The Element Of Loneliness And Isolation Discussed In "Of Mice And Men" By John Steinbeck.

1549 words - 6 pages

Steinbeck's novel, "Of Mice and Men", teaches a grim lesson about the nature of human existence and isolation. The novel emphasizes the loneliness and powerlessness of its characters, who must take comfort from insubstantial dreams of a better life. Nearly all of the characters, including Lennie, Candy, and Crooks, admit, at one time or another, to having a profound sense of loneliness and isolation. We clearly see that each desires the comfort of a friend, but will settle for the attentive ear of a stranger. Perhaps the most powerful example of this tendency is in when all the ranch hands go to town, leaving Crooks, Lennie, and Candy behind. They desperately admit to each other their fear of being cast off because of their disabilities; Lennie for his mental disability, Crooks for his skin colour, and Candy for his old age. Being outcasts, Lennie, Crooks, and Candy discuss the dream of owning their own farm, where they will be respected and considered useful. In this section of the novel, Steinbeck emphasizes the value of relationships by expressing the novel's social outcasts' continual search for companionship. It should come as no surprise, therefore, that men like Candy and Crooks idealize dignity and respect in such a way given the harsh, lonely conditions under which they live.All throughout his discussion with Lennie, Crooks, the black stable buck who takes his name from his crooked back, admits his extreme loneliness. At first, he turns Lennie away, hoping to prove his point that if he, as a black man, is not allowed in the other ranch hands quarters, then the other men are not allowed in his. "You got no right to come in my room...Nobody got any right in here but me" (Steinbeck 68). Nonetheless, his desire for company ultimately wins out and he invites Lennie in his room saying, "Come on in and set a while" (Steinbeck 69). When Lennie asks him why he is not wanted, Crooks expresses his resentment to the unfair ranch hands that require him to sleep alone in the stable because of his colour saying " 'Cause I'm black. They play cards in there, but I can't play because I'm black. They say I'm stink" (Steinbeck 69). As a result of the racist attitudes of others on the farm, we clearly see that Crooks is placed in a position of subordination and is mostly ignored. Next, we see that Crooks behaviour with Lennie reveals the predatory nature of the ranch hands' world. For not only will the strong attack the weak but the weak will attack the weaker. Feeling weak and vulnerable himself, Crooks cruelly suggests to Lennie that George might never return from town saying " S'pose George don't come back no more. What will you do then?" (Steinbeck 71). He enjoys torturing Lennie, until Lennie becomes angry and threatens Crooks, demanding to know "Who hurt George?" (Steinbeck 72). Crooks hastily backs down, promising that George will come back. Ultimately, however, Crooks desires companionship because he then backs down saying "A guy goes nuts if he...

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