The character of Crooks in the novel is a key point of symbolising the black people community (as he is called nigger) occurring at the time in which the novel is set. He provides an insight into The American Dream and ranchers feelings and dreams: loneliness, their need for company and their own land dream. Crooks is the point where the reader has to decide whether he deserves sympathy or he is just a strange, cruel, nigger stable buck.
Crooks is a disabled black man, in the novel referred as a nigger, meant to be a white insult. He has a crooked back since he was hit by a horse. He is described as a strange man staying alone in his room reading books. He is rejected by almost everybody, because of his skin colour. (They dont allow him in their places except only for Christmas when he even had to fight with somebody about that). Crooks really resents this fact which has made him cruel, self-pity, gruff and accepting the stage of being less human than the others. As he says "If I say something, why it's just a nigger sayin' it" showing his anger about being pushed to the side. He says to Lennie "You got no right to come in my room.....You go on get outa my room. I ain't wanted in the bunkhouse and you ain't wanted in my room." He continues by saying that the whites believe he stinks and one can interpret this as a way of saying that the whites would find it a disgrace that a nigger should breathe the same bunkhouse air as them. "S'pose you couldn't go into the bunkhouse and play rummy 'cause you was black...Sure, you could play horseshoes 'til dark, but then you have to read books." shows that Crooks pities his own circumstances. However "his tone was a little more friendly" and "I didn't mean to scare you" gives us the impression that Crooks has a kind heart under his cynical exterior.
Crooks also brings to the readers mind the loneliness experienced by the all characters in the novel. He says :"Sure, you could play horseshoes till it got dark, but then you got to read books. Books ain't no good. A guy needs someone - to be near him. A guys goes nuts if he ain't got nobody. Don't make no difference who the guy is, long's he's with you. I tell ya, a guy gets too lonely, an' he gets sick." He is telling of the need for interaction, the need for someone to care about you and provide love to you. John Steinbeck is portraying here the feelings of Americans of his day and age: their aloneness and their salvation - in the American Dream.
Apparently , his treatment and the fact that he cant benefit from the human nature has made him think in a cynical way. Whenever the American Dream(when Lennie tells him about his dream of having his own land and having a happy time playing with rabbits) is mentioned he dismisses it. "I seen hundreds of men come by on the road an' on the ranches with their bindles on their backs an' that same damn thing in their heads. Hundreds of them. They come, an' they quit an' go on......An' never a god-damn one of 'em gets it." This harsh realism gives us the impression that Crooks has no hope. However when he says "I remember when I was a little kid....had a strawberry patch. Had an alfalfa patch....Used to turn the chickens out on the alfalfa on a sunny morning" reinforces the idea that everybody has a dream and although he is pessimistic he dreams about experiencing his childhood joys again.
Should we now interpret Crooks as a cruel, ignorant and unimportant nigger?! After all he lives alone in a stinky barn and yet nobody cares about him. He is just a nigger but under his rough black shell there is humanity and all the qualities of a good man. Crooks gives us the most obvious image relate to the real life in the novel: its feelings, hopes, fears and injustices.