My initial response to this extract was one of empathy towards Lennie due to his immediate confusion yet, as I read it, I also began to feel appreciation for Crooks and the way he acts despite the emotional uproar he causes Lennie to experience. Crooks starts by planting doubts into Lennie’s mind. As his torment continues, Lennie begins to grow dubious of his own certainty. Crooks taunts him with the possibility that George may end up hurt or never coming back much to Lennie’s defiance. ‘ “He won’t do it,” Lennie cried.’
By using the term ‘cried’, it enhances Lennie’s feeling of defiance and almost hints at desperation thus creating a sense of both empathy and pity for him. Lennie’s defiance then turns into doubt as Crooks’ words seem to strike a nerve with him. He questions himself by asking; ‘ “Don’t you think he will? ”’ The fact that Lennie begins to question himself creates a huge amount of sympathy towards him. It shows the reader not only Lennie’s insecurities and fears but his emotional attachment to George.
As Crooks continues his emotional abuse, his face ‘lighted with pleasure’. Initially, I felt some sort of hatred towards Crooks for enjoying the pain he is inflicting upon Lennie. Yet, as I continued to read, I began to understand why Crooks took delight in making Lennie feel this way. Crooks has a strong dislike for white individuals as slavery hadn’t long been abolished and black individuals were still poorly treated. I felt almost sorry for Crooks that his hatred for white men grew to the point where he took pleasure in mental torment.
This also made me feel sympathy for Lennie. As “Lennie struggled to understand”, I felt pity for Lennie as Crooks only targeted him due to his lack of mental ability. The atmosphere changes and gives the reader a feeling of tension as Lennie “stood up and walked dangerously toward Crooks. ” By using the term “dangerously” it gives the reader a sense of apprehension; we already know Lennie’s strength and the reader fears for Crooks in case his fate winds up the same as Curley’s.
Upon seeing Lennie stalking toward him like a dangerous predator, Crooks “edged back on his bunk to get out of the way. ” This gives the reader a sense of comeuppance as Crooks is now the minor in this conversation as he edges away from him like a coward. At first, this action gives the reader a sense of victory for Lennie’s benefit yet I find that the emotion changes to one of pity for Crooks.
His immediate reaction to Lennie’s movement shows his fear for white individuals as – during that particular period of time – were classed as superior. His reaction gives the emotion of pity yet also hatred toward white individuals for making black individuals feel so greatly intimidated. This feeling of intimidation is also enhanced when Lennie “stood over him” thus making Crooks feel like a minority. This feeling of sympathy, hatred and apprehension is consistently occurring throughout this entire extract.