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The word nigger is used throughout Of Mice and Men. Why did Steinbeck use this word versus a less offensive word, such as Black or African American?
John Steinbeck was a racist so that would have been the only word he knew to use.
John Steinbeck's audience in 1937 would likely not have taken offense to the word, even though it was more politically correct not to use it.
The term has a negative connotation, which enhances the mood of the story and reveals the author's tone.
While this term might be offensive today, during the 1930s it had a positive connotation and was widely used.
This is the term most people used to refer to African-Americans in the 1930s so the word would help keep the dialogue historically accurate.