John Steinbeck’s novel Of Mice and Men deals with many different themes. Revolving these themes are characters overcoming issues and conflicts in their lives. One of the themes that have created the biggest impact on the characters in the novel is loneliness. Loneliness occurres in every character’s life, and impacts it drastically. Ronald Anthony says “When we truly realize that we are alone is when we need others the most.” This quotation means a person never fully realizes the importance of a friend and the impact they can set on a life, until they are gone. This quotation is illustrated in the novel various times by the characters, Lennie, Candy, Curly’s wife, and Crooks. Each of these characters come from a small town called “Soledad” which is South of California in the Salinas Valley. Soledad means “lonely,” so clearly Steinbeck has a way of introducing words to the novel to create a lonely and blue atmosphere. Furthermore, These characters all live a life of loneliness and despair. He makes it clear that all men that work on the ranch are lonely, with particular people who are lonelier then others. There are many situations when each character feels so alone in such an ominous world. Therefore, the purpose of this essay is to clearly show the many examples where each character needs someone by their side, so they are not alone. Evidence to support the validity of this thesis will be proven throughout the remaining of the essay.
There are particular people on the ranch who may be suffering from loneliness because they do not fit in; Lennie is one of these people. Lennie is too dim to understand anything, and he seems to live in his own world most of the time. He Gray 2
becomes anxious over the littlest things. George is always keeping his eye on Lennie, and therefore Lennie is a burden to George. Lennie and George share something no other men on the ranch have, they share true friendship. They are always there for each other. When Lennie’s Aunt Clara dies, Lennie cannot survive by himself. Lennie is not responsible, nor smart enough to take care of himself. Thus, Lennie needs George the most when he is alone. This is quite evident in the novel when George says to Lennie, “ ‘No, you stay with me. Your Aunt Clara wouldn’t like you running off by yourself, even if she is dead’ ” (Steinbeck 14). Secondly, Lennie does not know the difference of who and who not to talk to. One night Lennie walks into Crook’s bunk house. Crooks did not want Lennie in there at the beginning, but after they began a conversation Crooks became curious of Lennie and George’s friendship. He began to wonder what Lennie would do with out George, because that is how Crooks feels, lonely with know one around to talk to. Crooks says to Lennie “ ‘S’pose George don’t come back no more. S’pose he took a powder and just aint coming back, What’ll you do then’ ”(Steinbeck 78). After Lennie has realized what Crooks has just said, he begins to panic. At first Lennie is in denial, but after Crooks keeps worrying Lennie, he begins to show anger and freaks out. This is a brilliant example of Lennie becoming upset and nervous when he realizes George, his best friend may not come back for him. Lennie may become lonely and unable to support himself. From the previous examples, Clearly Lennie needs George the most when he is alone and unable to help himself.
Just like Lennie, there are many other characters who suffer from loneliness. Two of these characters suffer from discrimination and prejudice, and this results in loneliness and isolation. Candy is an outcast because of his age and physical disability. His only true best friend is his dog. However, his dog is considered old and useless, which this results in Carlson shooting the helpless, innocent dog. Eventually he tries to find friendship by attempting to join George and Lennie’s dream ranch. Candy offers his money and services. Candy offers three hundred dollars, Candy knows this is...
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