Discuss the theme of loneliness and isolation in John Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men"

Essay by fiona_jones October 2006

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"Of Mice and Men" by John Steinbeck, is a powerful novel telling the story of two men, Lennie and George, who try to achieve their dream of owning their own ranch. They find work on a farm near a place called Soledad, and are met by very unequal people. Most of the characters on this farm are lonely and the only thing that keeps them alive is their dreams. Using different ways though natures and these people, Steinbeck shows us the main theme of loneliness and isolation in this novel, and tries making the point that loneliness is painful.

Steinbeck creates a lonely and isolated atmosphere. The scenery is set as though there are no other people around. He often uses nature, mainly animals, to give the feeling of solitude, 'the leaves lie deep and so crisp that a lizard makes a great skittering if he runs among them.'

(pg 18), 'Rabbits come out of the brush to sit on the sand' (pg 18) 'the rabbits sat as quietly as the little gray, sculptured stones.' (pg 19) Whenever George plays cards, always puts of a 'solitaire lay' (pg 49), which is a one player game, and when Lennie and George walk together, they walk single file, 'Behind him came George, and behind George, Lennie.' (pg 38) This lonely and isolated atmosphere gives off an unhappy feeling and a sense of intenseness.

Exploring the characters a little more, Crooks, Candy and Curly's wife in particular, Steinbeck demonstrates the effect of loneliness. Crooks is lonely as he is the only coloured one, 'There wasn't another colored family for miles around.' (pg 102) He keeps himself to himself because he believes that the white people want nothing to do with a Negro. He chooses to sleep in a separate barn all by...