Of Mice and Men

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck is a captivating story set in the 1930s during the Great Depression. The book follows two main characters, George and Lenny, on their journey as drifting farmhands voyaging through California in search of work. Prone to misfortune, life is anything but easy for the poor protagonists. As they both tirelessly strive to achieve the American dream, it quickly becomes apparent that their goal is far out of reach.

George and Lenny are both drifters. This lifestyle was not all too uncommon during the Great Depression, largely due to the economic recession and scarcity of available jobs. Forced out of their previous positions as farmhands, they both end up  travelling across the country living hand-to-mouth in search for new work and a bit of food.

The book perfectly captures the essence of what it meant to live as drifters during the Great Depression through its many realistic descriptions. The book also offers a fair amount of dialouge which often further emphasises the not-so-fortunate situations that the books characters find themselves in. It achieves this  through the use of various litterary devices, such as the frequent use of slang and negatively loaded words. This creates an almost constant looming atmosphere present throughout the story.

In terms of character development I would say that Lenny might have lost some of his childish naivety in exchange for a wearier and more anxious interior. George’s character changed as well, in the beginning he was portrayed as reliable and sturdy, almost as a mentor to Lenny, but even George grew to become more vulnerable and uncertain throughout the span of the story. I suspect that their new and somewhat threatening surroundings might have been the main cause of  this subtle change in character.

Personally I’m quite fond of author John Steinbeck’s minimalist writing style. He perfectly managed to write a descriptive story, although it felt like he wasn’t really describing anything at all. By that I mean that his overall style of writing makes the story seem quite simple on a surface level. This is accomplished mainly through the use of simple language and language structure which provides the reader with a fluid reading experience. All without the need for breaks to ponder complex metaphors and the like. In conjunction with the easy-to-follow plot this allows for a coherent and immersive story.

To sum it all up, I think that the story is an overall great read. Not only does it capture a lot of the finer and historically accurate details and descriptions of life during The Great Depression, but it also encompasses a touching story about hope, love, and loss which author John Steinbeck concisely, yet beautifully explores throughout the book.

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Caravans in motion

The Central American migrant caravans, also known as the ‘’Viacrucis del Migrante’’, are migrant caravans organized by Pueblo Sin Fronteras that set off during Holy Week in the spring of 2017 and 2018. The late 2018 caravans largely consisted of migrants from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador intending to reach the United States as a means of escape from local gang violence, poverty, and political repression.

Starting off in San Pedro Sula, one of Honduras’ major cities, there were only a meagre 160 migrants partaking in the convoy. However, it quickly grew to about 500 participants as the migrants marched through Honduras. Bartolo Fuentes, a former Honduran congressman, stated that the main goal of the caravan was to find safety in numbers as it travelled north.

It is told that the American Vice President Mike Pence insisted the presidents of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador try to persuade their caravan-partaking countrymen to stay home, something of which only Honduran president Juan Orlando Hernández directly complied to.

Steadily increasing in numbers, the caravan approached the Mexican city of Tapachula on the 21. October amassing an estimated total of 7000 migrants. Presumably exhausted from already having laid 687 km behind them, their journey continued north through Mexico. This would spark a short-lasting conflict between the migrants and Mexican authorities.

The general reception of the caravan amongst republican media and politicians, including President Donald Trump, has been one of spite and scepticism. According to transcripts, the word “invasion” was used in relation to the caravan more than 60 times on Fox news in October 2018 which further exemplifies republican, conservative response.

The consensus seems to be that the caravan is hostile in nature and aims to interfere with American democracy through vote manipulation, largely favouring the democratic party. Chris Farrell, a revered conservative author chose to comment the conflict as follows: “a criminal involvement on the part of these leftist mobs. … a highly organized, very elaborate sophisticated operation”.  

 

Like. Share. Kill.

On 23 June 2018, a series of horrifying images began to circulate on facebook.

Amongst these cruel images were depictions of severe body-mutilation, housefires, and mass grave-dumpings. BBC states that the facebook users behind the photo-scheme claimed they depicted a christian-Berom minority massacre underway in the Gashish district of Plateau State, Nigeria, carried out by Fulani muslims.

That said, the incident wasn’t entirely untrue; for a massacre did in fact happen in the Gashish district. An estimate carried out by the local police and youth leaders roughly stipulated that somewhere between 86-238 people were killed around 22 and 24 June. The killings, however, was said to have no connection to the tension between the local Fulani and Berom ethnic groups.

The images posted by the facebook users, under the guise that they were related to the Fulani and Berom ethnic groups, only served to reignite tension between the groups that far predates the recent killings in the Gashish district.

In Jos, a city in the Gashish district with an estimated population of about 1 million inhabitants, the spreading of the images consequently led to multiple executions carried out by the city’s Berom minority against the Fulani. Several Fulani muslims were later found scattered throughout the city, either in pieces, or burnt beyond recognition. As was the case for Ali Alhaji Muhammad, a local potato seller, husband, and father of 15.

Adegoke, Y. (2018, November 11). Like. Share. Kill. Hentet November 11, 2018 fra BBC: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/resources/idt-sh/nigeria_fake_news

The UK’s War on terror

The one-panel comic, which by itself seems deceptively simple, certainly attracted my attention at a first glance. However, it wasn’t necessarily the pompous illustrations, but rather the statement that came along with them that initially caught my eye.  

‘’In the name of the British monarchy, I bring you democracy!’’ The overtly patriotic soldier exclaims. There is without the slightest doubt an ironic tint to this, presumably poking fun at Britain’s involvement in the 2003 war in Iraq.

One’s ability to grasp the irony, however, is directly tied to one’s understanding of Britain’s involvement in the Iraqi war. Britain did, in 2003, send troops to war in Iraq on the premise that it possessed weapons of mass destruction.

This war, which today is looked upon as quite controversial, resulted in a staggering 150.000 dead civilians and furthermore 250.000 deaths total, including combatants.

The scarred country of Iraq has since, despite removal of large-scale US military involvement in 2011, been in an uncertain, and unfavourable position. Yet, the Iraqi people, despite the invasions intent to liberate them, most certainly got the short end of the stick, seeing as how the rate of suicide bombings and terror attacks targeting civilians dramatically spiked in the aftermath of the war.

Britain, and particularly the US, did receive a significant amount of public backlash for this. The main critique, however, didn’t stem from the invasion being such a disaster. Namely, it was in the aftermath of the invasion discovered that Iraq, at any point in time, never had any weapons of mass destruction to begin with.

That quite certainly is ironic.

TED talk

The TED talk ”Photos that bear witness to modern slavery” certainly opened my eyes to how much more common and widespread slavery is in modern society than what I had initially thought it was. Never had I imagined several generations of people enslaved by a debt as small as eighteen dollars.

I was even more surprised at the actual higher number of trafficked slaves today compared to 200 years ago. Although the talk made me feel tremendous pity towards the people affected by trafficking and slavery it also made me feel somewhat hopeful as well.

It appears political organizations such as ‘’free the slaves’’ are making good progress in halting this cruel industry and in spreading awareness of this urgent global issue.

The UN sustainable development goals

The 17 sustainable development goals certainly piqued my interest at first glance.

They were initially presented by the UN as a 15-year long plan to combat poverty, fight inequality and tackle climate change at a summit in 2015 and were swiftly adopted by world leaders across the globe consequentially rocketing the project into its initial start-up phase. 

Each of the 17 goals aim to either diminish or bolster particularly urgent aspects of our modern-day society, such as poverty or education. Personally, I hold goals 3 and 4 in high regard as I feel that they’re both crucial to help struggling countries raise their standards of living and general wellbeing.  

As for my own personal interests I would like to take a closer look at goals 15 and 9 as they very much appeal to my curiosity regarding social economics and sociology. Perhaps I could dig up some interesting statistics regarding the actual progress made by each UN country since 2015 and compare them?

Either way I very much look forward to taking a closer look at them and maybe even reading up a bit on their general effect on society and figuring out whether or whether not they’ve been as impactful as intended.