Mice And Men

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 11th grade October 2001

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"A guy goes nuts if he ain't got nobody. Don't matter no difference who the guy is long as he's with you. I tell ya a guy gets too lonely an' he gets sick." A major theme in Steinbeck's novel, Of Mice and Men is how people suffer from loneliness. The characters, Crooks, Candy, and Curley's wife each suffers the severity of their own seclusion.

Crooks, the stable buck, is a black man that experiences isolation in terms of racism. For example, he is forced to live alone in a separated room, in the barn. "[Crooks] had his bunk in the harness room; a little shed that leaned off the wall of the barn". Because the setting of this book takes place during the 1930's discrimination unfortunately still existed. The farmhands feel that, since he is black he is not worthy of living with the rest of them and as a result, they would - if ever - come into his room and talk to him.

"He [Crooks] kept this distance and demanded that other people keep theirs". Furthermore, his separation from others causes his severe loneliness. He spends his nights reading and his days alone in the barn looking after the horses. Crooks' distance from others eventually causes his downfall. We find discrimination being the major cause of this character's loneliness. Crook is treated as an outcast and an underling and is forced to find friendship in the only thing he can, the books he reads.

Therefore, the emotional pain of Crooks is evident of him suffering from his loneliness.

Candy, the old swapper, was also victimized by isolation as a result of two main factors: his disability and his old age. Throughout the book he was secluded from the rest of the people on the ranch. For instance, when the farmhands are out bucking the barley, Candy is left behind to sweep and clean the ranch. He lost his hand after getting it caught in a piece of machinery and as a result, he is forced to stay behind. This is one of the major factors that leads to his loneliness. Furthermore, Candy's age adds to his feeling of uselessness. He looks down on himself as an old worthless man that is wasting away his last few years. Not only is it the way that others think of him, but also the way Candy thinks of himself that forces him to find solitude.

The most evident case of loneliness in this novel is Curley's wife. No matter how hard she tries she can not fit in. For example, when she tries numerous times to talk to George and Lennie, she either was ignored or told to leave because she was going to cause trouble. "I ain't gonna cause you no trouble. Think I don't like to talk to someone ever' once in a while, think I like to stick in that house alla time?" Because of her reputation for being a flirt, none of the farmhands wanted to talk to her. It was the threat of getting in trouble with Curley that caused many workers to avoid her. In addition, because of Curley's insecure feelings, he neglected her and forced her to seek attention anyway she could, even it meant flirting. She was ignored by both the farmhands and her own husband and because of her incapability of supporting herself, she was being forced into loneliness.

The pain of loneliness is so disabling that not even the strongest can avoid it. Throughout the story, Of Mice and Men, alienation from discrimination and prejudice leads to the emptiness of the soul. Crooks, Candy, and Curley's wife all suffer from this pain which leads them to their loneliness. The severity of consequences for each character's loneliness are a result of the intensity of their desolation.