The novel ï¿½Of Mice and Menï¿½ was written by John Steinbeck and was set in the 1930s around the time of The Wall Street Crash. The workplace was a very hostile environment and there was a general feeling of mistrust amongst people. The amount of jobs was low and the pay was even lower. Men travelled around the country in solitude searching for work and happiness.
In the novel ï¿½Of Mice and Menï¿½ there is a distinctive theme of loneliness and prejudice, a example of a sufferer of these two themes is Crooks. Crooks worked as a stable buck on the ranch. He was a highly skilled craftsman though nobody seemed to notice this. All of Crooksï¿½ good points were hidden by what he wasï¿½ though intelligent and skilled, he was black.
Different to many black families living at that time Crooks enjoyed a happy childhood and didnï¿½t look or want for anything apart from others like himself:-
ï¿½There wasnï¿½t another coloured family for miles aroundï¿½
This quotation shows that despite having a happy childhood he was lonely and things still hadnï¿½t changed:-
ï¿½There ainï¿½t a coloured on this ranchï¿½
Despite the fact that time has moved on Crooks is still lonely, heï¿½s still trapped in his coloured outer shell, though beneath his skin he is still just like other men.
When Lennie visits Crooksï¿½ room however he feels he has rights and is desperate to protect them, he does this by being hostile towards Lennie however his hostility soon turns into bitterness. Though Lennie doesnï¿½t notice this and soon Crooks realises Lennieï¿½s childlike tendencies and begins to confide in him knowing there is no danger of anyone finding out his secrets.
Lennie is a very childlike person and is isolated by his mental capacity and this often leads to trouble. For example:-
ï¿½He reaches out to feel this red dress anï¿½ the girl lets out a squawk, and that gets Lennie all mixed up and he holds on ï¿½cause thatï¿½s the only thing he can think to doï¿½
Lennie is very immature and childlike and doesnï¿½t realise his own strength. When Lennie gets in trouble all he can think to do is hold on to the nearest thing, like heï¿½s waiting for someone to come and rescue him.
Lennie and George are very close friends. Lennie is very dependant on George who attempts to take on a paternal role over Lennie. Lennie desperately tries to imitate him. Theyï¿½ve only got each other:-
ï¿½I got you to look after me and you got me to look after youï¿½
Despite that at that there was a deep sense of mistrust George and Lennie stuck together and unlike many others they trusted and loved each other.
Although Lennie is trapped in his own mind he isnï¿½t as lonely as others, he doesnï¿½t need human company, he is very tactile and occupied easily:-
ï¿½He jusï¿½ wanted to touch that red dress like he wants to pet them pups all the timeï¿½
All Lennie needs is material things to entertain him.
George has a hard time looking after Lennie and because of this he is lonely. George has no family and with Lennie around it is unlikely he will be able to settle down with a family of his own. He has been taking care of Lennie since he got to know him so he hasnï¿½t really had much of a life George acknowledges the fact that Lennie isnï¿½t ï¿½brightï¿½:-
ï¿½Heï¿½s dumb as hell ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½.but I ainï¿½t so bright neitherï¿½
George knows what it is that makes Lennie lonely and tries to change it by saying that he isnï¿½t that much different from him. However dumb George may be he can foresee the future:-
ï¿½I never seen no piece of jail bait worse than herï¿½
He describes Curleyï¿½s wife as trouble despite only just meeting her.
Curleyï¿½s wife in my opinion is the loneliest character in the book. Steinbeck doesnï¿½t even give her a name, she is merely referred to as Curleyï¿½s wife when spoken about. She hastily married Curley without actually getting to know him, she soon regrets when she finds out how boring he is so she then turns to the other men to flirt with.
Curleyï¿½s wife is the only woman on the ranch and has no contact with the outside world. She just constantly wanders about the ranch aimlessly looking for something:-
ï¿½Iï¿½m looking for Curleyï¿½
ï¿½Sometimes Curleyï¿½s in hereï¿½
ï¿½Iï¿½m tryinï¿½ to find Curleyï¿½
She uses the excuse that she is looking for Curley so she cam talk and flirt with the men, an excuse to have someone to talk to.
She knows that Curley doesnï¿½t care for her really:-
ï¿½Think I donï¿½t know where they all wentï¿½
She is fully aware that Curley has gone to the brothel which is hypocritical of him, as if Curleyï¿½s wife flirts with the other men on the ranch there is trouble. This shows the lack of equality between men and women at that time and this makes woman lonely because of their own sex.
Curleyï¿½s wife led an eventful life and only in death is she finally laid to rest:-
ï¿½The meannessï¿½ï¿½…the planning’sï¿½ï¿½.the discontent and the ache for attention were all gone from her faceï¿½
She is finally herself, not an act put on to impress others into liking her, though despite this Candy still dislikes her. She ruined his dream.
Candy is the cleaner on the ranch. He ahs only one hand due to an accident. Candy had one true friend in life that was always there for him, his dog. His dog was shot early on in the book because he was old and useless and got in everyone’s way a fate which Candy fears will happen to him. The ranch is Candyï¿½s life , he has nowhere else to go, no family, no money to live on, no further prospects.
When George and Lennie first arrived on the ranch Candy was the first character they came across and he is the one who ï¿½fills them inï¿½ on the ranchï¿½s history:-
ï¿½donï¿½t tell Curley I said none of thisï¿½
At first Candy isnï¿½t too sure of George and Lennie and is nervous for his job, however he soon realises they are on his side:-
ï¿½Curley better not make no mistakesï¿½
Straight away George dislikes Curley and itï¿½s almost like he is showing Candy that he approves of his opinion.
The one thing all the main characters in the book have is that they all have a dream, the typical American dream. They all dream of success and something that they can call their own, their territory. They believe that through hard work and trust in each other that they can do it. George, Lennie and Candy all share the same dream of being
Together and sharing their riches, Curleyï¿½s wife however dreams of stardom and wants everyone to know who she is. Her dream is less likely to happen and less believable as she is too gullible:-
ï¿½Son’s he got back to Hollywood he was gonna write to meï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½..I never got that letterï¿½.I always thought my old lady stole itï¿½
None of it was true, there wasnï¿½t a letter just men attempting to take advantage of her.
In the need everyone’s dream was wrecked. Lennie murdered Curleyï¿½s wife and in doing so was killed himself. George was alone and Candy was stuck on the ranch for the rest of his life.
In my opinion the book was well written and showed many different aspects of loneliness. In their own different ways every character in the novel was lonely and Steinbeck emphasised each of these in their turn.