Explore the implication of loneliness in John Steinbeck’s novel Of
Mice and Men.
In the light of the American economical collapse, there were a
significant number of itinerant workers, who lived in a nomadic
lifestyle, migrating in search of jobs. This continuous migration
deterred them from building substantial relationships. Due to the lack
of companionship and depression of the era, it appears that the
characters are bound to loneliness. Most of the characters in John
Steinbeck’s novel ‘Of Mice and Men’ are caught in the trap of
loneliness. To escape from the terrible fate in reality, all the
characters that are lonely have a dream. George and Lennie, for
example, dream the American Dream of Going to the West and owning some
Although he has Lennie to look after and care for, George is one of
the loneliest characters in the book. However even if Lennie cures
some of George’s loneliness, he is a constant trouble to him, which
makes George constantly on a move, without a fixed job. This does make
George lonelier-, as he has no fixed relations. We know this from the
fact that he plays solitaire. Solitaire symbolises solitude. George
very often quotes, “We ranch workers are the loneliest in the world.”
However being with Lennie helps him to get rid of some of his
loneliness. When Lennie says that he “would go and live in a cave”,
George stops him, as he knows that without Lennie he would be even
Candy also dwells in the depths of dreariness. Being old, he is
excluded and is thus a sufferer of ageism. He is also a cripple, due
to which he is isolated from others. He says, ”They’ll can me purty
soon”- as soon as he is no longer able to work. His loneliness is
escalated after Carlson kills his dog, which had been his lifelong
companion, and the only source of hope in his battle with loneliness.
We know this as, ‘Candy lay still, staring at the ceiling’. This
suggests how lonelier he must have got after his dog got shot. His
loneliness leads him to the dream dreamt by Lennie and George.
Crooks is another character who is alone. This is because he not only
is old and cripple, but also black. He shows clear signs of solitude.
He says to Lennie that he reads books all the time, but he also says “Books
ain’t no good. A guy wants another guy to talk to.” and, “ A guy goes
nuts if he has no one to talk to.” Crooks is never treated properly
because of the prejudice against him. He is isolated from other
characters because of his colour, and most of the ranch hands mistreat
him by calling him ‘nigger’. As a result of aloneness, he gets
cynical. He wants Lennie to feel how one feels when he is lonely. He
says that, “S’pose that George returns no more.” This shows the effect
of loneliness and isolation on him. The author uses him to show the
prejudice prevalent against blacks during that time.
Another lonely character is Curley’s wife. She is lonely, as she is
the only woman on the...