Loneliness in 'of Mice and Men'

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‘Guys like us, that live on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world’ ‘Of Mice and Men’ is written by John Steinbeck, published in 1937. The novel is set in the 1930s during the great depression in California. The two protagonist characters, George and Lennie are farm workers who have a dream of one-day owning their own ranch. They find work in a ranch near Soledad, after escaping from Weed because of George’s incident. They are met by different characters on the farm that all have a dream. To be lonely means to lack friends or companionship and to feel isolated. Most of the characters are lonely and the only thing that keeps them alive is their dreams. Some of the loneliest characters they meet are Candy, an old man with only one hand, Crooks, a black cripple and Curley’s Wife, a woman who has no identity; she is lonely even though she is married. Although they are all on the ranch together, they are lonely because of who they are and their history. ‘Of Mice and Men’ is an emotional story with many different themes and characters. This essay will describe the way loneliness is portrayed in ‘Of Mice and Men.’ The setting of the novel is destined for loneliness. Soledad is short for the town’s full name, ‘Nuestra Senora de Soledad’ which means ‘Our Lady of Loneliness’. This is the town that is closest to the ranch, a place that is already full of lonely, solitary people. The name of the closest town being Soledad, we understand that loneliness is some kind of vicious circle, because on the ranch they are already lonely, and going to town to fight that loneliness will not help since it is called this. ‘Guys like us, that live on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world.’ George means that if not for each other, then he and Lennie would be all alone, with no friends, like all the men like them, who are nomads working from ranch to ranch without making any friends, and living a lonely, solitary life. Clinging to each other in their loneliness and isolation, George and his Lennie dream, as drifters will, of a place to call their own, but we can attribute another meaning to this sentence. George and Lennie are very different, physically as well as mentally, even though they talk to each other, we can sense that they are both on a different level. George is a smart, quick-witted man, who seems to need mental stimulation from a companion, which he cannot have in his relationship with Lennie. Lennie does not always understand what George is talking about, as Crooks points out ‘Sometimes he talks, and you don’t know what the hell he’s talkin’ about. Aint’ that so? Jus’ talks on, an’ you don’t know what the hell it’s all about?’ Even though they have each other, they are still both lonely at a certain level, but as Crooks also points out ‘it don’t make no difference’, what he means that it is not what is being said that is important, the important thing is human relationships and being together. George Milton and Lennie Small are friends who travel together. They both share the same dream, which is to one day own their own ranch. George is quick-witted and intelligent. He takes the parental role of looking after Lennie, a simple-minded man who in the play is described as a giant. Lennie is kind hearted with huge physical strength. He does not know how powerful he is and likes to pet animals. The other men on the ranch find their relationship unusual, they do not know of their past. George describes himself and Lennie as the loneliest guys in the world. George feels sorry for himself; he can see the reality of being a ranch-hand. This loneliness therefore makes both him and Lennie have a dream that motivates him to work. It is the one thing that they are living for. The boss believes that George is exploiting Lennie. The other men come to see that their friendship is built upon loneliness. Others such as Crooks, Candy, Curley’s wife and maybe Slim are jealous of their relationship. Although both George and Lennie are close...
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