Loneliness Is a Recurring Theme of 'of Mice and Men'

Topics: John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men, Great Depression Pages: 9 (3299 words) Published: October 19, 2010
Coursework- Of Mice and Men

Loneliness is a recurring theme of 'Of Mice and Men' written by John Steinbeck. The theme of loneliness reflects the historical, social and cultural aspects of the text through many different ways, the two main ones being character and setting.

This novel is a reflection of what was happening in America at the time, known as the Great Depression, which was a result of the Wall Street Crash, which came about in 1929. The 1929 Wall Street Crash occurred when financial uncertainty spread after an artificial boom in share prices, frightened investors ordered their broker to sell at any price. 30 million shares were traded in the space of five days, causing the stock market to collapse. Inflations also increased rapidly and the US financial market crashed. Due to this unemployment came about resulting in migrant workers. Men mostly travelling alone, migrating from ranch to ranch, working for any pay. Showing us the economic situation, which is represented in George and Lennie's situation. Being migrant workers travelling from ranch to ranch. For example coming from weed their previous work place to the new ranch, which is miles away, ready to work at any pay.

Even though George and Lennie travel together, they still portray loneliness. George has the responsibility of Lennie and can't really have a conversation with him, as Lennie has a mentally slow mind, known as 'child like', along with a weak memory. This intellectual and social isolation. Lennie is isolated because of his mental disability. They leave Lennie behind, when the rest of the ranch workers go into town. Furthermore, the insecurity of Lennie is shown when Crooks talks about George leaving Lennie, "George wouldn't do nothing like that!" This shows antagonism of Lennie by Crooks. Crooks at this point is representing society, as Lennie is mentally disabled. Crooks being a social victim himself because of race, shows that the loneliness created Crooks to victimise another outcast of society, in this case Lennie.

George and Lennie are friends who go around together everywhere, "We got somebody to talk to that gives a damn about us," as says Lennie, but George is still lonely because Lennie is more of a responsibility than a companion, he is described in an animal like way, suggesting he has to be looked out for and looked after. This clearly shows that isolation had become wide spread through America. Everyman stood for himself and even though George had Lennie, he was still part of the loneliness that everyman suffered from in America at the time.

Every character in some way portrays loneliness. While Slim talks to George of the rarity of guys travelling together and being friends he expresses that he thinks, "…everybody in the whole damn world is scared of each other." Either way it shows us that society was scared of being ruled by one, either one race, gender etc. The only way for survival was to isolate oneself and not trust anyone.

Crooks is isolated in the barn, being the only black person on the ranch. Curley's wife is isolated being the only female on the ranch. Candy is old and disabled, his only friend, his dog and the death of his dog leaves him in desolation. These three were the main types of people facing social discrimination.

Crooks is isolated in the barn, despite having a name he is referred to as the 'Nigger', showing the lack of respect for his individual identity. Fir example when Candy was referring to a previous event, he talks about him as "...they let the nigger come in that night". This demonstrating racial discrimination of the 1930's in two ways. One calling him 'Nigger' and two by the very speech itself, 'come in that night' stating he isn't wanted and usually pushed out, so letting him 'come in' was a huge issue. Crooks isolated him self so he doesn’t have to endure the negativity. He doesn’t try to be liked or mix with the others because he knows how he shall be treated by them. The reason...
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