An Examination of the Theme of Cooperation Versus Isolation in Of Mice and Men

Essay by footballingcellistHigh School, 10th gradeA, January 2009

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An Examination of the Theme of Cooperation Versus Isolation in Of Mice and MenIt has always been an intriguing question: “Are humans inherently good?” This question has been pondered by theologians, philosophers, and anyone to whom it has been posed. No one has been able to formulate a concrete answer, but there is no shortage of theories surrounding the subject. It is clear that circumstances, environments, and experiences shape people’s tendencies to react to different situations, but all theories that run along those lines ignore the word “inherent”. This one, for lack of more knowledge and possibly thought, is the same. Prosperous times bring out the good in people. If someone is living comfortably, they will be happy. If they are happy, then they will be inclined to be friendlier to others around them. When times are bad and people have to struggle do make ends meet, they generally have two options: work with the others around them to try and improve their situation, or slip into the “every man for himself” attitude, singing “Live and Let Die”.

In other words, people choose between cooperation and isolation. Depending on the situation, either of these options is liable to be chosen unconsciously. In Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, Steinbeck focuses on this theme of cooperation versus isolation, and clearly glorifies the first option as superior.

George and Lennie are the only characters in their world that look out for each other and rely on each others companionship. That is what makes their relationship special, and they both know it. Lennie very much likes to be reminded of why they are different from most other men, and makes George explain: “‘Guys like us got no fambly. They make a little stake an’ then they blow it in. They ain’t...