Loneliness in Of Mice and Men
One of the most important themes in Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck is loneliness. Multiple characters in this book are lonely, and all in very different ways. Lennie is a very lonely character. Because of his mental capacity people do not understand him. Curley’s wife is one of the most obvious lonely characters because the only person she can talk to is her husband. Another lonely character is George even though on the outside he does not seem lonely at all.
Lennie Small has always been a lonely person; his only true friend is George. Before George and Lennie started traveling together the only person who cared for Lennie was his Aunt Clara. George was still there, but he would always convince Lennie to do random things like jump into a deep river (44), and he was not that great of a friend. When Lennie’s Aunt Clara died, George was forced to become Lennie’s guardian (44). However, because George was forced into it, he still does not become Lennie’s true friend. Eventually George starts really caring about Lennie and becomes his one true friend. Everybody who gets to know Lennie either hates him, like Curley, because he is so big and mentally slow, or they just feel pity for him, like Slim. The sad part about Lennie is that he does not even realize that nobody truly likes him besides George. Distracted, he is off in his own little world thinking about rabbits while everyone else tries to avoid him. It is sad to watch how helpless Lennie is even though he is the strongest guy around. Lennie is always trying to find comfort in small soft objects. However, because of his inhuman strength he always ends up killing whatever he pets, from mice to puppies and eventually to a human. Lennie is stuck in a hole of loneliness and when he finds something soft and comforting he rises out of that hole a little bit. However, once he ends up killing it he sinks deeper into the hole, and the deeper he goes the harder it is for him to emerge from it.
Curley’s wife is easily the most obvious lonely character. She can only talk to Curley because he is her husband and he seems to be kind of an obsessive husband too. She is always trying to get away form him for a little bit and talk to the other men who work on the farm. When she is first introduced, the reader is given the impression that she is a slut and wants to be with other men besides her husband. Later the reader finds out that she is just a very lonely person. She talks to Lennie about how she thought she could have had a life as an actress, but her mother did not want that and she ended up marrying Curley even though she does not love him (97). She wishes she could go back to the days before she married Curley and how she would be able to do all the things she never got a chance to do. All of the men on the ranch view her as a slut just trying to get attention. However, she really just wants to have a normal conversation with somebody other than her husband. Since the men do not realize this they shun her even more and that just makes her lonelier than ever. John Steinbeck also specifically labels her as a lonely, misunderstood character by simply not giving her a name. Throughout the entire novel she is always referred to as “Curley’s Wife” or simply “She.” Ever since she is born Curley’s wife is always trying to find a place where she belonged and is happy. Every chance that she gets is taken away from her. An example is the time when her mother purposefully keeps a letter from her that would get her into Hollywood (97). When she finally marries Curley she hits rock bottom with no way to get out even though she sometimes dreams of running away to become an actor. Before she can fulfill her dream, however, the one person on the entire farm who has a real conversation with her, if only for a few minutes, kills her (100).
George, who is a fairly easy guy to get along with, is one of the loneliest characters even though