Of Mice and Men

10 October 2016

It deals with people who don’t fit into society, who are not accepted by other people and who are discriminated against. The novel takes place near a town called Soledad, which means “solitude” in Spanish. Steinbeck uses concepts such as ageism, racism and sexism to portray loneliness. Loneliness is an integral theme in the novel, and is expertly portrayed and developed by Steinbeck throughout the novel.

Candy and his dog are great examples of Steinbeck’s portrayal of loneliness and discrimination caused by handicaps and ageism. Candy has had his dog since it was a pup and he loves it even though it has outlived its usefulness. Loneliness hits Candy hard when his dog is shot. He is haunted by the thought that he will also be cast out when he becomes utterly useless. In an attempt to escape that fate, Candy tries convincing George and Lennie to take him with them when they buy their own ranch. Candy offers to pay his entire life’s savings of $350 to contribute to their cause. I’d make a will an’ leave my share to you guys in case I kick off, ‘cause I ain’t got no relatives nor nothing” (65). The fact that Candy was willing to write them a will in case he died shows the true extent of his loneliness. It shows how desperate he was to acquire companionship, and how much he feared being lonely. Crooks represents someone who is lonely due to racism. He spends most of his time in his room, bitter and alone as he is ostracized by the white men because he is the only black man on the ranch. Crooks isn’t allowed into the bunkhouse with all the white men, despite Crooks being a descendant of free landowners.

Of Mice and Men Essay Example

This discrimination leads to severe loneliness for Crooks, which is depicted when he asks to be involved in George and Lennie’s dream. However, he quickly withdraws his request when he realizes the futility of a dream for untarnished happiness. He explains to Lennie how lonely he is when he says, “A guy goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody. Don’t make no difference who the guy is, long’s he’s with you. I tell ya a guy gets too lonely an’ he gets sick” (80). Crooks tells Lennie that living in complete solitude begins to drive a man insane.

He tells Lennie how extreme loneliness starts affecting his health and wellbeing. He explains that although he craves companionship and somebody to talk to, he will be alone for the rest of his life. It shows that companionship is imperative to live in harmony. Finally, Steinbeck displays and develops loneliness through sexism in the character of Curley’s wife. She is lonely because she is the only woman on the ranch. Additionally, none of the men ever talk to her because they are afraid of her husband, Curley, who is overprotective and possessive.

Curley’s wife has developed a reputation for being flirtatious and is seen by all the males as someone who threatens to destroy their longevity and happiness because her husband, Curley, is the boss’s son. Hence, even though she tries to escape from her isolation, she is treated with contempt by all the people on the ranch. She says to Lennie, “I don’t know why I can’t talk to you. I ain’t doin’ no harm” (96). She says this because he tries to avoid her and ignores her. All the other men on the farm including George have strongly advised Lennie to refrain from having anything to do with Curley’s wife because of her flirtatious nature.

Throughout the novel many characters either admit experiencing profound loneliness, or their desolation is obvious through their actions. In the beginning of the novel, George describes the solitude of their job to Lennie, “Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world. They got no family. They don’t belong no place” (15). He explains that most of the ranch-hands spend their lives without having a real sense of direction because of their constant travel and lack of stability. But George and Lennie stand out because they share a unique camaraderie.

George is compelled to look after Lennie, and Lennie trusts George unconditionally. Even though they are still lonely, their rare companionship shields them from the solitary life of a ranch-hand. Other ranch-hands envy their companionship as seen when Slim tells George, “I hardly never seen two guys travel together. You know how the hands are, they just come in and get their bunk and work a month, and then they quit and go out alone” (43). The quote shows that many of the other ranch-hands envy George and Lennie’s unique friendship. However by the end of the novel, George is compelled to kill his friend Lennie in an act of euthanasia.

This event devastated George, taking away his only sense of companionship and the sole respite he had from utter loneliness. Steinbeck describes the loneliness of characters caused by various factors. He develops how loneliness affects each character throughout the novel using concepts such as ageism, racism and sexism. He shows how George loses his respite from pervasive loneliness when he loses his companion, Lennie. In conclusion, it is evident that Steinbeck expertly portrays and develops the theme of loneliness throughout the novel.

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Of Mice and Men. (2016, Oct 16). Retrieved January 14, 2022, from https://newyorkessays.com/essay-of-mice-and-men-9/
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