The most prominent emotion that features in the book is loneliness, this is illustrated best by the characters, Candy, Crooks and Curley’s wife. Crook’s is the black stable hand and due to the prejudice against black people at that time in America, Crook’s is discriminated against and is very isolated on the farm. He explains to Lenny ‘ There’s just one coloured family in Soledad, If I say something, why it’s just a nigger saying it’. This shows that anything he has to say is not really heard or given any worth unless he was talking to another black person. Crooks isolation is made worse by the fact that he also has a deformity of the spine and so he is further outcast because he is not as able bodied as the rest of the ranch workers. Crook’s has suffered from the loneliness he feels for so long that it is taking him to the brink of madness. This is illustrated when he says that ‘a guy goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody’ and when he says ‘Maybe if he sees something, he don’t know whether it’s right or not. I seen things out here. I wasn’t drunk. I don’t know if I was asleep.’ He has got to the point where he is unable to trust is own judgement and instincts.
Candy is also a lonely character on the ranch. He like Crooks is not as able bodied as the rest of the team because he is old and only has one hand, which isolates him from them as he is only able to clean the bunk houses. Candy’s one and only companion in life is his dog who is also very old and Candy is pressured into killing the dog by Carlson who states ‘I’ll put the old devil out of his misery right now and get it over with. Ain’t nothing left for him. Can’t eat, can’t see, can’t even walk without hurting’. Even though this is true, Candy feels that he will also end up like his dog, of no use to anyone and will be sent away, unable to get another job and without anybody to care what happens to him.
Curley’s wife is the only female in the story, Steinbeck doesn’t even name her which indicates the prejudice against women at that time. She is discriminated against in the same way Crooks is. Curley’s wife made a big mistake by marrying a man that she doesn’t really like she confides this to Lennie by saying ‘I don’t like Curly, he ain’t a nice fella’. Curley’s wife tries to find friendship with the other men on the ranch, by the only way she knows how which is to be flirtatious. But this only alienates her even more as the men see her as trying to cause trouble for them.
Hope is also a strong emotion that travels through the book and Lennie’s and George’s hope of owning their own farm is a constant through most of the book. They are the central characters in the story and are unique because they travel around together. Their hopes for the future bond their friendship together. ‘Guys like us got nothing, they work up a stack and blow it in the town. But we’re different we got a future’. This hope for the future is revealed to Candy just as he has lost the only companion he ever had his dog. Candy dares to hope that he could be part of…