" Of Mice and Men " by John Steinbeck is a novel involving two extremely different main characters. George is a reasonably intelligent, hardworking ranchman. Lennie on the other hand always manages to find trouble. He is equally as hardworking and honest as George but his simple childlike mind always finds him trouble wherever he goes. However they have one thing that unites the two of them as close as any bond can. This is that they both share the same dream of owning their own ranch and after many hard working years, moving from ranch to ranch, living in complete poverty and working for next to nothing they finally try to achieve this life long dream.
I enjoyed this novel because I found the contrast between the two main characters very interesting and wanted to try to understand why Steinbeck has chosen main characters such as George and Lennie, as the rest of the book was mainly moulded around these two specific characters. I was very involved with most aspects of the book particularly that of the setting. However I have decided my task will be to focus on the themes of friendship and loneliness.
Steinbeck writes the novel "Of mice and Men" using 3rd person narrative to show how emotionally remote the characters are and to show that they don't get to know people intimately. This for me is enhances the success of the book as it gives an equal account of all the characters feelings.
In the opening chapter Steinbeck immediately introduces the idea of loneliness and the idea of the men living very temporary lives, with no real direction. Steinbeck cleverly uses the setting to convey these ideas. The path George and Lennie are walking on is described as
" A path beaten hard by boys
and beaten hard by tramps who came wearily down from the highway in the evening to jungle up near water " and " an ash pile made by many fires "
These quotes for me convey the idea of the setting and the characters living very temporary, lonely lives. Not only do these quotes describe the setting, they also give us a detailed description of the men's tragic, isolated lives as well. For example when Steinbeck tells us about an ash pile made by many fires. He is actually making the point that the ash pile occurred from lots of men passing through that point in the forest and so they live temporary lives and are always moving from ranch to ranch and this is just like all the men on the ranch. This also shows how hard work was to find as so many wonder from place to place.
Another point about the setting that I feel relates to the men's lives is shown on p.g. 18. The description is that of the bunk house where all the ranch workers stay
" Over each bunk there was nailed an apple box with the opening forward so that it made two shelves for personal belongings "
The manner in which Steinbeck describes the bunkhouse is very similar to that of the ranchman's lives and it also shows us all they have for personal belongings is two shelves. Steinbeck shows us that by having only two shelves for belongings they live lonely insecure lives.
One man who suffers from the extremes of loneliness on the ranch is a man named Crooks
"A guy goes nuts if he ain't got nobody. Don't matter no difference who the guy is, longs he with you. I tell ya a guy gets too lonely an he gets sick"
Crooks is a black man that experiences isolation because the society in which he resides in is racist. Crooks is forced to live in the barn by him self and can not join in any social activities with the other men. The quote says "don't matter no difference who the guy is, longs he with you". I feel this makes the point that although Lennie does rely on George a lot, George also rely's on him to be a friend and the fact that Lennie is simple makes no difference because they have something which all the workers envy - friendship. Crooks is possibly the loneliest character on...
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