Essay, Research Paper: Of Mice And Men Theme

Literature: Steinbeck

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“A guy goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody. Don’t matter no difference who
the guy is long as he’s with you. I tell ya a guy gets too lonely an’ he
gets sick.” A major theme in Steinbeck’s novel, Of Mice and Men is how
people suffer from loneliness. The characters, Crooks, Candy, and Curley’s
wife each suffers the severity of their own seclusion. Crooks, the stable buck,
is a black man that experiences isolation in terms of racism. For example, he is
forced to live alone in a separated room, in the barn. “[Crooks] had his bunk
in the harness room; a little shed that leaned off the wall of the barn”.
Because the setting of this book takes place during the 1930's discrimination
unfortunately still existed. The farmhands feel that, since he is black he is
not worthy of living with the rest of them and as a result, they would - if ever
- come into his room and talk to him. “He [Crooks] kept this distance and
demanded that other people keep theirs”. Furthermore, his separation from
others causes his severe loneliness. He spends his nights reading and his days
alone in the barn looking after the horses. Crooks’ distance from others
eventually causes his downfall. We find discrimination being the major cause of
this character’s loneliness. Crook is treated as an outcast and an underling
and is forced to find friendship in the only thing he can, the books he reads.
Therefore, the emotional pain of Crooks is evident of him suffering from his
loneliness. Candy, the old swapper, was also victimized by isolation as a result
of two main factors: his disability and his old age. Throughout the book he was
secluded from the rest of the people on the ranch. For instance, when the
farmhands are out bucking the barley, Candy is left behind to sweep and clean
the ranch. He lost his hand after getting it caught in a piece of machinery and
as a result, he is forced to stay behind. This is one of the major factors that
leads to his loneliness. Furthermore, Candy's age adds to his feeling of
uselessness. He looks down on himself as an old worthless man that is wasting
away his last few years. Not only is it the way that others think of him, but
also the way Candy thinks of himself that forces him to find solitude. The most
evident case of loneliness in this novel is Curley’s wife. No matter how hard
she tries she can not fit in. For example, when she tries numerous times to talk
to George and Lennie, she either was ignored or told to leave because she was
going to cause trouble. “I ain’t gonna cause you no trouble. Think I don’t
like to talk to someone ever’ once in a while, think I like to stick in that
house alla time?” Because of her reputation for being a flirt, none of the
farmhands wanted to talk to her. It was the threat of getting in trouble with
Curley that caused many workers to avoid her. In addition, because of Curley's
insecure feelings, he neglected her and forced her to seek attention anyway she
could, even it meant flirting. She was ignored by both the farmhands and her own
husband and because of her incapability of supporting herself, she was being
forced into loneliness. The pain of loneliness is so disabling that not even the
strongest can avoid it. Throughout the story, Of Mice and Men, alienation from
discrimination and prejudice leads to the emptiness of the soul. Crooks, Candy,
and Curley's wife all suffer from this pain which leads them to their
loneliness. The severity of consequences for each character’s loneliness are a
result of the intensity of their desolation.
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