Of Mice and Men Essay - Steinbeck's novel emphasizes the loneliness and powerlessness of its characters, who must take comfort from insubstantial dreams of a better life. -Douthat

Essay by rrswongHigh School, 10th gradeA, May 2008

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Set in the Salinas Valley in California at the time of the Great Depression, John Steinbeck's novel "Of Mice and Men" offers a brief glimpse into the hardships men faced at this time. The setting, characters, action, style and ideas are deftly written to support Steinbeck's belief in people managing feelings of loneliness and powerlessness through the American Dream. In a world where these feelings are widespread, George, Lennie, Candy, Crooks and Slim seek refuge in insubstantial aspirations of a better life. When George shares his dream with others on the ranch, they all begin to formulate dreams where loneliness and powerlessness is nonexistent. However, when Lennie inadvertently kills Curley's wife, these dreams are dashed. George, Lennie, Candy, Crooks and Slim all portray a type of person in society that is often discriminated against. The themes of loneliness and powerlessness are investigated in and around these men's lives.

"Of Mice and Men" examines loneliness and powerlessness in relation to the characters' ambitions. There is a part of every person that desires companionship. This is present, though to different extents, in each character, paralleling its presence in the real world. Crooks mentions, "A guy goes nuts if he ain't got nobody. Don't make no difference who the guy is, long's he's with you". (Steinbeck 82), highlighting that while looking for migratory work, men like George and Lennie did not have much time to settle down and make friends. Not many men trusted each other due to the nature of this era, leading to fewer friendships and more men feeling alone. All the characters in the novel experienced loneliness, but handled it through belief in inadequate dreams of a better life.

There are many forms of powerlessness - financial, intellectual and societal. All of these are explored in...