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‘Of Mice and Men’ – Are all the characters in this novel lonely?

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'Of Mice and Men' - Are all the characters in this novel lonely? 'Of Mice and Men' is set in California during the mid 1930s. Before 1930 people in California used to live together happily as families and used to lead a relatively normal life, however in 1929 the collapse of the New York stock market meant that one and a half million people became unemployed rising to three million by 1930 - this was called the 'Wall Street Crash'. This depression made caused families to break up as many people (mainly men) to go elsewhere to find work and earn a living. Consequently there was a breakdown in American society. Steinbeck worked briefly as a ranch worker himself and most of his early books, including 'Of Mice and Men', were concerned with social issues of the day. Steinbeck was a realist and in his novels he presents the poor and disadvantaged sympathetically. His work made him unpopular with exploitative employers and landowners whom he held responsible for perpetuating the cycle of poverty and deprivation created by the 'Depression'. The novel was very successful in explaining the needs of people who are lonely and maybe have no friends or family. It also looks at the need to have a friend or dream to support you through life. The different relationships and characters in the novel represent loneliness and realism with nearly every person holding a dream. The first couple we come across in this novel is George and Lennie; these two friends travel together and are very close, they have each other. ...read more.


As soon as the reader meets Curley's wife they get a very bad impression of her, "...the rectangle of sunshine in the doorway was cut off", this is both literal and metaphorical foreshadowing; she is cutting off the light in the door so all of the men look up to her, it is metaphorical foreshadowing giving the impression that she is trouble. This means that throughout the novel she is disliked by the reader causing her to be even lonelier. By marrying Curley she has become very isolated becoming the only woman on the ranch; she turns to outsiders for attention and tries to befriend the men by hanging round the bunkhouse. Curley's wife is just like Lennie, Crooks and Candy as they have been left behind on a Saturday night- the rejects on the ranch. Curley's wife has no friends and even admits to being lonely seeing that she is not really looking for Curley; she just wants to talk with someone "Think I don't know where they all went? Even Curley. I know where they all went." But although being forlorn she still has a lot of power over the other ranch workers being the boss' son's wife, we see this power when she reminds Crooks of how much authority she has over him "I could get you strung up on a tree so easy it ain't even funny"; she exercises her power threatening Crooks with death. Like Candy, being a social outcast, Crooks is the loneliest person on the ranch. ...read more.


Not all the characters are throughout this novel but all of them come about to be lonely at the end; George and Lennie have each other with the dream of starting a new life in a little cottage of their own, we only know till the very end that this dream can no longer take place with the loss of Lennie and therefore causing George to be lonely. Curley and his wife have each other even though not really speaking to each other much, Curely's wife could be considered lonely as the reader never sees her with Curley but always hanging around looking to talk to someone. Candy did have his dog to rely on and to trust but when he died then he soon found himself becoming lonely and looking to others for attention and Crooks was also lonely throughout the novel being racially discriminated against by all other ranch workers; he was an outsider. Characters on the ranch in this novel are lonely and hold a dream to keep themselves calm and for something to hold onto, seeing that they have no friends they need to look to something to keep them happy and sane. Steinbeck worked on a ranch within the 1930s and must have seen how ranch workers behaved and how lonely they can feel. He has been in a position of a ranch worker and has expressed his feeling of loneliness and dream worthy within this novel, his realism has caused nearly all characters to be lonely at the end of the novel. Ben Waters 11E - 1 - ...read more.

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