Companionship: Man’s Saving Grace
The world is a deadly, unforgiving, often cosmically ironic place and people become all consumed by it. They lose sight of their goals. They lose sight of their dreams. Mentally, people struggle to maintain sanity in their game of life that has no set rules. Of Mice and Men happens to portray the inequality between dreams of people and what can actually be attained. The setting in Of Mice and Men is a perfect example of how unequal the ideals and the realities are. The lush fields of California that seem bountiful, beautiful, and full of plenty severely contrast the economic situation of the time period in Of Mice and Men. Migrant workers work in an environment full of what seems like hope but are surrounded by the reality of their destitute, paycheck-to-paycheck, lifestyle. In this world of despair, some find hope, not in their dreams or in their hopes, but in having a companion to fight their own personal battle with. This idea of companionship is a motif in Of Mice and Men. Companionship seems to provide relief to those ailing in the world through the inexplicableness of love.
Candy demonstrates how the companionship of something familiar, something friendly, brings hope, and provides a way to make ones way through one’s life journey. At first, Candy has his dog, his unwaveringly faithful friend. Candy’s dog, despite being non-human, is a sentient being that Candy relies upon. Psychologically, when people cannot care for themselves to the degree they wish, the ability to protect and provide sustenance for a lesser creature or person provides a sense of accomplishment that they cannot attain in any other way. Candy cares for his dog and despite the fact that many see it as a worthless “object”, “‘Got no teeth, he's all stiff with rheumatism. He ain't no good to you, Candy. An' he ain't no good to himself. Why'n't you shoot him, Candy?’ (Steinbeck 22), Candy continues to see the dog as his friend in a world of loneliness; a barrier between himself and despair. Despite having this intense emotional connection between his dog and himself, Candy allows his dog to be shot, “A shot sounded in the distance. The men looked quickly at the old man. Every head turned toward him” (Steinbeck 24). At this point, Candy has reached a point of despair; he is a wreck of a man, “For a moment he continued to stare at the ceiling. Then he rolled slowly over and faced the wall and lay silent.” (Steinbeck 24). However, soon after Candy begins to despair, he finds companionship and hope in the way that many who seek these do. Candy “finds” George and Lennie, he finds hope in a new dream and has a new faith in the world due to his companionship with those who came to his aid when he needed it most, “When candy spoke, they both jumped as if they had been doing something reprehensible. Candy said, ‘You know where’s a place like that?’ George was on guard immediately… ‘S’pose I went in with you guys. Tha’s three hundred an’ fifty bucks I’d put in. I ain’t much good but I could cook and tend the chickens and hoe the garden some’” (Steinbeck 29). The way George and Lennie support Candy when he needs it speaks to the general idea of the Depression that when everyone in society suffers, everyone must lean on each other to survive. However, more than anything, Lennie and George’s support of Candy shows how companionship is the most dominant overarching power in keeping people strong and away from feeling engulfed by the world.
Where companionship does not exist, loneliness does. This proves to be the case when regarding Curley’s wife. She had once been a woman of hope and dreams, “‘Nother time I met a guy, an’ he was in pitchers. Went out to the Riverside Dance Palace with him. He says he was gonna put me in the moves. Says I was a natural. Soon’s he got back to Hollywood he was gonna write to me about it’” (Steinbeck 43). Unfortunately,...