Steinbeck raises questions in the mind of the reader that the novel would be based on loneliness. The first line read "A few miles south of Soledad". This is a clever idea by Steinbeck as "Soledad" means loneliness in Spanish. The title "Of Mice and Men" may be seen as a warning for the whole novel as it came from Robbie Burns’ poem "To a Mouse" which translates as `no matter how well we plan the future, things often go wrong'.
The setting of Steinbeck's novel is very important because the date when the novel took place was in 1929, around the time New York Wall Street stock market collapsed, resulting in the dollar becoming worthless. Unemployment was high at this time and men had to move around a lot looking for work, which meant they were never in one place long enough to form any relationships, so this was a very lonely existence.
Steinbeck shaped the ranch where George Milton and Lennie Small worked in as an isolated and primitive place. Steinbeck uses his personal experience as a ranch worker to describe how the working men at the ranch felt in the novel. George says that "ranch workers are the loneliest people in the world and don't belong nowhere".
Steinbeck also portrays loneliness through characterisation. He uses sexism, racism and ageism to get his message across.
One example of this is when George meets the old, decaying Candy and...