24/7 writing help on your phone
“Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck is about two ranch workers aiming to fulfill their dream of having their own farm. The story occurs in the 1930s, which is the time of the Great Depression in America. A main theme in “Of Mice and Men” is loneliness, and characterization highlights this theme. The novel incorporates different characters who all faced loneliness and isolation due to multiple reasons. Crooks is for his race, Candy is for his age, Curley’s wife is for her gender and George is for his obligation to Lennie.
The way these characters respond to these situations represents the crippling power of isolation of a human being.
Crooks represents isolation as racial segregation was a big issue at that time. Crooks bullies Lennie through saying “Le’s says he wants to come back and can’t. S’pose he gets killed so he can’t com back. What’ll you do then?” Repeating “come back” indicates that Crooks wishes a friend to come back, similar to how George does for Lennie.
Crooks is someone who has a black skin colour, and beaten down by prejudicial treatment. The quote expresses Crooks’ struggles as a black man throughout the 1930’s. Crooks isn’t allowed to be near the whites, who was the majority at the ranch. He’s forced to live in the stable supervising the horses. While the others can play cards and experience some companionship, Crooks’ only has his books. He despises this exclusion, but he doesn’t have the ability to avoid it, and manages to survive miserably.
The rhetorical question demonstrates Crooks is terrorizing Lennie by saying George will leave him alone. Crooks is jealous of him for having a friend who could protect him. Crooks is a defenceless man, and the biggest victim in the novel, until he meets Lennie. Through successfully threatening Lennie, he can feel powerful, which is what he lacked. He tries to make himself feel valuable by intimidating Lennie. This conveys that he’s been by himself for so long that he desires company.
Since Carlson killed his companion, he’s old, and only has one arm, Candy represents isolation. Candy said “You seen what they done to my dog tonight?” to George and Lennie after Carlson killed his dog. He insisted to follow them, so he could help to make their dream come true. Candy’s dog represents vulnerability. The sheepdog was once young and energetic. Nevertheless, it is now old, so it is unable to work. Therefore, it had no choice but to face the reality, which is death. With a broken arm and his age, Candy is also purposeless. Once someone can’t work anymore, their fate is to be discarded. Furthermore, foreshadowing is included in this quote. The dog was killed with a gunshot in the head, signaling Lennie’s death. Like Candy’s dog, Lennie is meaningless. Despite Lennie being physically strong, he is never able to learn from his mistakes. Lennie doesn’t recognise how strong he is, so he accidentally killed numerous animals. Consequently, he’s pointless and his fate is death. Candy’s dog was killed because it was unproductive. Without his only companion, Candy is friendless. With Candy also being useless, he will soon have to experience the same thing. Candy tries to fix it by offering his cash to join George and Lennie, otherwise he would live solitarily and no one could take care of him. He sees this as an opportunity to escape loneliness, however, at the end, he realises that this would actually never become true. He is tied with the inescapable sadness.
Curley’s wife displays isolation because of her sexuality. Curley’s wife said “Why can’t I talk to you?” to Lennie. At the start, he avoids speaking considering that George forbids him. The rhetorical question proves that she feels abandoned. She uses the excuse of finding Curley to talk to the workers to be able to break free from the feeling of solitude. However, the workers feel disturbed when she does that as they believe that she is trying to gain attention in order to flirt with them. Steinbeck uses characterisation to build the character “Curley’s wife”. She remains anonymous for the whole novel. The name “Curley’s wife” sounds like she is Curley’s property, and not respected as a person. This portrays the truth about society’s view of women. Men were incredibly sexist towards women. Moreover, the workers called her a “tart” from the result of her seductive behaviour. However, her intentions in talking to them were never to flirt with them, in fact, she feels lonely and just wants consolation. She tries to resolve the loneliness by talking to Lennie, as he is the only one that is willing to talk to her. Unfortunately, it goes fails tragically. She offers Lennie to touch her soft hair, but he grabs on too tightly, which made her agitated and started to scream. Lennie attempts to quiet her down by grabbing onto her mouth. However, he shakes her until he broke her neck and she dies. In the end her life still ends being alone.
Although George has Lennie as a friend, but he still presents isolation through his responsibility of protecting and understanding Lennie. George didn’t have an option except to shoot his longtime friend. Steinbeck wrote, “The hand shook violently but his face set and his hand steadied. He pulled the trigger.” He figured that Lennie broke Curley’s wife’s neck and suffocated her while Lennie was just trying to make her stay quiet. He ensured that Lennie thinks of the rabbits that he always hoped to touch. Shortly after, George claimed his friend’s life. Imagery is used in this quote. “Shook violently” communicates that he had no other options. However, he was aware that it was impossible to look after Lennie anymore regardless of how close they are. At first, he escapes isolation, but eventually he indignantly chose to accept the truth.
When Lennie was still alive, George felt restricted with their conversations because their conversations generally were limited and revolved around Lennie. The characterisation of “George” proved that he was loyal and tried to defend Lennie continuously. Although he complained about how easy it would be without Lennie, he never made an effort to flee from keeping Lennie safe. Nonetheless, the quote shows that he has changed. He attempted to save Lennie from a painful death from Curley, who would have made Lennie suffer more than George did. Additionally, it illustrates that George has finally learnt that Lennie won’t improve. George recognizes he’s fortunate to have Lennie, nevertheless, like any other characters, he’s destined to be lonely.
Isolation is inevitable. Nearly every character experiences some loneliness, especially Crooks, Candy and Curley’s wife. Crooks is abandoned by the white workers because of his skin colour. Candy is now alone as his companion was killed. Curley’s wife is ignored for the reason of her sexuality. Even though George wasn’t lonely, but after the death of his friend, he will be like the others. Different characters find different alternatives to escape loneliness. Steinbeck establishes what life was like during the Great Depression and he illustrates how people strive to seek companionship.
👋 Hi! I’m your smart assistant Amy!
Don’t know where to start? Type your requirements and I’ll connect you to an academic expert within 3 minutes.get help with your assignment