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Consider the theme of loneliness in the novel 'Of Mice and Men'. How does it affect the friendships and relationships in the novel?

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Introduction

Of Mice and Men. Task: Consider the theme of loneliness in the novel 'Of Mice and Men'. How does it affect the friendships and relationships in the novel? For this essay I will be discussing the novel 'Of Mice and Men' and will be considering the theme of loneliness and how it affects the friendship and relationships between the characters throughout the story. The inspiration for the novel, which was set in the 1930's, came from Steinbeck himself. In the years of 1919 to 1926 John Steinbeck undertook a series of manual, unskilled jobs, one of which was a farm labourer on ranches. It was this experience which seems subsequently to have provided the setting for his short novel 'Of Mice and Men'. The book is about what life was like on a ranch and how you were treated. The characters have positions in the hierarchy. The people who are at the bottom are referred to as the 'Social Rejects' though no one has ever called them that before, Steinbeck makes it clearly obvious that they are. Lennie, Candy and Crooks are the 'Social Rejects' in the novel and all of these characters have a disability of some kind in which we will find out later on in the essay. It is these disabilities which make the 'reject's' lonely. They are not much use to anybody, especially Crooks, who is rarely spoken to. At the start of the story, the scene is set in a small town called 'Soledad.' Ironically the word Soledad means loneliness which is one of the main themes in the novel. ...read more.

Middle

His one, true friend would be his dog and it is his dog who resembles Candy. His dog used to be young and healthy and he was once an excellent sheepdog, but he is now old and not much use to anyone. This also applies to Candy who also used to be young and healthy and an excellent ranch worker, but is now old and not much use, partially due to the fact that he has lost one of his hands. Candy does not foresee a pleasant future and in truth one of Candy's main fears is to end up 'on the county'. This is why he wants to append with George and Lennie in their 'dream'. He wants a secure future for himself and most of all he wants company, as by this point he no longer has his dog and he knows that he can be easily replaced when he's older and the ranch doesn't need him anymore. Candy really does show that he is a lonely man in this part of the novel as he is giving his money away to strangers. The killing of Candy's 'ageing, smelly and rheumatic' dog, done by Carlson, is an obvious metaphor and a foreshadowing device for what George must do to Lennie. Candy states to George just after his dog is shot that he never wanted Carlson to shoot his dog: 'I ought to of shot that dog myself, George. I shouldn't ought to of let no stranger shoot my dog.' George takes this in mind and this is why he does the deed and kills Lennie himself. ...read more.

Conclusion

A foreshadowing device in the scene, which is set in the barn, is the dead puppy. Like the puppy, Curley's wife's hair is soft and smooth, which leads to Lennie continuously stroking it: 'Lennie's big fingers fell to stroking her hair.' Lennie does not know when to stop and his addiction of stroking soft and smooth objects results in Curley's Wife's death. She no longer wants him to mess her hair up and fights to pull away from Lennie's strong grip. This of course affects the relationship between George, Lennie and Candy. They can no longer go through with their dream. Their aspirations are shattered into thousands of pieces when Lennie's life comes to an end. After reading this book it has finally come to my mind that loneliness is an important theme in the novel and how many characters are affected with loneliness. There are a variety of reasons why the people are lonely. For Crooks it is because of his race and disability and so no one wants to befriend him. For Lennie and Candy it is also a disability and Lennie can't have a proper conversation with anyone. Curley's Wife is the only female on the ranch and with no other females around she finds herself almost too lonely as she reflects back on her past. Steinbeck has a certain skill in his writing as he makes us empathise and sympathise with the characters. This is what gets us reading the book and how we get so engrossed in it, it's because it feels like we know the characters and how we feel sorry for them when there times are hard. ...read more.

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