Loneliness and Isolation in of Mice and Men

Topics: Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck, Great Depression Pages: 6 (2476 words) Published: October 15, 2011
Loneliness In Of Mice And Men

‘Of mice and men’ is a tale of loneliness and hardship felt by the people living in America during the 1930's. Written by John Steinbeck and published in 1937, it tells the heartbreaking story of two ranch workers during the depression; George Milton and Lennie Small. At the time America was very poor, with a shortage of jobs so people had to travel in search of new jobs. As many people were constantly moving, lasting friendships or relationships were hard to come across. People became scared to have friendships, scared of each other making them lonely and isolated. Most of the characters lived by ‘every man for himself’; only having to care for themselves, not having to worry about others and therefore making it easy to move on when need be. However, George and Lennie are vastly different; they have each other, they have grown up together, they travel together, they’re best friends and they depend on each other. George and Lennie keep each other going. George depends on Lennie for physical protection, whereas Lennie needs George for mental protection; George is the thinker but Lennie’s the fighter. They rely on each other to balance things out. Lennie is George’s muscle; he is a huge man and as strong as bull. He helps him to get jobs on ranches, as he is a good worker. Also Lennie would rather die than see George hurt, so he would protect him with his life. While George is Lennie’s brains, as Lennie is mentally retarded so incapable of making any decision on his own, but George is quick witted and shrewd, so tries to stop Lennie from making accidental problems for himself, although when things do go wrong George is the one that has to clean up the mess. When they first arrive at the ranch some of the characters are surprised or confused about the friendship, “Well, I never seen one guy take so much trouble for another guy. I just like to know what your interest is”. The ranch owner asks George this as he isn’t used to men just doing things for other men just because they’re friends, so George tells him they’re cousins, which they aren’t but Lennie’s aunt has brought up George so he feels like he must look after him now she’s dead. Lennie and George share a secret dream that, one day they will build a life together on a ranch and ‘livin’ off the fatta the lan’. Most of the characters have a dream, and it’s their dreams that help them survive through this period, because without dreams there is no hope for a better life, a life without solitude. Right from the start, the book indicates the theme of solitude, as Soledad; where the scene is set, means solitude in Spanish (Soledad is in California, which was invaded by Mexico). Soledad is also described as a small town with a large heart, this could describe George. "Guys like us, that live on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world." George is echoing this fact of loneliness which other characters will later mirror. He knows that without Lennie he would be alone, yet he is still lonely in his relationship with Lennie, as they are both on different levels. George needs someone on his wave length but Lennie is like a child, so George sometimes gets lonely looking after Lennie. Steinbeck uses animals in the book to paint a picture of a person, or to symbolize a meaning or action. Lennie is portrayed as different animals quite regularly. To begin with he is compared to a bear "...and he walked heavily, dragging his feet a little, the way a bear drags his paws.". We can now picture the way Lennie walks heavily and slowly, as he is giant like a bear. The next thing he does is very animal-like; he drops to his knees and slurps water from the river, just like a horse or a dog. "You'd drink out of a gutter if you was thirsty." From George’s comment we now see a man with a lack of intelligence who drinks like an animal. Then he is described as a terrier, “Slowly, like a terrier who doesn't want to bring a ball to its master, Lennie...
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