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“Of Mice and Men” – John Steinbeck Essay

In Chapter 4 of “Of Mice and Men,” John Steinbeck portrays Crooks, Lennie, Candy, and Curley’s wife as outcasts who although are lonely and seek each others companionship, ostracize each other nevertheless. Each of said characters seek companionship, are outcasts, and as a result abase one another.

Crooks, Candy, Curley’s wife, and Lennie are lonely and therefore seek companionship. Crooks is a very lonely character, and may in fact be the most diverse due to both his handicap and race. When he gets company, he tries to conceal his pleasure with anger; he does not welcome others into his abode because they discriminate against him (his impediment is therefore seen as a spiteful retaliation), but at the same time he is delighted to have company. When Crooks sees Lennie standing at the doorway smiling at him, Crooks gives in and allows him to stay, telling him “you can come if ya want.” Lennie is also lonely, for he is drawn to Crooks’ stable when he sees the light on; when he approached Crooks, he “smiled helplessly in an attempt to make friends.” Candy later comes in to the stable, as Crooks allows him to come in; he is modest about Crooks’s welcome, saying “of course if you want me to.”

Candy is a passive man virtually unable to take any independent action and his one major act in the book, offering Lennie and George money in order to go in on a piece of land together, is a means by which he can become dependent on them; this is a result of his impeding loneliness. Lastly, Curley’s wife enters the stable. Her presence is almost nomadic; she wonders around the whole ranch, seeking company and then parting. Generally considered to be a tramp by the men at the ranch, Curley’s Wife is the only major character in Of Mice and Men whom Steinbeck does not give a name.

She dislikes her husband and feels desperately lonely at the ranch, for she is the only woman and feels isolated from the other men, who openly scorn her. She still holds some small hope of a better life, claiming that she had the chance to become a movie star in Hollywood, but otherwise is a bitter and scornful woman who shamelessly uses sex to intimidate the workers. When she enters the stable, she pretends as if she is looking for Curley, but she really just wants company. Each of the aforementioned characters seek each others companionship and company to keep from getting lonely.

Crooks, Candy, Curley’s wife, and Lennie are also scrutinized as outcasts in the society in which they live, due to their defects – Crooks being a black cripple, Candy an old handicapped man, Curley’s wife being female, and Lennie whom is afflicted with mental retardation. Their reclusive stature is justified in the names in which they call themselves; Crooks calls himself “black” and a “busted back nigger.” Candy is called a “busted sheep,” Lennie a “dum dum,” and Curley’s wife a “tart.” Furthermore, Steinbeck does not give Curley’s wife a name; this illustrates that women in the concurrent era were looked down upon. Crooks, Curley’s wife, Candy, and Lennie are further exemplified as outcasts by the fact that Slim, George, and Whit left them behind. Crooks, Candy, Curley’s wife, and Lennie are “exiled” from society and left to be alone.

With the pain, loneliness, and fear which they feel, Crooks, Candy, Curley’s wife, and Lennie degrade each other. They call each other names, and Curley’s wife adds to these statements by saying “they [George, Slim, and Whit] left the weak ones behind.” Candy calls her a “bitch” and reminds her that they at least have friends. Candy and Crooks even indicate that they want her to leave, that they have “had enough.”

Crooks, Lennie, Candy, and Curley’s wife are portrayed as outcasts who although are lonely and seek each others companionship, they ostracize each other nevertheless because of the over bearing society in which they live. They demean and mortify one another to make themselves feel better – to attain a private victory that the other is more of an outcast than the former. They would rather have bitter company as to no company.

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