Of Mice & Men - Discuss the theme's in the play.

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Adnan Ali

By themes, I mean the ideas, which the author is trying to give us. Most authors do not write just for fun, but to show us that there is a message that they would like us to learn behind the plot. Usually the ideas are ones that the author believes in deeply. The themes are under the following headings:

  • Loneliness

Loneliness affects many of the characters, and Steinbeck seems to show that it is a natural result of the kind of life they are forced to lead. The workers are caught in a trap of loneliness - they never stay in one place long enough to form long lasting relationships. Even if the relationships existed, they would probably be destroyed by the demands of their life.

Candy is lonely because he is old, and is different from the other hands. His only comfort is his old dog, which keeps him company and reminds him of days when he was young and whole. He has no relatives, and once his dog is killed he is totally alone. He eagerly grasps at the idea of buying a farm with George and Lennie, but of course this all comes to nothing. Candy's disappointment is shown in the bitter words he utters to the body of Curley's wife, who he blames for spoiling his dream.

George is also caught in the trap of loneliness. Just as Candy has his dog for company, George has Lennie (who is often described in animal-like terms). George too is left completely alone when Lennie is killed. The dream farm is his idea, and he says 'We'd belong there ... no more runnin' around the country...’

Another lonely character is Curley's wife. Newly married and in a strange place, she is forbidden by Curley to talk to anyone but him.  She constantly approaches the ranch hands on the excuse of looking for Curley. The only result is that the men regard her as a slut, and Curley becomes even more intensely jealous. Finally, her loneliness leads to her death as she makes the mistake of trying to defeat it by playing with Lennie.

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Curley himself is lonely. His new wife hates him, as do all the ranch hands who dislike him for his cowardice. He has married, to try and escape his loneliness, but has chosen a wife totally inappropriate for the kind of life he desires. His feelings are all of aggressive behaviour, which places his wife further away from him and leads to the incident with Lennie where his hand is crushed.

Crooks is another who is isolated because he is different. He copes with it by keeping a distance between himself and the other hands. When he does allow himself ...

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