"Of Mice and Men" is a skillful novel, which deals with the theme of `outsiders', that is, individuals who do not fit into the mainstream of society. The novel portrays this idea of loneliness throughout John Steinbeck's stimulating and exciting novel.
There are several clearly identified themes running through the novel. The loyalty and friendship which exists between two men, George and Lennie, and the hostile environment of America during the American Depression. But, the main two themes of `Of Mice and Men' were loneliness and prejudice.
Steinbeck raises questions in the mind of the reader that the novel would be based on loneliness. The first line read "A few miles south of Soledad". This is a clever idea by Steinbeck as "Soledad" means loneliness in Spanish. The title "Of Mice and Men" may be seen as a warning for the whole novel as it came from Robbie Burns's poem "To a Mouse" which translates as `no matter how well be plan the future, things often go wrong'.
The setting of Steinbeck's novel is very important because the date when the novel took place was in 1929, around the time New York Wall Street stock market collapsed, resulting in the dollar becoming worthless. Unemployment was high at this time and men had to move around a lot looking for work, which meant they were never in one place long enough to form any relationships, so this was a very lonely existence.
Steinbeck shaped the ranch where George Milton and Lennie Small worked in as an isolated and primitive place. Steinbeck uses his personal experience as a ranch worker to describe how the working men at the ranch felt in the novel. George says that "ranch workers are the loneliest people in the world and don't belong nowhere".