Of Mice And Men Essay Steinbeck's Novel Emphasizes The Loneliness And Powerlessness Of Its Characters, Who Must Take Comfort From Insubstantial Dreams Of A Better Life. Douthat

2010 words - 8 pages

Set in the Salinas Valley in California at the time of the Great Depression, John Steinbeck's novel "Of Mice and Men" offers a brief glimpse into the hardships men faced at this time. The setting, characters, action, style and ideas are deftly written to support Steinbeck's belief in people managing feelings of loneliness and powerlessness through the American Dream. In a world where these feelings are widespread, George, Lennie, Candy, Crooks and Slim seek refuge in insubstantial aspirations of a better life. When George shares his dream with others on the ranch, they all begin to formulate dreams where loneliness and powerlessness is nonexistent. However, when Lennie inadvertently kills Curley's wife, these dreams are dashed. George, Lennie, Candy, Crooks and Slim all portray a type of person in society that is often discriminated against. The themes of loneliness and powerlessness are investigated in and around these men's lives."Of Mice and Men" examines loneliness and powerlessness in relation to the characters' ambitions. There is a part of every person that desires companionship. This is present, though to different extents, in each character, paralleling its presence in the real world. Crooks mentions, "A guy goes nuts if he ain't got nobody. Don't make no difference who the guy is, long's he's with you". (Steinbeck 82), highlighting that while looking for migratory work, men like George and Lennie did not have much time to settle down and make friends. Not many men trusted each other due to the nature of this era, leading to fewer friendships and more men feeling alone. All the characters in the novel experienced loneliness, but handled it through belief in inadequate dreams of a better life.There are many forms of powerlessness - financial, intellectual and societal. All of these are explored in the novel. During this era, money dictated many decisions, and most importantly, power. Most of the characters in the novel lacked money, and therefore did not hold much power. The natural human desire for instantaneous satisfaction also limits the possibility of their dreams occurring - if the men keep spending money on temporary luxuries, they put their dreams on hold and consequently, hope of gaining more control over their financial and social lives. Examples of such men are George, Lennie and Candy. Intellectual powerlessness is touched on through Lennie. He is unable to make decisions for himself, and would probably die if left to his own devices. This leads to both George and Lennie feeling lonely and powerless. Steinbeck expresses societal powerlessness via Crooks. Being a black man, he is more vulnerable to discrimination. Society's beliefs have been so ingrained into him that he believes them all himself, lowering his self-esteem and increasing his feelings of powerlessness. These feelings make the characters seek solace in their dreams of a better life."Of Mice and Men", is set in the Salinas Valley in California, during the Great...

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