ck Of Mice and Men EssaysThe Theme of Loneliness in Of Mice and Men
The theme of loneliness is a dominant theme in john Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men”. He shows it in a variety of ways ranging from Crooks not wanting Lennie to leave his room to Curley’s loveless marriage, even down to candy and his dog and George and Lennie.
Crooks is forced into isolation and loneliness because of the colour of his skin. As Crooks himself says to Lennie “S’pose you couldn’t go into the bunkhouse and play rummy `cause you was black…
a guy goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody”. This is the reason he is so desperate for Lennie to stay and talk to him, and is so overjoyed after spending years of near complete isolation to find that Lennie will talk to him despite his race.
One of the points Steinbeck’s makes about loneliness is what people will do to avoid it. A prime example of this is Curley’s virtually loveless marriage.
Curley’s wife marries because she realises that there isn’t anyone else in town and that she would be all alone without him. This is ironic however as she dooms herself to an even lonelier life at Curley’s jealous hand. The very fact that she doesn’t even have her own name suggests that she isn’t an individual by herself but a “possession” of Curley’s and that there is more ownership between them then companionship.
Last but most importantly is Steinbeck’s argument that there are times when the need for companionship becomes selfish and starts to harm another being.
His two examples of this are Candy and his dog and George and Lennie. Candy loves his dog and would have been alone for many years had it not been for him. This is why Candy keeps him alive can’t bear to put him down even though it would be best for his dog. As Carlson says “You ain’t bein’ kind to him keepin’ him alive”.
George’s relationship with Lennie is very similar. In fact Steinbeck’s goes so far as to describe Lennie as though he is a dog “Lennie covered his face with huge paws”. This is also the reason George shoots Lennie. He realizes that were he to keep Lennie alive it would be more for his sake then for Lennie’s.
Steinbeck displays the theme of loneliness and what people are willing to do to avoid it in a variety of ways.