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loneliness in of mice and men

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Loneliness in Of Mice and Men Explore the issues connected with loneliness in John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. The reduction of human beings into mere 'tools' like this extends to Curley's wife as well, who is known and treated only as an object, even by her husband. Life in a male-dominated world has left Curley's wife alone and desperate for recognition and appreciation, which she would otherwise get from a companion like a friend or her husband: "I never get to talk to nobody. I get awful lonely." Unlike George, Lennie and Candy, Curley's wife has therefore not had experience of being responsible for someone and making sacrifices for them-whether it is giving up petting a dead mouse or giving up the chance to drink and gamble. Through her character, Steinbeck shows that loneliness breeds nastiness and selfishness, as indicated by Slim, the figure of authority and empathy in the novel: "I seen the guys that go around on the ranches alone ... After a long time they get mean." Conforming to this observation, Curley's wife has also become cold and the only way she can feel a sense of self-worth is by flaunting ...read more.


Crooks is excluded by everyone at the ranch because of his race, a common form of discrimination in the 1930s in America. Steinbeck uses the extreme segregation faced by Crooks as an opportunity to express a combination of thoughts on the theme of loneliness. Crooks, too, has become cruel and predatory due to the discrimination he has faced. When Lennie tries to "make friends" with him, Crooks' initial apprehension is "defeated" by Lennie's "disarming smile"-a sign that a small act of friendship from someone as simple, unselfish like Lennie is a great relief after years of isolation. But Crooks' response to this act remains very cruel; he frightens Lennie with suggestions that George may never return from his trip to the town and takes "pleasure in his torture"-he certainly has become nasty because of prolonged alienation. Nevertheless, Crooks warms to his companion and starts to express his long-suppressed feelings: "I tell ya a guy gets too lonely an' he gets sick." He also describes how he is from a landowners' family and lived and played with white children when he was a child-these times of companionship seem to have sustained him his whole life and have allowed him to live with relative dignity. ...read more.


Steinbeck shows how such bonds are impossible to make in the dog-eat-dog world of the Great Depression, because trust and loyalty are not easily earned from wandering men. On the other hand, animals like rabbits, dogs and even Lennie, are possible companions, since their vulnerability and dependence allows people like George and Candy to make them 'their own'. But again, this companionship is doomed because of one of the partners' vulnerability. Steinbeck also shows how prolonged loneliness makes people cruel and how a temporary, friendly reception can make people expressive and hopeful. Loneliness makes life a futile circuit of cheap, carnal attempts at human contact, which can constitute the petting of creatures, going to brothels or flirting with men. In the cyclical fashion of the novel, the result of these attempts is just more loneliness and the resulting indifference. The novel concludes with Carlson remarking on Slim and George's grief by saying, "Now what the hell ya suppose is eatin' them two guys?"-Steinbeck's final comment on how a life without any emotional link to anyone has completely destroyed a man's ability to empathise and value another's life. ...read more.

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