Of Mice and Men - Loneliness and Isolation

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Of Mice and Men-Loneliness and                           Isolation

Steinbeck uses Loneliness and Isolation as two main themes in ‘Of Mice and Men’ due to the effects of the Great Depression on ordinary people in the agricultural areas of America.

The Great Depression was a time when many workers lost their jobs; people became unemployed and the country was at the point of being bankrupt. These issues caused loneliness and isolation to the people within the agricultural areas of the USA. The Depression was also a time where the rate of unemployment was high and even jobs that were available were of very low pay, this was because of seasonal farming. This affected agricultural areas the most. Many thousands found themselves homeless and very isolated like George and Lennie because of this. Furthermore, food prices and items increased making it more difficult to get hold of a job at the time. In some cases people would not get work at all, which is why most characters in ‘Of Mice and Men’ found themselves in a very lonely and isolated environment.

John Steinbeck was well known in American literature in the 20th Century and still is. Steinbeck had a tough time during his childhood as he witnessed the loneliness and isolation people suffered at the time of the Great Depression. Steinbeck’s father worked on a farm like Lennie and George and so John Steinbeck himself felt the isolation which his father felt. This inspired him to write books showing the loneliness and isolation that people felt at the time. He wrote the novel ‘Of Mice and Men’ because he wanted people to know what it was like at the time and how people suffered and felt at the time.

Loneliness and Isolation were big issues at the time of the Depression. It went on for a vast majority of time, so many thousands suffered. Relationships were affected in most cases because people had to leave their families to find work in other states; they often found themselves separated. This caused Loneliness in their lives.

One character in the novel that expresses loneliness and isolation is ‘Curley’s Wife’. She experiences loneliness and isolation because of her gender, age, power and because she is married to the bosses son (Curley).

One of the main ways in which she expresses her loneliness and isolation is by using her sexuality and age to get some attention from the workers on the ranch. “I’m looking for Curley”, this quote shows us that she is ‘looking for Curley’ but actually it shows that she is desperate to get some sort of attention from the ranch workers. She is always looking for Curley, not anyone else. This is because she wants the men on the ranch to feel sorry for her, but they know that it’s a trap which she wants them to fall in.

Curley’s Wife is the only woman that is in the novel. She sees this as a way to flirt with other men around her.”…she said playfully”. This is another example of her trying to get some attention from the workers, this time she uses her sexuality and good looks to get their attention. Although deep down she knows she is lonely and isolated having no one to talk to. She hides her loneliness by talking to the ranch workers in a ‘playful’ way. She also covers up her loneliness and isolation by putting on make up. The ranch workers stay away from Curley’s wife even more because of this.

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Youth and age is a difference that Curley’s wife has compared to the men on the ranch. She is a lot younger than them, meaning she is more fragile and immature. To conclude, she has different interests like men, wanting company and her wanting to be a ‘movie star’. “Her fingernails were red”. She uses bold coloured make up to symbolise to the men that she is in power, also known as the middle class. She has this power because she is married to Curley and the men know if something happens to her they will be big trouble ...

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