Loneliness in John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men
Mother Theresa once said, "Loneliness is a man's worst poverty." Without friends and companions, people begin to suffer from loneliness and solitude (Dusenbury 38). Loneliness is an inevitable fact of life and cannot be avoided, as shown prevalent through each of the characters in John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. Each and every character in this novel exhibits loneliness. Lennie was isolated for being mentally handicapped, Candy was isolated for being old and disabled, Crooks was for being black, Curley's wife for being a woman, and George for having to care for Lennie and being unable to socialize with others because of Lennie's consistency of getting into trouble from town to town.
The setting of the novel was along the Salinas River, "a few miles south of Soledad." This literally translates from Spanish into English meaning solitude of loneliness. This helps to support the theme of man's isolation and need for companionship. John Steinbeck was undoubtedly aware of this translation; therefore, he chose to use it as the setting of the novel (Moore 48).
Lennie's loneliness stems from his constancy of being yelled at by George. Lennie didn't like to be around George when he was yelling at him. Lennie and George were friends, but George yelled at him just to try to keep him out of trouble. Lennie tried to make friends other than George, but it never seemed to work out. He even tried to make friends with Crooks, when no one else would ever talk to him. This shows that Lennie really needs a friend that can understand him (Moore 603).
Since Lennie's mind works like a child's, due to his handicap, the other men did not treat him as an equal. Therefore, Lennie did not partake in the activities the other workers did in their spare time. Most of the men went into town during their free time,but Lennie was forbidden to do so. In the past, when George and Lennie went into the local town where they were working, Lennie always found a way to get into trouble. This was because the other people in the town do not understand his problem, and react with anger instead of sympathy (Rascoe 57).
George is also just as lonely as the other characters in Of Mice and Men but he is also the character that least exhibits it. He was lonely because Lennie is his only friend and he got very frustrated with him (Dusenbury 41). George could not talk to Lennie in an adult manner. When talking to Lennie, George must say things two or three times just so that Lennie would understand what he was trying to say, or so that he doesn't forget. George made friends with Candy, Slim and Whit to hopefully be able to have an intellectual conversation. He only put up with Lennie because he knew that if he didn't, Lennie would probably die because he wouldn't be able to fend for himself due to his handicap (Rascoe 58).
George gives us a glimpse of his loneliness in his quote...