Carlson: the Unseen Mirror of Society in ‘Of Mice and Men’

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Updated: Dec 22, 2023
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Carlson: the Unseen Mirror of Society in ‘Of Mice and Men’

This engaging essay dives into the character of Carlson from John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men,” exploring his role as a reflection of societal attitudes during the Great Depression. Although not a central figure, Carlson’s character is pivotal in showcasing the era’s harsh reality, where individuals are valued for their utility rather than their humanity. The essay highlights Carlson’s key moment in the novella – his indifferent attitude towards Candy’s old dog, symbolizing the utilitarian mindset prevalent in society. This action foreshadows the tragic climax involving George and Lennie, emphasizing the survival of the fittest mentality. The piece also examines how Carlson’s lack of empathy and emotional depth contributes to the themes of loneliness and isolation in the story. Through a conversational tone, the essay presents Carlson as a mirror to the societal values of his time, subtly but powerfully reflecting the dehumanization and disconnection in the world of “Of Mice and Men.” His role, though understated, is crucial for understanding the deeper themes of the novella and Steinbeck’s critique of the societal norms of the era. Moreover, at PapersOwl, there are additional free essay samples connected to Of Mice And Men.

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Let’s chat about Carlson from John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men.” You know, the guy who’s more of a background character but still manages to leave a lasting impression. He’s like that one person at work who doesn’t say much but somehow says a lot. In the world of the novella, set during the Great Depression, Carlson stands as a stark reminder of how society often views the weak and the weary.

Think about Carlson’s big moment – the scene with Candy’s old dog.

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Here’s this dog, no longer the spry pup he once was, and Carlson just can’t see why they keep him around. To him, the dog’s just a problem needing a solution, a nuisance that’s lost its use. This moment isn’t just about a dog; it’s a snapshot of the cold, hard view of life back then. People were measured by what they could do, not who they were. Carlson embodies this with a chilling indifference.

What’s really striking about Carlson is his lack of empathy. He can’t fathom why Candy would want to keep his old companion around. It’s all black and white to him – the dog’s a burden, and burdens need to be lifted, end of story. This attitude is a glimpse into a world where emotions take a backseat to survival, where practicality trumps connection.

Carlson’s actions with the dog also set the stage for the heart-wrenching finale with George and Lennie. It’s like a grim foreshadowing of what happens when people are seen as problems rather than beings with emotions and connections. Through Carlson, Steinbeck’s not just telling a story; he’s holding up a mirror to the society of his time, showing the gritty, often cruel reality of life during the Great Depression.

Besides, Carlson’s role paints a vivid picture of loneliness and isolation. He’s not the guy sharing stories around the campfire. His emotional disconnect highlights the loneliness that blankets the ranch, where everyone seems to be in their own little bubble of solitude.

In wrapping up, Carlson might not be the character who gets all the attention, but he’s crucial to understanding “Of Mice and Men.” He’s like a quiet observer, reflecting the harsh truths of his time. Through him, Steinbeck critiques a world that values people for their utility over their humanity. Carlson is the embodiment of an era’s attitude, a sobering reminder of the impact of societal values on compassion and connection. In a way, he’s the unsung character who brings to light the deeper themes of the novella, making us think about the society we live in and how we treat those around us.

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Carlson: The Unseen Mirror of Society in 'Of Mice and Men'. (2023, Dec 22). Retrieved from