Loneliness in John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men

Topics: Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck, Great Depression Pages: 10 (3458 words) Published: January 26, 2013
The novel of mice and men by John Steinbeck was set During the great Depression.  In this time it seemed that everybody is afraid of everybody. The novel, Of Mice And Men, deals with the issue of loneliness.   Loneliness affects many of the characters, and Steinbeck seems to show that it is a natural and inevitable result of the kind of life they are forced to lead. 

Every character in the story exhibits loneliness. Curley's wife seeks the attention of the farm hands as a substitute for the lack of attention from  Curley. Crooks keeps to himself because he believes that the white people want nothing to do with a Negro. Candy's only friend is his dog, and when his dog dies, he despairs. Each of the characters in the story is attracted to the plans of Lennie and George. As they fantasize about a future together, their loneliness subsides momentarily. 

  George's loneliness is fairly understandable. he has been given the responsibility to look after a man who for all his good intentions may as well be a child. Although George deep down appreciates having a friend to travel with, he gets angry when Lennie's ignorance gets them in trouble and ruins any chances George may have of making friends of his own intellectual level. However, despite all this he cares about Lennie.

            When geroge and lennie arrive on the ranch the meet candy, curly, cyrly's wife, slim, crooks and carlson. Through meeting these men it is brought to your attention that not only George and Lennie are lonely, vulnerable and isolated. Loneliness pervades the lives of all those living on the  ranch, too. 

            Candy, once an old ranch worker, is now confined to the mundane job of cleaning. He lost his hand at some point and has only a stump to show, which may have hindered his career as a ranch worker- we do not know Candy's background and how long he was like that for. However, it is apparent that he is isolated by his disability, just as Lennie is isolated by his mental retardation. He has only a dog for a companion, a mongrel he has had since it was a pup. The dog used to be a fine sheepdog, but not unlike Candy, it is now viewed as being no longer of any use or purpose. Carlson insists that the dog be shot- after much convincing he takes the dog outside and kills it. This is devastating for Candy- not only was the creature his main friend and ally in a way, but he had allowed another man to kill it. If it was to be killed, he insists later, he should have done it himself. He has no relatives, and once his dog is killed is totally alone. He eagerly clutches at the idea of buying a farm with George and Lennie, but of course this all comes to nothing. After this incident Candy seeks solace in George and Lennie's dream- he hangs onto the notion that one day these men will take him with them to their own little Utopia- their own place, with chickens and pigs and alfalfa... and, of course, rabbits for Lennie. He is a prime example of the loneliness ranchmen suffered from- in his earlier days, with his ambling lifestyle, bearing in mind the difficulties of living in such a time, he finds it nearly impossible to make a friend, because he was always moving on and on, in search of better work and more money. Now he has finally put his roots down (in admittedly weak soil) and is still finding the inability to make good friends and keep them: because, this time, it is they who are moving away from him. The itinerant workers are caught in a trap of loneliness - they never stay in one place long enough to form permanent relationships. Even if such relationships existed, they would probably be destroyed by the demands of the nomadic life. This makes him bitter, yet he remains hopeful- that is, until he arrives on the scene where only minutes earlier the boss's son's wife and Lennie had talked. Her dead body lies alone, loosely covered in hay. After this his optimism is dashed- Candy's disappointment is expressed in the bitter words he...
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