English 1 (H)
Loneliness in John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men
John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men suggests that loneliness and isolation drive different social outsiders together. George is the first character in the novel to suggest that the loneliness itinerant ranch hands naturally face leads them to seek companionship. When he and Lennie settle in for the night before going to the Tyler Ranch, he says to Lennie, “Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world. They got no family. They ain’t got nothing to look ahead to. . . With us it ain’t like that. We got a future. We got somebody to talk to that gives a damn about us” (Steinbeck 13). George and Lennie’s lifestyle encourages their closeness because they have no one else to rely on. Like George and Lennie, Crooks’ isolation leads him to desire companionship. Crooks illustrates this need when he invites Lennie into his home and attempts to educate Lennie on the repercussions of loneliness, “A guy needs somebody—to be near him. . . A guy goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody. Don’t make no difference who the guy is, long’s he’s with you. I tell ya,’ he cried, ‘I tell ya a guy get’s too lonely an’ he gets sick” (69). Crooks’ illustrates that his lack of companionship manifests itself physically and emotionally. The only alleviation of these symptoms for Crooks occurs when he offers to work on Candy, George, and Lennie’s farm (Steinbeck 76). Similarly, Curley’s wife seeks out other people as a way to cope with her loneliness. She asks, “Think I don’t like to talk to somebody ever once in a while? Think I like to stick in that house alla time?” (74). The role of wife restricts Curley’s wife’s ability to interact with other people; thus, she goes in search of companionship. Ultimately, in representing various characters’ loneliness and isolation, Steinbeck suggests that sometimes alienation can unite people of different backgrounds.