Lennie and Crooks are two weak characters in of Mice and Men. In the tough working environment which was America’s 1920s, the time of the Great Depression, there was no place for mentally or physically insufficient people, it was survival of the fittest and “every man for himself. ” We learn of Lennie’s non-existent capacity to care for himself early on in the novel. Even at the very start of the novel we see that “The two men walked in single file down the path, and even in the open one stayed behind the other. ” This shows that George (who is in front) is the clear leader of the two.
Lennie also shows how he is not as comfortable with humans as he is with animals- “He walked heavily, dragging his feet a little, the way a bear drags his paws. ” This means that George has to give him precise instructions how to act around other people other than himself, as he could ruin things for the both of them if he “opens his god damn mouth” George, faced with the dilemma of the men at the ranch “seeing him talk before he works” has to use his knowledge of Lennie to help him remember, so he gives him a reward for remembering. Good boy! That’s fine, Lennie! When we get the coupla acres I can let you tend the rabbits alright. Specially if you remember as good as that. ”
He knows that Lennie never remembers anything unless if it has something to do with tending rabbits, which he is obsessed with. Lennie often doesn’t know how to act around other humans, so when confronted with violence, he is helpless and can’t respond without instructions from George. “Lennie looked helplessly at George, then he got up and tried to retreat. ‘Make ‘um stop, George. He only begins to fight back when George encourages him “Get ‘im, Lennie! ” Crooks, is another weak character in Of Mice and Men. However, Crooks is in fact quite intelligent as we can see from Steinbeck’s description of his room “And he had books too, a tattered dictionary and a mauled copy of the California civil code for 1905. ” The words ‘tattered’ and ‘mauled’ make the books sound that they are well thumbed and used regularly. Crooks is rejected by the other men because he is black, and in 1920s America there was mass segregation between blacks and whites- they were not equal.
This means that Crooks has a separate room away from the other men, as a result “Scattered around the floor were a number of personal possessions; for, being alone, Crooks could leave his things about. ” He pretends he does not mind that he is away from the other men, being too dignified and proud to admit that he hates not having company, so whenever the white men approach his room, he tells them “You got no right to come in my room. This here’s my room. Nobody got any right in here but me”, even though he secretly wants attention.
He has “an eye for an eye” approach to the other men on the ranch, treating them the same as they all treat him; “I ain’t wanted in the bunk house, and you ain’t wanted in my room…They say I stink. Well, I tell you, you all of you stink to me. ” When Lennie comes into his room, Crooks questions him and complains but secretly is enjoying someone who does not discriminate against him paying him attention for once. He starts to open up to Lennie, telling him his true feelings about being separate from the other men because “A guy can talk to you an’ be sure you won’t go blabbin’. Crooks senses his mental advantage over Lennie and decides to take the upper hand for once in his life. “S’pose George went into town tonight and you never heard of him no more. ” He questions Lennie, as he is trying to prove something to himself “Crooks pressed forward some kind of private victory. ” Lennie and Crooks are two weak characters in Of Mice and Men, but both for contrasting reasons- Lennie for his mental weakness, and Crooks simply because of his skin colour.