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How does Steinbeck explore the theme of loneliness in 'Of Mice and Men' and why is this theme so important?

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Introduction

How does Steinbeck explore the theme of loneliness in 'Of Mice and Men' and why is this theme so important? Loneliness plays a key role in this moving story of the lonely and dispossessed. Each character has a different element of loneliness, yet they all join together and portray the main image of the book: the hardship faced by ranch workers in the 1930's. The ranch itself is in Soledad, in California's Salinas Valley. Steinbeck purposely used this location as the name Soledad in Spanish translates as 'loneliness'. This is showing the beginning of the lonely journey that George and Lennie were headed towards. Each man on the ranch keeps himself to himself and 'Hardly none of the guys ever travel together' because of the lack of trust work men had towards each other. So when George and Lennie arrive, the Boss suspects George to be 'sellin' him out' and stealing Lennies' wages. This proves that men on the ranch didn't have friends, they are 'the loneliest guys in the world', they just find work and move on 'poundin' their tail on some other ranch'. George tells Lennie of the kind of people on the ranch on their journey. They are the 'loneliest people in the world'. Lennie understands this and tells George that this doesn't apply to them because they 'got each other'. Steinbeck has used George and Lennie in this novel to show the rarity of a pair of workers. ...read more.

Middle

This is because he is one of the typical workers that lack in trust. Candy seems stumped and looks to for 'help' from the others. He tries to put off the idea by suggesting they do it 'tomorrow', he is desperate not to loose his only companionship. When Carlson leaves Candy lies on his bed and stares 'at the ceiling', showing his depression and helplessness and new found loneliness. Candy tries to close this gap which had come from the departure of his dog by latching onto George and Lennie's dream. He asks to 'hoe the garden' and maybe 'cook'. Another expression of loneliness in the novel is the 'negro', 'stable buck' Crooks. He hasa 'lean face' and a 'crooked spine'. He is not introduced till late in the novel which maybe shows his lack of importance on the ranch. Crooks has 'nobody', Steinbeck puts only one 'nigger' in the book to show the relationship and hard racism between white people and black people. The fact that the others know him as 'the nigger' showed how common racism was then. Crooks is by far the loneliest worker on the ranch. He has a 'bunk', a 'little shed that leaned of the wall of the barn'. Crooks 'kept his distance' from the others, and 'demanded that [they] kept theirs'. The others new him as the 'nigger' that reads 'books'. ...read more.

Conclusion

This represents her desperate loneliness. This lack of friendship led to her sudden death, she 'can move quiet' and no one really knows or cares were she is. So when she went to visit Lennie while the 'guys' had a 'horseshoe tenement goin' on' no one noticed. Lennie warned Curley's wife that he was not 'to have nothing to do' with her', she 'laughed' it off. She told Lennie that she gets 'awful lonely' and that she 'can't talk to nobody but Curley'. she trusted in Lennie and she told him of her past and how she could have 'made somethin' of [her] self'. She 'moved closer to Lennie' and let him stroke her 'soft and fine' hair. This shows how little she knew about Lennie before she let him touch her, and how badly she wanted a companion. All this desperation for friendship led to her death. Steinbeck has configured these characters out of loneliness, and I think this portrays the main theme. Steinbeck uses these characters to show the reader that lonleliness was all that the ranch wokers had in life and this is why the theme of the novel is so important. Steinbeck also uses happiness like 'husband' and 'each other' but he doesn't stray far from the theme. Steinbeck has captured life in this novel, and told us of the many hardships men and women faced during life in the 1930's. ...read more.

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