The novel Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck, is centered on America during the Great Depression in the 1930s. Many men were hard workers who had to travel from ranch to ranch, looking for wages that would be sufficient to keep them going for the time being. This type of life is hard on a soul and these men were the loneliest, with no companionship. Of Mice and Men demonstrates that healthy relationships are vital to living a fulfilled life through the characters George and Lennie, Candy and his dog, and Curley and his wife. George and Lennie are linked together by a shared past, by a dream of the future, and by current circumstances. For the two of them, friendship is everything. It is evident that in the harsh world they inhabit, Lennie could not possibly function without George, who holds his companion’s work card and always does the talking for him (Steinbeck 5).
Lennie wouldn’t know what to do with himself if George was not there. Even though it seems wrong, George loves Lennie enough to do what is best for him. When George discovers that Lennie killed Curley’s wife, he leaves with the others to find Lennie before Curley does, thus saving him from the fate of Curley’s wrath that was in the form of a gun (94). He cares deeply for Lennie and doesn’t want him to feel the pain coming from Curley and Carlson’s gun. This is why, when he finds Lennie, George reminds him of buying their own farm and pulls out the gun he stole from Carlson.
Clearly, it can be shown the sacrifice George is making to guarantee that Lennie gets his dream of the farm. Crooks is an African American stable worker who is separated from everyone because of his race. He lives alone and never has anyone to talk too. Crooks lacks someone to share his experience but can’t tell if what he sees before him is real or merely a dream (80).
However, Curley’s wife is there to remind Crooks that his status is all too real when he says “‘ gonna ast the boss not to ever let come in the barn no more’” (80). Crooks was fast to obey to Curley’s wife when she threatened him because of his response of, “‘Yes, ma’am’” (81). He’s more afraid of what she could have done to him because she is married to the boss’s son. He has known of discrimination for his entire life and it’s never been his fault. He was beginning to have hope again and she snatched it from him, reminding him of where he is and how he can not be the person he wants to be. Crooks shuts down and shows no emotion to her even no matter how angry he is with her, about how he’s treated. He realizes he can not afford to lose his place on the ranch unlike everyone else there. Curley and his wife should be one of the closest relationships, but they lack communication and never appear in the same scene together. They are portrayed as barely acquaintances, much less married.
The readers are led to believe that Curley’s wife had always waited for the day that she grew up and was able to leave her home because her mother and herself were in a borderline abusive relationship and that was very unhealthy (88). She opened up about her feelings to Lennie because he was the only one who wouldn’t judge her. Lennie knew that he wasn’t supposed to talk to her but she didn’t why that was so she asked him, “‘Why can’t I talk to you? I never get to talk to nobody. I get awful lonely’” (86). Curley’s wife is always lonely and because of who she’s married to. No one would talk to her because she was associated with Curley, who in their eyes, was the boss’s son, and the boss’s son, could have you let out of a job. No matter where Curley’s wife went, she would constantly hear things like, “‘You ain’t wanted here,’” (79) from many men around the farm, along with the constant and berating names they would target her with.
She constantly tried to talk to some of the other occupants on the ranch but they didn’t want to become associated with her because of what Curley might do to them. If she had a healthy relationship with Curley and she was able to express her feelings to Curley then maybe she wouldn’t have been seen so poorly in the eyes of those who occupy the farm. Of Mice and Men demonstrates that in order to live a fulfilled life, healthy relationships are vital through George and Lennie, Candy and his dog, and Curley and his wife. Relationships help to fight off loneliness in which most of the characters face. It’s important for them to remember the lasting impacts loneliness can have on life. They are tools directed by the printed words on their pages, puppets to teach the audience the themes that Steinbeck deems most important to life.