialists are mature. Mrs Birling is one malicious piece of work. She is even more capitalists & cold hearted than her husband. She takes no accountability for the death of Eva Smith and tries to blame it on Eva by calling her “impertinent”. She seems to believe that since she is wealthy she is not to blame- typical capitalist behaviour. What’s even worse than her sickening uprightness is the fact that she is deluded. She believes everything she says is right. Mrs Birling is very comfortable with her situation in civilization. well we think she is, her bitter cold demeanour and her sour manner give of very little of her ambitions. She does not have a high status as the crofts however unlike her husband she in not ashamed and has no burning infatuation to be so. She is already her husband’s “social superior” and seems to be satisfied with that. It is ironic how Mrs Birling is the social superior as it is normally the husbands whom have a higher status. she is very aware as well reprimanding her husband for the plain triviality of thanking the cook “Arthur you’re not supposed to say such things” as if a simple deed as thanking the chef is disgusting. Not only does Mrs Birling put herself on plinth, but she has aloofness for everyone else she even patronises her own offspring’s, treating them younger than they are.
She finds the inspector extremely despicable as if she is exceeding the law when she says “I beg your pardon” according to her if she does not fond of the inspector’s attitude he would have to leave premises. Our image of Mrs Birling is pessimistic from the very start and only got worse she is representational of capitalism. The play was set out to expose and demoralize capitalism. Despite the fact that Mrs Birling is seen as the enemy of socialism, Eva smith is portrayed as its champion she is more of a representation rather than a character, seeing as though she doesn’t actually appear in the play itself Eva smith is very important. Edna and Eva are very alive as they are both working class women earning minimum wage, they hardly appear in the book this might be because of the fact priestly is showing that they are to low class to appear in the play.
Both priestly and inspector Goole are similar because they support Eva smith while everyone apart from Mrs Birling felt sorry for her death, the inspector and priestly are the only one who haven’t done nothing wrong to lead to her death. At the start of the play The Birling family is drinking champagne and port both luxurious drinks priestly uses irony to show the rich capitalists are drinking expensive drinks however working class socialists Eva smith is drinks toxic disinfectant. Social Darwinism is the concept of survival of the fittest in this case it’s about women Steinbeck and priestly are shown that because women are women they are not significant enough for their power to increase this is shown through Curlys wife in On mice and men And Sheila in An in inspector calls, it is shown through curlys wife because of the fact she is a house wife and is nothing but a object to her husband. It is shown in an inspector calls when Sheila would try to talk but her father stops her and tells her to go to her room and let the men talk.
Both examples show haw the men think they there better and that women don’t deserve to rise up or speak for them self. In conclusion I realised that Both Authors Steinbeck and Priestly disagree with Winston Churchill’s statement about how socialism is a philosophy of failure, they do this by writing about social mobility and how there isn’t any because the capitalist always push the socialists down. In addition both authors clearly state the protagonists and antagonists, coincidently the protagonists were socialists and the antagonists were capitalists, the authors are telling the readers that Capitalists is pessimistic and socialists is optimistic. They also show us how capitalists have tended to be rich and have nicer houses this is because they don’t share the money resulting in the socialists living in meagre bunk houses. The authors also discreetly mention social Darwinism and that only certain people rise to the top theses certain people are the capitalists because they are loaded. Both authors created a microcosm to show us how society was like at the time. This is called social realism. The two texts show how rich people are quick to take advantage of the poor and the vulnerable .