The implementation of isolation within the lives of John Steinbeck's characters in his novel Of Mice and Men allows him to discuss the effect isolation has on an individual's life. Through the characters of Lennie, Crooks, Candy, and Curley's wife, Steinbeck is able to fully illustrate how isolation influences one's attitude towards life. Lennie, Crooks, Candy and Curley's wife all live a life led by isolation. Isolation interacts differently with each character, but ultimately negatively influences each of them. Although each of the characters in Of Mice and Men experience solitude, neither of them do so by choice. Steinbeck is able to demonstrate how the concept of loneliness is essential to the unfortunate but inevitable conclusion of the novel.
The novel is set during the Great Depression, which was “a time of great economic turmoil and disaster” (American History), in Soledad, California. Before the characters are fully introduced, there is a sense of isolation already because the name of the town literally translates to loneliness in Spanish (Study Spanish). Most of the characters experience loneliness. The reader quickly learns that Lennie is a lonely character when George reminds Lennie: "guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world. They got no family. They don't belong no place" (Steinbeck 15). As the novel continues, the reader quickly learns that the workers are not the only ones who are lonely; Crooks, Candy and Curley's wife also confess their loneliness. Candy experiences loneliness due to his disability and his age. Candy lost his hand after an accident involving machinery, which ultimately forces him to stay behind. His age also causes Candy to feel a sense of loneliness because he is unable to keep up with the younger farm hands. Crooks and Curley's wife, despite the fact that they are both lonely, respond differently to their loneliness. They are both isolated due to the way others mistreat them. Crooks is isolated from others because he is a black man. As seen in chapter four, Crooks spends most of his time alone in his room; the time spent alone causes him to be a bitter, untrusting man. Curley's wife is also another bitter character. Regardless of how hard she tries, she is unable to fit in with others. For example, whenever she tries to talk to Lennie, she is not acknowledged or is simply told to go away. Many workers avoid Curley's wife because of their fear of causing trouble with Curley. Because both the farm hands and her husband ignore her, she is yet another character who is forced by society to feel lonely.
The characters’ loneliness is evident by the sole fact that the characters have confessed their feelings to complete strangers. They do not have friends that they can share their secrets with; therefore, they must share secrets with complete strangers. Each character is desperate for a friend, someone that will help them along the way.
When all the other ranch hands go to town,...