World Studies English
October 30, 2013
Theme of Loneliness in Of Mice and Men
“Of Mice and Men” is a powerful and moving novel by John Steinbeck, telling of two men following their dream of independence in the midst of the Depression. The theme of Loneliness is particularly prominent in this novel and is demonstrated clearly by many aspects of writer’s craft. The most noticeable of these are word choice, symbolism and tone.
“‘We travel together,’ said George coldly. ‘Oh, so it’s that way.’ George was tense and motionless. ‘Yeah, it’s that way’ ” This quote shows how George is uncomfortable about confiding in Lennie or being close to him while there are other men nearby. The emphasizes the theme of loneliness by the fact that George and Lennie are so close but are not allowed to show any affection for others as it was not common for two men to travel around together at the time.
Candy is another character who deals with loneliness. He is the oldest man on the ranch and is crippled. The only work he can do is cleaning out the bunkhouse and other odd jobs. His only companion is his old dog who stays by his side. One night however, a fellow ranch hand named Carlson convinces Candy to let himself put the dog out of its misery. “If you want me to, I’ll put the old devil out of his misery right now and get it over with,” said Carlson in persuasion to Candy. Candy agreed and so his only companion was shot, leaving him sad and lonely. A few minutes later, Candy hears Lennie and George talking about the land which they wish to purchase, and wishes to be a part of that dream. Candy, overcome with loneliness and seeing no hope for the future, buys himself into a friendship by offering George money to pay for the land. “S’ pose I went in with you guys,” Candy stated, “Tha’s three hundred an’ fifty bucks I’d put in”. Steinbeck seems to be implying that Candy attempted to avoid his inevitable loneliness with the death of his dog, by buying in on a farm with his new found friends. This demonstrates how Candy is so desperately lonely after the death of his dog that he offers his entire life saving to two men he has only known a few weeks, and all this to go and live on their own ranch and have someone to talk always, with no danger of being “canned”.
Crooks, a Negro stable buck, also had to handle loneliness. Being black, he was forbidden to stay with the other guys in the bunk house, and was instead forced to live all alone in the barn, with only books for company. When Lennie wandered into his room, Crooks talked to Lennie about his loneliness. He described how upsetting it was to not be able to share your thoughts with another person. “A guy sets alone out here at night, maybe readin’ books or thinkin’ or stuff like that.” Crooks explained, “Sometimes he gets thinkin’, an’ he got nothin to tell him what’s so an’ what ain’t so. Maybe he sees somethin’, he don’t know whether it’s right or not. He can’t turn to some other guy an’ ask him if he sees it too. He can’t tell”. Crooks also tried to get Lennie to sympathize with his loneliness. “S’pose you didn’t have nobody. S’pose you couldn’t go into the bunk house and play rummy ‘cause you was black. How’d you like that? Sure you could play horseshoes till it got dark, but then you got to read books. Books ain’t no good. A guy needs somebody to be near him. A guy goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody. Don’t make no…