This is a very interesting definition of loneliness brought to us by Crooks, one of the pivotal characters, along with Candy and Curleys wife, whom develop the theme of loneliness the most in the novel.
Steinbecks novel Of Mice and Men is set at the time of the Great Depression after the stock market crash of 1929. The currency is almost worthless and people can afford little possessions. Due to the situation, many people move from place to place to find work. This means they are never in one place long enough to form any relationships, thus being a very lonely existence: Guys like us, that live on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world.
George and Lennie are the two main characters of the novel, they find work in a ranch near Soledad: even the name of the small town recalls Solitude, furthermore soledad means loneliness in Spanish. Which emphasises the power and role loneliness has in the novel.
Steinbeck infact emphasises loneliness, powerlessness, and isolation, and his
hatred for it throughout the novel. He contrasts this with the companionship of George and Lennie. They are the only men who actually travel together,and look out for each other, and this is proved by the way everyone is suspicious of their friendship.
The three characters I have chosen to describe the theme of loneliness are very jealous of the two mens friendship. They are: Crooks, Candy and Curleys wife.
Crooks is a black man that is isolated because of the racist society of the early Twentieth Century. The loneliness that Crooks feels is created by the discrimination of the white ranchers towards him.
Crooks does not know how to relate to other people because he is mistreated, he is disrespected and isolated: he cant participate at the daily events with the other white people, he doesnt know how to control his frustration and therefore is angry at everyone.
Cause Im black. They play cards in there, but I cant play because Im Black. They say I stink. Well I tell you, you all stink to me!
Moreover, no one likes living in a barn and working with horses all day long, Crooks spends all his nights reading to take shelter from society.
Crooks is fascinated by George and Lennies strong friendship
Well, spose, jus spose he dont come back. Whatll you do then?
Crooks asks such questions, because having no friends he doesnt know how it feels. he tries in every way to seek understanding and to begin friendships with other people, he would do anything to come out of his solitude and depression.
¦If you¦guys would want a hand to work for nothing Just his keep, why Id come an lend a hand. I aint so crippled I can work like a son-of-a-bitch if I want to.
Crooks, too, experiences the emotional bleakness of the majority of the characters drawn by Steinbeck in this story, as shown in his jealousy of George and Lennies friendship and his desire to join in the dream of part-owning their own ranch. Crooks wants to participate in George and Lennies dream not only because he wants to leave the hostile ranch he works in but because he too wants to be involved in their friendship.
Candy is an old, physically disabled swamper. He has worked on the ranch for a great part of his life, and it is on this very farm he was victim of a machinery accident which cost his hand, leaving him behind money but loneliness. His old age and his handicap make him feel useless, this thought makes him more handicapped than his missing hand. He feels like a useless old man who is wasting the last few years of his miserable life.
He is haunted by the idea of losing his job because he is a cripple and that this will then further lead him to death.
I got hurt four years ago. Theyll can purty soon. Jusas soon as I cant swamp out no bunk houses theyll put me on the county
Candy thinks that no one wants to be his friend because he has missing a hand. He is often invited by the other people on the ranch to drink and play cards but always refuses because he has a very low self-esteem, so Candy is putting a loneliness tag on himself and not the other people.
At the end he tries to make friends joining George and Lennies dream: to have their own ranch. This is one of Candys feeble attempts to make place for himself in society, and to give himself a goal in life.
Ill wash the dishes an little chick stuff like that. But Ill be on your own place, an Ill be let to work on our own place.
After Candy lost his dog he felt even more lonely than before, his dog was the only possession Candy actually owned and that he could take care of by himself. After his death Candy owned nothing, not one important thing.
The relationship between Candy and his dog is the same as that between George and Lennie.
While George had Lennie and the other ranchers had each other, Candy on the other hand had no one, and this led him to depression and loneliness.
No one else in the book shared the same dreams as Candy. This is why he so desperately seeks attention from George and Lenny. He even offers them money, but as its well known money doesnt buy friendship
Maybe if I give you money, youll let me how in the garden even after I aint no good at it.
Curleys wife is another pivotal character and her hasty marriage to Curley proves to be another failed attempt of escaping from her own spiral of loneliness. In addition, his failure to satisfy her either emotionally or physically leads her to seek solace in the other men even those at the very bottom of the social hierarchy of the ranch.
Curleys wife is a tease to everybody on the ranch. She will dress and act in a provocative way. She uses her beautiful body to attract attention; she does this so she will feel less lonely. These acts make her feel wanted and important, because she always has everyones eyes on her, but at the same it gives her a bad reputation, and so none of the ranchers wants to talk to her. This seek for attention prevents her from getting rid of the sexual image the other men have of her.
Maybe you better go along to you own house now. We dont want no trouble. George sees Curleys wife as a very dangerous threat, he soon refers to her as rat trap. This shows us how radical sexism was like in the 1930s and how woman were treated in that society.
Although the sympathy we at first feel for her soon diminishes due to her cruelty, and the she treats: Candy Crooks and Lennie referring to them as a nigger an a dum- dum and a lousy ol sheep moreover she dismisses their dream as Balony.
Curleys wife notices how simple-minded Lennie is and takes advantage of that situation. She knows that Lennie is the only person, with whom she can discuss her problems. Her type of loneliness is caused when there is no one around you to talk to.
This underlines the sexist society of the time, a society that didnt care of a womens opinion; a society that only looked at women in cat houses and brothels. Curleys wife was aware of this and tried to seek attention through her body,
Maybe Curleys wife demanded too much of Lennys simple mind, more that what he could give to her: without meaning to, he kills her. Curleys wifes death can be seen both as a tragedy and as something positive because she ended all of her sufferings.
All these three characters are very alike even though they have different types of solitude, because everyone tries to solve their problems in some way. All three also try to get closer to George and Lennis friendship.
Solitude is an inevitable fact of life, an important phase of growth that not even the strongest people can avoid.