A drawing by David Smith titled “Private Law and Order Leagues,” depicting vigilante justice in America, 1938-39.
In the mid-1930s, Smith started sketching for a series of fifteen relief sculptures he called “Medals for Dishonor”—an ironic reference to the nation’s highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor. Smith believed that groups such as the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) represented fascism in America. In the background of this study, KKK hats mimicking mountains surround a lynching tree. This drawing portrays the horrors of vigilante justice in the guise of law and order. In a particularly bleak scene in Of Mice and Men, Steinbeck portrays race relations during the 1930s when Curley’s wife interacts with Crooks, the only black man on the ranch.