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Loneliness and Isolation in Of Mice and Men

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Introduction

Discuss Steinbeck's Presentation of the Theme Loneliness or Isolation in Of Mice and Men John Steinbeck's novella Of Mice and Men follows two men, George and Lennie, through their somewhat lonely and isolated lives on the ranch. The story is set in America, in around the 1920's, just post the Wall Street Crash. They are bottom of the social ladder, being ranch workers, and travel from location to location in search for employment. They, like many other characters in the novella, had an American Dream. This is the idea of independence, owning your own plot of land and not having to work again. However, in reality, this dream was rarely achieved by such men. Steinbeck opens the book with a vivid description of the surrounding area. There is a lot of colour imagery "sycamores with mottled, white, recumbent limbs." The detailed opening emphasises the point that it is a lonely area. Furthermore, the area in which they are in is "a few miles south of Soledad"; Soledad can be translated into English to mean loneliness or isolation. ...read more.

Middle

Travelling together means that Lennie and George are very close but they have more of a parent and child relationship. George has to help Lennie in every situation and, sometimes, loses his control. "I gotta tell you again, do I? Jesus Christ, you're a crazy bastard!" George loses his temper in the same way that a parent would with a child. George can be seen to be more isolated than Lennie as George always has to clean up the mess that Lennie causes and due to Lennie's mental disability he does not really understand/care as long as he has George. The reader learns about the George and Lennie's dream. "O.K. Some day we're gonna get the jack together and we're gonna have a little house and a couple of acres and some pigs... an' live off the fatta the lan' an' have rabbits" Lennie is fixated on tending the rabbits and will do anything to attend this dream. George subconsciously knows that it is highly unlikely that they will ever achieve this dream. ...read more.

Conclusion

She talks of how a man once told her she could make it in the acting business. This is most definitely a lie but she believes her mum prevented her from having this dream by stealing her letter. Another example of dreams is that of Crooks. He is isolated from the rest of the workers in that he is a Negro, and he is referred to as nigger. Also, Crooks is crippled and cannot work properly. He lives in his own, separate bunkhouse, which shows how much further isolated he is from the rest of the workers. Crooks dreams of impartiality and equality. He wants to be treated fairly by the fellow ranch workers. The dreams that the different characters of the ranch have indicate the loneliness they are subject to in society, and how they dream of a different reality. To conclude, isolation and loneliness plays a key role in the novella. It is one of the main themes of the book. Set during a depression many of the readers would be able to empathise with George and Lennie's situation. There is a cyclical structure to the book and this is important as it shows how they have ended and started in the same place but so much has changed. ...read more.

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