Loneliness and Isolation in of Mice and Men

Topics: John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men, Great Depression Pages: 5 (1792 words) Published: May 8, 2013
How does Steinbeck present loneliness and isolation in of mice and men? Loneliness and Isolation are one of the primary themes in Of Mice and Men. John Steinbeck illustrates the loneliness of the ranch life in the early 1930’and shows, how migrant workers are driven to find friendship in order to escape from isolation. The author further reinforces this theme through subtle methods by situating the story near the town of Soledad, which means "solitude" in Spanish; this alone foreshadows the novel by emphasizing isolation. Despite the need for companionship, Steinbeck presents how the nature of loneliness is sustained though the barriers established from acting inhumane to one another. Yet another aspect of loneliness which is exposed vulnerably through several characters is the idea of the American Dream, for Steinbeck teaches us that even through hard work and prosperity, it is unattainable. It is represented by Crooks, Candy, and Curley’s wife who exhibit some form of seclusion. Steinbeck uses symbolism as a way to explore loneliness. Many times in the novel, George is described as playing "solitaire." Solitaire meaning alone, is a metaphor for the loneliness that many of the characters feel in the novel. The companionship between George and Lennie epitomises the theme of loneliness in the book as their friendship ends in tragedy, suggesting that ranch works are 'the loneliest guys in the world'. The itinerant workers are caught in a trap of loneliness. They never stay in one place long enough to form permanent relationships as it would be destroyed by the demands of the itinerant life. This was what made the connection between George and Lennie, extraordinary. When George and Lennie first arrive on the ranch, the boss is suspicious of George’s intentions of when it comes to his care of lennie. ‘What stake you got in this guy? You takin’ his pay away from him?’ This shows that nobody understands friendship; as it does not exist on this ranch.To add to this, this demonstrates to the readers that solitude was common among almost all of the workers. Everyone looked after themselves as they had no one to worry or care for. When the migrate workers get their wages, most of them ‘sit in no bar room blowin’ in our jack jus’ because we got no place else to go.’ This can therefore illustrate the seclusion of many workers, showing us that they did not have much to look forward to in the future. The ranch workers suffer from loneliness because they fail to have a real home and a place to call their own. Discrimination is a form of social isolation that Steinbeck uses to show how people can be secluded from others. Take for example, Crooks, one of the most reclusive characters in the novel. The chief cause of Crook's loneliness centres on the fact that he is black and therefore Crooks must live by himself in a small room in the barn. Crook’s says miserably, ‘Cause I'm black. They play cards in there, but I can't play because I'm Black. They say I stink. Well I tell you, you all of you stink to me!’ Crooks doesn't like the way he's treated, but he is totally helpless against the racial segregation. He is forced to live in a stinking barn and is kept away from everybody.This passage highlights the need for companionship and the oppressive nature of Crooks' society. Although most of the men have no true friends, they at least get to play cards and associate with others. Crooks is rejected from every group of people and since he is forbidden to socially interact with others, he turns to books.  He has ‘a mauled copy of the California civil code for 1905’ which conveys to me that despite Crooks being motivated and strong to achieving a prosperous life, his life will never be the same. Another thing to consider is the date of the book, ‘1905’. Perhaps it represents the time when Crooks' father was a landowner and a respected person. ‘I was born right here in California. My old man had a chicken ranch,’ bout ten acres.’ This portrays that...
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