Steinbeck portrays the Migrant workers as having a variety of characteristics which they all have in common.
The first of these is loneliness. Apart from George and Lennie, all of the migrant workers are lonely. We know this when Crooks says. “A guy goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody” “A gut needs somebody to be near him”. The migrant workers are in this state of loneliness because they are constantly moving from ranch to ranch. They are victims of their own circumstances. This loneliness has an unwanted knock on effect on the migrant workers in “of mice and men”.
It propels them to be slfish, self-centered and paranoid. We can see an example of this when Carlson wants to shoot Candy’s dog who he is emotionally attached to, because Carlson believes it smells. “Why’n’t you shoot him, Candy”. The migrant workers are like this because for nearly all of their life, they have had to look out for one person: themselves. Another characteristic of the migrant workers in “Of mice and men” is that they all seem to lack any real job satisfaction.A prime example of this is when George says to Slim “I’d be bringin’ in my own crops, ‘stead of dion’ all the work and not getting what come outta the ground”.
Some reasons for a lack of job satisfaction include perhaps getting bored. Or maybe because they workers never saw and keep the resulting crops of all of their hard work. Exploitation may also be a reason for a lack of job satisfaction.
There is clear evidence to show that migrant workers of the time were being exploited. For example, Crooks had to sleep on his own and was referred to as a “nigger”.Simply because he was black. “I ain’t wanted in your house”. The characters portrayed by Steinbeck are not portrayed a racist intentionally, it is because that was the general attitude at the time. Workers could easily be exploited like this because it was the height of the great depression and with so much unemployment, worker rights were not too important to employers.
All of this once again indicates them as being victims of their own circumstances. The aspect of the migrant workers life that is portrayed the most by Steinbeck are the dreams for the future.A large number of the main characters have dreams. The most important of these is the one of George and Lennie, who have dreams of their own house and farm; “Well, it’s ten acres”, “Got a little windmill”, “An’ a chicken run”. Candy and Crooks also hear of George and Lennie’s dream and want to join in on it, but after being interrupted by Curley’s wife, Crooks retracts his offer.
This dream keeps Candy going, that when Curley’s wife has been killed by Lennie, all he is concerned about is that the dream will not become a reality. “You an’ me can get that little place, can’t we George?”. The dreams of the migrant workers are powered by the motivation to get a better life for themselves. The dreams include everything that they don’t have now. It would give stability in a job, food, harvests that they could keep, a place to invite their friends, responsibility and a place that they could finally call home.
“Why don’t you spen’ the night”. “nobody could can us”. It is this dream that motivates George and Lennie to work those long hard hours. The dreams also push forward the plot. But with these dreams, there are some that are cynical of them.