In ‘of men and mice’ steinbeck explores loneliness and the ways in which characters try to escape the isolation in which their situation, at that time, and in that culture, places them. Discuss this view in relation to the novel.
I am going to discuss the view, that ‘In of men and mice’ steinbeck explores loneliness and the ways in which characters try to escape their isolation. The characters I am going to discuss are Candy, Curley’s wife, Crooks, Lennie and George. The characters in this novel experience loneliness for different reasons. Some of these reasons include race, gender and being of a lower class.
Steinbecks choice of town, Soledad, which means ‘loneliness’ in Spanish, focuses the reader on one of the main themes of the text. The Great Depression was an economic downturn which started in 1929 and lasted through most of the 1930s. It was centred in North America and Europe, but had devastating effects around the world, particularly in industrialized countries and producers of raw materials.
Following the First World War a recession in America in conjunction with a seven year drought, which started in 1931 led to many farmers loosing their farms. By 1933 25% of the population were unemployed
In 1937, the American economy took an unexpected nosedive that continued through most of 1938. Production declined sharply, as did profits and employment. Unemployment jumped from 14.3% in 1937 to 19.0% in 1938. This lead to a lot of migrant farmers going around California looking for work like many of the characters in ‘of mice and men’.
The great depression was also a time of much racism against black people, slavery may have been 50 years ago but they still weren’t given the same rights such as equal salary and right to vote. There was also a lack of help for the sick and elderly. attitudes to women
Candy is the first character that George and Lennie meet at the ranch. Unlike the rest of the men, candy works around the ranch yard. Candy was different to the other men, the other men, all loners and migrant workers, cannot understand the idea of friend ship and simply want the dog shot because it was no longer useful and is a nuisance in the bunkhouse, although that didn’t matter to Candy because his dog was the equivalent to a friend ‘I had him since he was a pup’. he sees lenny and george as a way to overcome his lonines, he had a dream of joining them on their dream of owning their own house and working of the ‘fat of the land’. He offers them money because he says’ I aint got no relatives or nothing’ this also adds to his loneliness. ‘they’ll can me purty soon…I wont have no place to go’ this shows that he doesn’t think his job is secure and he knows that his future is more loneliness than death.
His answer shows the comfort he gains from his new friends and the thourght of the fact his loneliness might soon end you can see this when crooks sneers at the idea of them owning their own place , crooks says ‘we gonna do it…me and Lennie and George’. When he sees his dream collapse he takes out his anger on curleys wifes dead corpse, ‘you wasn’t no good… I could of hoed the garden and washed the dishes for them guys’ but now there is only his lonely old aged existence on the ranch.