The Theme Of Loneliness In John Steinbeck’s Of Mice And Men
In the novella, Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck shows that loneliness is a recurring theme throughout. Loneliness is defined as sadness due to not having a friend or a companion. Without one, they can suffer with depression and solitude. During the period of time, the Great Depression and the discrimination of African-American People were still present. This was also a huge impact that could have caused the loneliness with the characters. Throughout the novella, many of the characters showed a very strong sign of loneliness and a need for companionship. Candy, Curley’s wife, and Crooks tried coping with their lives normally, but loneliness stepped them back from moving forward.
One of the characters, Candy, was very lonely. He was very old and crippled. Candy had lost one of his arms on the ranch; that is the only reason they let him stay and be a swamper. Candy would have been no help on the ranch for only having one arm. While in the bunkhouse, Candy heard George and Lennie talk about their American Dream. Candy started getting interested and said, “S’pose I went in with you guys. Tha’s three hundred an’ fifty I’d put in. I ain’t much good, but I could cook and tend the chickens and hoe the garden some”. Candy is willing to offer all he had to join George and Lennie on their dream; it was now his dream too. Candy immediately adapted to their plan to try to get rid of his loneliness. Candy had recently lost his companion, which caused his loneliness to become worse. Candy said, ‘You seen what they done to my dog tonight? They say he wasn’t no good to himself nor nobody else…… I’d oughtta of shot that dog myself, George, I shouldn’t oughtta of let no stranger shoot my dog”. Candy lost his only companion and felt that it was his fault. He thought that he shouldn’t have let a stranger kill his dog. Candy’s only friend that he had was the dog and being killed by Carlson caused Candy to be more lonely. He tried coping with loneliness by adapting to the American Dream.
Another character who was lonely was Curley’s wife, being the only female on the ranch has its limitations. She is married to Curley, yet she is extremely lonely. She married Curley to get back at her mom for ruining her dream. He would restrict her from talking to other guys, but she would still try to talk to them. This made her seem flirtatious and they called her a “tart”. One day she encountered Lennie in the barn. At first Lennie remembered what George told him to stay away from Curley’s wife, she’s trouble. Then she said to Lennie, “Why can’t I talk to you? I never get to talk to nobody. I get awful lonely”. Curley’s wife admitted herself that she is lonely. She could never talk to other people because of Curley. She would try and try but that only create a name for herself. A way she tried coping with loneliness is by going around and looking for Curley around the ranch just to talk to the other men. That day, when she ran into Lennie; they started talking and she told him about her dream. She wanted to be an actress, but that never happened but talking to Lennie ended her American Dream.
The final character who was extremely lonely was Crooks. During the Great Depression, the discrimnation of African-American people were still present. His race physically separated him from the other men and forced him to stay in the harness room. Crooks’ crooked back like Candy has limited social or work contact with the other men. One day, Lennie was in the barn and saw a light. He entered and saw Crooks, then they started talking about the land. After Candy entered looking for Lennie and joined the conversation. After having trouble with Curley’s wife, Crooks said,” Maybe you guys should go. I ain’t sure I want you in here no more. A colored man got to have some rights even if he don’t like ‘em”. After having that conversation, Crooks felt that they should leave. He is only comfortable with some people. When other people come he feels threatened and he wants to still show that African American people still have the rights. After Crooks saw how he was treated, the only way he could deal with loneliness was to accept it. He can’t change the way he looks or how he is treated for his race, but he knows he still have freedom and rights. He is interested in the American Dream but later on said he doesn’t care; he realized that would never happen. Crooks has to accept being lonely and hope that it will later on get better.
In conclusion, Candy, Curley’s wife, and Crooks were the three most prominent characters to be lonely. Candy lost one of his arms on the ranch, which is the only reason they let him stay. He also lost his only companion, the dog. Candy felt that it was his fault. Curley’s wife, being the only on the ranch, is hard. She tried working around her loneliness by talking to other men, but that only ended horribly. Crooks, being African-American plays a big part in loneliness. He was separated from the other men because of his race. They all tried dealing with loneliness, but it was never successful. Loneliness can be hard sometimes, there are many ways to fix that. All people need at least a companion to talk to and to know that they are worthy. The characters in Of Mice and Men don’t receive that. They tried in their own ways to receive the love and care they need to not feel lonely anymore, but during that period of time loneliness is very common.
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