Of Mice And Men
In the masterful story Of Mice And Men by John Steinbeck there is a looming theme of loneliness. This theme is told to you through the words and actions of the characters in the story . This story is told through two characters Lennie and George. The setting is 1930’s America. The story involves traveling ranch workers that live only for the one purpose to get paid and waste their money on a few drinks and some pleasure. These men are consumed with loneliness. The care for nothing but themselves. They are very unlike George and Lennie who have each other and a dream. Lennie is a big man with the brain of a child. Lennie never meant to hurt anybody but managed to get himself and his only true friend George into trouble. George is a small smart man who has known Lennie all his life and knows to well that Lennie could not survive on his own lets him travel with him as a favor too Lennie’s aunt
Loneliness is defined as Without companions; lone. I will use this definition to describe different aspects of Steinbeck’s treatment of loneliness in this novel. Steinbeck’s use of loneliness is in this novel is very noticeable in some of the dialogue like when Lennie accidentally stumbles into Crook’s home in the stable and they talk. “You got George. You know he’s goin’ to come back. S’pose you didn’t have nobody. S’pose you couldn’t go to the bunk-house and play rummy ‘cause you was black. How’d you like that? S’pose you had to sit out here an’ read books. Sure you could play horse shoes til it got dark, but then you got to read books. Books ain’t no good. A guy needs somebody-to be near him. ‘He whined : ‘A guy goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody. Don’t make no difference who the guy is, long he’s with you. I tell ya,’ he cried , I tell you a guy gets lonely an’ he gets sick.” This shows Crook’s view of the world and how he feels about what his life is about. He feels as though nobody cares for him which is probably true from the quote above.
George and Lennie feel they are not alone they have a dream. This dream is what pushes them on. They are often talking of the land they dream of. “Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world. They got no Family. The don’t belong no place. They come to a ranch an’ work up a stake and then they go inta town and blow there stake, and the first thing you know they’re poundin’ their tail on some other ranch. The ain’t got nothing to look ahead to.’ Lennie was delighted now tell how it is with us.’ George went on. ‘With us it aint like that. We got a future. We got someone to talk about that gives a damn about us.”
” Some day were we’re gona get the jack together and were gonna have a little house and a couple of acres an’a cow and some pigs and …’ ‘an’ live off the fatta the lan’,’ Lennie shouted.”
Curley’s wife is probably one of the loneliest characters in the whole story she is the only woman on a ranch full of men. The men are so lonely the have sheltered themselves from women and refuse to talk to Curley’s wife. She also loves to hang around the bunk-house asking for Curley even when she knows he is not there. She tries to talk to Lennie but he says “If George sees me talkin’ to you he’ll give me hell. Lennie said cautiously. He tol’ me so. Her face grew angry. ‘ What’s the matter with me? She cried. Ain’t I got a right to talk to nobody. Whatta they think I am any ways? you’re a nice guy. I don’t know why I can’t talk to you. I ain’t doin’ no harm to you.”
Candy is one of the loneliest characters in the story. He is so lonely he reluctantly agrees to put down his dog which he raised from a pup and now is old toothless, and doing no good to himself or anybody. Candy keeps the dog because the are close and Candy does not want to be lonely. Candy talks of being canned because he is to old to swamp the bunk-house. “They’ll can me purty soon. Jus’ as soon as I can’t swamp out the bunk-house they’ll put me on the country…… when they can me here I wisht somebody’d shoot me. But they won’t do nothing like that. I won’t have no place to go, I cant get no more jobs.”
Slim is one of the only characters in the book that may not be lonely. He is seen as almost god like in the eyes of the men who work for him. When George talks to Slim he can’t stop himself from telling him the troubles that he and Lennie have been in during there travels. ” he was a jerkline skinner, the prince of the ranch, capable of driving ten, sixteen, even twenty mules with a single line to the leaders.”
” His authority was so great that his word was taken on any subject, be politics or love. This was Slim, The jerkline skinner.”
At the end of the story when George shot Lennie he realized that he killed all of his hopes an dreams in the process. This suggest, somehow that everybody in this world is truly alone. Steinbeck presents us with a bleak picture of human loneliness. It is not entirely clear, at the end of the novel whether he is presenting us with loneliness or negative images. On the surface his vision seems to be negative but he does seem to suggest that it is our struggle to come to terms with the reality of loneliness that leaves a sense of dignity in our lives.