An outsider like crippled Crooks has no one to protect him, all he has is his American Civil Law book which defends his rights as a individual living in the U. S. A and seems to give him a certain comfort knowing that not anyone can argue against his tattered old book. Just as all of his feelings are exposed, Curley’s wife threatens him and once again, he withdraws himself back to the liniment which seems to be the only thing in the world that makes Crooks feels better, even if he is ostracised from the rest. Curley’s wife is one of the most significant characters to the novel because she shows loneliness on different levels.
Because of being married to Curley she has a high status in the ranch, but this is exactly why she has no one but herself. Workers are afraid of getting too close to her in case innocent talking turns into more which could cost them their jobs… or even lives. Nevertheless she is led to seek solace with the other men even if they are at the bottom of the social hierarchy on the ranch. And due to all the isolation, the only way to get noticed by the other men is to be a charmer, but this is what makes her so misunderstood.
She expresses her true feelings about what could have been to Lennie while he sits on the hay and absorbs absolutely nothing but reflects on the poor little pup that he unintentionally killed. Curley’s wife reminisces about how she could have been a Hollywood star and had all the superficial items that so many celebrities buy. Throughout her time on the ranch she has always thought her mother was the reason why Hollywood never became a reality for her, she said, ‘I never got that letter, I always thought my old lady stole it. So I married Curley.
‘ This was her dream while on the ranch and like so many others, it shows how much of an outsider and a gullible person she was. In her life there had always been dominant figures like her mother and then Curley. So she has no real idea about how to be autonomous and become more of an independent woman. It could be said that she doesn’t know how to interact correctly with people, persistently asking sympathetic rhetorical questions and also being very manipulative and discerning. These virtues are what make Curley’s wife such a great character, she has no official name but is possibly one of the most complex characters to depict.
Lennie is a simple person, mentally and literally. No one actually understands what he is saying most of the time because the ranch workers have never seen anyone so perplexed and bewildered as he. Without George he would be lost in life, Lennie relies on him to eat and to get him out of trouble whenever it’s needed most. Even though he blows arguments out of proportion by saying things like, ‘I wouldn’t eat no ketchup if it was right here beside me’ although he really does want the ketchup and is just playing on his own innocence.
In one perspective Lennie is quite clever because if there is an opportunity where he can get George to take pity on him, then he will take it, but the majority of the time he is just retarded through no fault of his own. In the book sometimes Lennie is compared to an animal, like when he didn’t want to give the mouse to George but then handed it over and started to sulk, ‘Slowly, like a terrier who doesn’t want to bring a ball back to its master, Lennie approached.
‘ And another time was when he was walking along the dusty road with George, ‘He walked heavily, dragging his feet a little, the way a bear drags his paws. ‘ Steinbeck chooses to describe him as an animal to symbolise the title, ‘Of Mice and Men’, maybe Lennie is the mouse and George is the man or the other way round. That’s how Lennie is an outsider, because he’s an amoral animal who doesn’t know his own strength, which is sometimes practical, but when he handles creatures and humans too ruthlessly, he does not know when to stop and that is when the exertion begins for George and Lennie.
Lennie and George stick together through thick and thin, even when times get complicated, George seems to find a way out for the pair of them. ‘Circular narrative’ is when something happens in a story and after a while it occurs again. Throughout the novel Lennie repeats phrases and quotes to George that they have already talked about previously, like the whole ketchup scenario, tending the rabbits, owning and living off the fat of the land etc. This shows that Lennie knows George so well that he assumes all there is to talk about is rabbits and land.
That is what makes him a lonesome man because all the conversation is about the same thing and whatever he wants to talk about. All the characters in ‘Of Mice and Men’ go through a form of loneliness and a feeling of not belonging. At times they can be self-centred which is mainly when two characters are in discussion which each other but not paying attention to the other. Maybe this is one of the reasons that loneliness strikes them, as they do not listen and are all wrapped up in their own impenetrable worlds.
But this is what makes the book ‘Of Mice and Men’ so fascinating to read, all the people have their own problems and dreams because they all share the strong emotions of loneliness and individuality, and even though they may think that they are all diverse, the audience can grasp that each person is more and more like the other.