Loneliness: The Bane of Happiness
Loneliness is a crucial theme in the novel Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. It deals with people who don’t fit into society, who are not accepted by other people and who are discriminated against. The novel takes place near a town called Soledad, which means “solitude” in Spanish. Steinbeck uses concepts such as ageism, racism and sexism to portray loneliness. Loneliness is an integral theme in the novel, and is expertly portrayed and developed by Steinbeck throughout the novel.
Candy and his dog are great examples of Steinbeck’s portrayal of loneliness and discrimination caused by handicaps and ageism. Candy has had his dog since it was a pup and he loves it even though it has outlived its usefulness. Loneliness hits Candy hard when his dog is shot. He is haunted by the thought that he will also be cast out when he becomes utterly useless. In an attempt to escape that fate, Candy tries convincing George and Lennie to take him with them when they buy their own ranch. Candy offers to pay his entire life’s savings of $350 to contribute to their cause. “I’d make a will an’ leave my share to you guys in case I kick off, ‘cause I ain’t got no relatives nor nothing” (65). The fact that Candy was willing to write them a will in case he died shows the true extent of his loneliness. It shows how desperate he was to acquire companionship, and how much he feared being lonely. Crooks represents someone who is lonely due to racism. He spends most of his time in his room, bitter and alone as he is ostracized by the white men because he is the only black man on the ranch. Crooks isn’t allowed into the bunkhouse with all the white men, despite Crooks being a descendant of free landowners. This discrimination leads to severe loneliness for Crooks, which is depicted when he asks to be involved in George and Lennie’s dream. However, he quickly withdraws his request when he realizes the futility of a dream for untarnished happiness. He...
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