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Roosevelt Case - Explain the Significance of Anger

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Explain the significance of anger in the novel

Steinbeck writers about the theme of 'anger' in the novel not only in the literal sense but figurative sense as well. He uses the novel to show one of protest by the characters and the different struggles they face. Through the characters we see protests against racial discrimination, the treatment of the old age and disability, prejudice of woman at the time and the plight of the farm worker who never reaps what he sows.

Following the collapse of the New York Wall Street stock market in 1929, the US entered a prolonged period of economic depression from which it only emerged with the onset of the Second World War. During this period of failed business and hard poverty and long term unemployment, hoards of migrant workers came to California in search of work. This was because there was much free land in the West there was much free land so more jobs were available. This caused anger amoungst the migrant workers however due to them having to move around a lot. Men mostly travelling alone migrated from ranch to ranch on short-term, poorly paid contracts, this being the only type of work that was made available to them. Anger was created amongst the workers because they were not able to have a steady income to support their families back home, and had to get on with the work on each ranch and not make any friends.

Leading on from this anger is also symbolised through the plight of farm workers with industrial injuries who have no family or not place to go, and this is portrayed through Candy. Right from the start Candy's age and physical weakness are explained. He is a 'tall stoop shouldered old man' who has lost his right hand. This puts emphasis on him being less able than others, 'an old crippled swamper'. We see throughout the novel he is angered by this and it puts him at a disadvantage to other's on the farm. As Candy lost his right hand and also because he is old, he is not much use at the ranch. The boss lets him continue to work on the ranch even though Candy admits, he 'ain't much good with on'y one hand.' Candy is seen as an outcast among the other ranch hands and is worried that the boss will get rid of him and kick him off the ranch. This causes irritation because he wants to do work but he doesn't have the ability to do so.

However, to be black and poor in the 1930's was much worse. Racial prejudice from white people towards blacks was usual. Blacks were routinely discriminated against in all areas of life and they were frequently the victims of violence, Crooks demonstrates this in the novel. He is ostracised from the bunkhouse, he is abused by the boss regardless of whether he is at fault or not, and he doesn't share living headquarters with anyone. Crooks is probably one of the more prominent symbols of anger in the novel. Steinbeck writers how Crooks knows that he cannot do anything about the situation he is in, and he is angered by this. When talking to Lennie in the bunkhouse he takes pleasure in Lennie's thoughts

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