the great american dust bowl

‘Of Mice and Men’

Key themes
- the American Dream
- violence on the ranch
- objectification of women
- loneliness and isolation

Context [AO4]
- sexism
- racism
- ranch life
- the Great Depression
- the dust bowl
- the American Dream
- women’s rights in the 1930s

Main Characters
- George
- Lennie
- Crooks
- Curley’s Wife
- Curley
- Candy
- Slim

Mindoir and Driving

The colony on Mindoir was initially established in a region known as the Great Basin. The Basin is a former sea bed which has been tectonically stable for millions of years. Extensive watering by steams has covered the entire region with a deep layer of sediment, resulting in a landscape that is flat as a board and extremely fertile. Advertisements recruiting colonists compared the area to the North American Great Plains, pre-Dust Bowl. (Colonists were reassured that modern farming techniques and technology would prevent a re-enactment of the Dust Bowl.)

In the 22nd century, most mechanized farm equipment is operated by VIs, but it’s considered prudent to send an organic life form along to keep an eye on the VI in case it does something stupid. The first shipments of farm equipment to Mindoir came with an especially flaky group of VIs. The colony didn’t have enough adults to detail to mind all the VIs (not to mention all the work that wouldn’t get done if they were doing so), so children aged 12-16 or so typically were dispatched to babysit the VIs. The children of the colony promptly figured out how to override the VIs and operate the farm equipment manually, and tractor races became a popular pastime.

Shepard, on the other hand, preferred to take the farm machinery out past the limits of the colony’s farms, far from any people, and look out over the native landscapes of Mindoir. This was originally part of her unending search for the “interesting” alien life she belived she would one day find. (The common fauna of Mindoir resemble couch cushions in both appearance and temperament.) As she grew older and more dissatisfied with colonial life, she took to the edges of the colony just to be away from everyone, especially her parents.

Given the flat, almost featureless local geography, navigating on Mindoir was basically a matter of pointing the vehicle toward your destination and driving in a straight line. Shepard had little opportunity to drive after the colony’s destruction - until she was given access to the Mako, which she drove exactly the way she’d learned to drive in Mindoir.