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How does Steinbeck present the theme of loneliness in ‘Of Mice and Men’

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Introduction

How does Steinbeck present the theme of loneliness in 'Of Mice and Men'? 'Of Mice and Men' by John Steinbeck, is set in mid-1930s America during the depression. This depression came as a shock to America after the 1920s 'boom-time'. The inspiration that Steinbeck drew upon is the troublesome times people were living through at that time. However, the characters in the novel are lucky in that they are working on a prosperous farm, despite millions actually being out of work at the time. In this essay, I will attempt to bring out key points referring to loneliness and how it affects the characters in the story. The novel is set in a place called Soledad, which incidentally means loneliness. The two central characters in the novel are George Milton and Lennie Small. The first chapter helps us get to know the characters well. George and Lennie are two workers who move from ranch to ranch in search of work and good pay. We know early on that they are currently between jobs, and are hitching lifts to their next job. They had to move on from the last ranch because of Lennie having touched a girl's dress, so they are on the run. George is quick-witted and intelligent. ...read more.

Middle

Whereas the ranch hands generally read magazines, he has the time - and the intelligence - to read proper books. Literature, after all, educates us, allows us to enter into other worlds, and fills our time profitably. He says, "A guy sets alone out here at night, maybe readin' books or thinkin'" The books actually show that Crooks is not inferior. If anything, they show that he has a superior intelligence. However, Crooks indicates the books also reflect his loneliness - he would like someone to talk to. So they also show how he is different and apart from the other workers on the ranch. He has long been the victim of oppressive violence and prejudice, this in itself leaves him separate from the rest of the group. Despite the persecutions, the other characters seem to secretly admire him "Jesus, how that nigger can pitch shoes." Then Slim replies "He's plently good," although they never complement him when he is around. Crooks does have rights, but many of them are abused and no-one does anything to enforce them. Crooks has trouble fitting in and making friends because of restrictions imposed on him by the boss - he is only allowed in the bunkhouse at Christmas. Crooks' character is bored with life and only wishes to be equal with white people, like he seemed to be as a child, and he only now realises why his father despised his white friends as a child. ...read more.

Conclusion

She does. Eventually killed by her own loneliness, she dies violently at the same strong hands as the mice, the dog and Curley's hand. Candy then stumbles upon the body, he knows it was Lennie and realises the trio's dream is finished. He gets George who knows he must reach Lennie before Curley and the other ranch-hands, so he can help Lennie escape the violence that would ensue if he didn't catch him in time. An alternate way of life is sought by the characters, motivated by their loneliness, this is one of the reasons they drift from ranch-to-ranch, they are continually searching. They do this, often without knowing what they are really looking for. Characters are also lonely because of something within themselves, something that almost seems to make their loneliness inevitable. Different characters seek comfort in different things - for Candy it is his dog; for George and Lennie it is each other; for Crooks it is his pride and skill at things like pitching horseshoes. For them, it is an unending journey moving from place to place, the same jobs, the same routines, different people. Sadly, they never stay in one place long enough to make friends or settle down. Many dream of getting a ranch of their own, but it will never happen as long as they take their pay every month and go into town and waste all they have earned on one night of recreation. ...read more.

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