"Of Mice and Men" is a powerful and moving novel by John Steinbeck, telling of two men following their dream of independence in the midst of the Depression. The story begins in the foothills of Salinas, California, in the middle of the Great Depression. Throughout this entire novel, there are many examples of loneliness. Steinbeck stresses the theme of loneliness through the characters working on the ranch, particularly Crooks, Candy, and Curley's wife. George and Lennie are two ranch hands that travel together, with George watching over the mentally inferior Lennie. When they start work at a new ranch, several different characters are introduced. One affliction that seems to face several characters is loneliness, created by factors such as the character’s lifestyles and by social standards of the time period.
The book begins with a calm and peaceful setting of nature. ‘A few miles south of Soledad, the Salinas River drops close to the hill-side and runs deeps and green. The water is warm too, for it has slipped twinkling over the sands in the sunlight before reaching the narrow pool.’ This shows the peaceful world of nature, it is very calm and tranquil. The pool shows signs of innocence, as it are only a branch of the Salinas River. The river is a sign of the secrets and the future in nature and the novel. The deep green makes it unable to see the riverbed; this shows signs of a faint and perhaps a dangerous view of the future. Despite the movement and the motion of the river, there are still signs of loneliness; there is only the cyclical of nature. The language Steinbeck uses to describe the setting is sophisticated and formal. Steinbeck’s theme that loneliness is unhealthy and dangerous to a person’s well being is emphasized throughout the novel. This underlying theme is first introduced in the novel when George talks to Lennie about the advantage they have over other travelling workers of the time. Steinbeck presents the theme of loneliness through the characters. The language he uses to describe the landscape and characters show signs of loneliness. The character’s past reflect their loneliness and the death of both Candy’s dog and Lennie create the major theme of loneliness. Nature and animals play a large role in the story, the main comparison of man and nature is when Lennie is described as a bear. George described how other ranch hands like themselves who travelled alone had nothing to look forward to, and no one to look after them. He told Lennie how other workers would just work up a stake and blow it at a bar because they had no where else to go, no one else to look after them. George and Lennie share a bond so strong that when one is destroyed, the other inevitably is as well. Steinbeck often stresses how ranchers are loners, and George and Lennie are the only ones who travel in pairs. They seem to be two halves of the same person, and they know how special together they truly are. "Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world...They got no family. They don't belong no place...They ain't got nothing to look ahead to...With us, it ain't like that. We got a future. We got somebody to talk to that gives a damn about us...". George appreciates Lennie’s friendship because he knows that being alone can lead to a more negative view on life. Towards the end of section one, before George and Lennie reach the ranch, they camp for the night in a beautiful clearing and George assures Lennie of their special relationship. In this passage, George explains their friendship, which forms the heart of the novel.
One of the first friends they make on arrival at the new ranch is a man named Candy. Candy is another character who deals with loneliness. He is the oldest man on the ranch and is disabled. The only work he can do is cleaning out the bunkhouse and other odd jobs. His only companion is his old dog who stays by his side. His only company, his faithful, old, blind, toothless dog, is...
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