The novel Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck, is about two men who are brought together and share few good times, such as each others company, and the more overwhelmingly the bad times. Both men fight the loneliness that was ramped during the Depression. The story begins in the foothills of Salinas, California, in the middle of the Great Depression. Here we meet two men, who are able to carry all of their possessions in a bindle, and are continually planning on how to get their own land and live off of the ?fat a da land?. George, the mentally stronger of the two, tells his companion Lennie, how life is going to be on this piece of land. Lennie is constantly asking George to repeat his because it makes him feel good and this is understandable because Lennie has the mental capacity of a two year old. Before the two men are able to purchase this coveted piece of land that they are after, they need to save enough money. That is the reason they go to work on a barley ranch. This ranch will change their lives forever. While at the ranch, Lennie breaks the hand of the bosses? son and then accidentally kills the wife of the son. After Lennie kills the woman, and other previous mishaps at previous jobs, George realizes that because of Lennies mental capability, or lack of it, Lennie will continue to hurt and maybe even kill other people. George decides to shoot Lennie in fear that if anyone else will get to him, that they will hurt him. Throughout this entire novel, there are many examples of loneliness. Steinbeck stresses the theme of loneliness through the characters of Crooks, Candy, and Curley’s wife.
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The first character Steinbeck uses to express loneliness in his book is Crooks. Crooks is a crippled, black, ranch hand. He became crippled when a horse kicked him in the back. Also, because of his skin color, he is never allowed in the other men?s bunk to play cards or just hang out. Crooks is all alone in the barn and wishes he had somebody to stay with him. He showed this when he said ?S?pose you didn?t have nobody. S?pose you couldn?t go into the bunkhouse and play rummy ?cause you was black?. How?d you like that?? (Page 72) Another quote Crooks says that shows that he is lonely is when he states, ?A guy needs somebody – to be near him. A guy 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. I tell ya a guy gets too lonely an? he gets sick.? (Page 72&73)
The second character that Steinbeck uses to stress loneliness is Candy. Candy is an old ranch hand who lost his hand in a machine. Candy becomes lonely when he loses his dog. A fellow worker killed his dog after many of the men complained that the dog stunk and that it was only suffering, considering that it was not able to feed itself. He offers to help George and Lennie reach their dream of owning property if he can live with them, doing small odd jobs around the house and yard. He offers this because he is lonely and is not sure how long he will be kept around the ranch. He explains to them that he needs somewhere to go when he is let go. Andy expressed this in the novel when he says, ?When they can me here I wisht somebody?d shoot me. But they won?t do nothing like that. I won?t have no place to go, an I can?t get no more jobs.? (Page 60) Another example is when Candy misses his dog after raising it from just a little pup. This is let known when Candy says, ?I ought to of shot that dog myself, George. I shouldn?t of let no stranger shoot my dog.? (Page 61) Candy?s only dream is of always being someplace where he is accepted.
The final character that John Steinbeck emphasizes isolation in is Curley?s wife. She tells the men on the ranch how she is continually lonely and she tells Lennie how she could have been in movies and been a big star. The first example of how she is lonely is when she exclaims to Lennie, ?Why can?t I talk to you? I never get to talk to nobody. I get awful lonely.? (Page 86) She tells Lennie this after he notifies her that he is not allowed to talk to her or he will get in trouble. Another example of people not wanting to talk to her is when she says, ?Wha?s the matter with me? Ain?t I got a right to talk to nobody? What ta they think I am, anyways? You?re a nice guy. I don?t know why I can?t talk to you.? (Page 87&88) Curley?s wife yearns to have men talk to her without being afraid of Curley and what he is going to do to them.
Steinbeck expresses the theme of loneliness through the characters Crooks, Candy, and Curley?s wife. Throughout his novel, he shows different types of loneliness. Each character is being held back by their age, their skin color, or what others will think of them. For all of these people, their dreams will never come true. Crooks will die before everyone is accepted no matter what their skin color, Candy cannot stop his aging or his dream of wanting to be accepted, and Curley?s wife was killed. These three characters showed the loneliness that was present in Of Mice and Men.