An analysis of the theme of the novella Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck.
The worst hardship is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved. In the novel Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, George and Lennie find work in a ranch near Salinas to eventually earn enough money for a plot of land of their own. There, they meet people such as Crooks and Curley’s wife who openly discuss their feelings of loneliness. Although the bond between George and Lennie is a rare and wonderful thing, they eventually separate tragically. Steinbeck uses these characters to deliver his message that although people desire to become friends with one another, the world is too harsh to support such friendships.
In addition, Crooks first dismisses their attempt on trying to own a plot of land as futile, but he is eventually allured by the vision and offers to “come an’ lend a hand” (76). He talks about his loneliness and fear of being cast away as a reason to go with them; he is so desperate to have someone to talk to that he confides about his loneliness to a complete stranger. Like all of the men in Of Mice and Men, he wishes to come together as friends and have someone in the world who cares about them.
Crooks is reminded of his true identity when Curley’s wife threatens to lynch him. The fact that Curley’s wife used just his race to make him completely powerless shows how his isolation from the white people at the ranch serves as his only protection against the racist and dangerous world. Crooks realizes this and changes his mind about going to the farm with them, therefore strengthening the fact that their ideal life of living in friendship and brotherhood is hopeless in this inhospitable world. He has no choice in his life and will likely be trapped in this secluded ranch for the rest of his life.
Curley’s wife’s loneliness drastically changes how she interacts with other people, making her coquettish and insecure, which ultimately leads to her tragic death. Before she married Curley and came to the ranch, she dreamed about an actor marrying her and bringing her to Hollywood. In a way, this is like her version of the workers’ dream farm; she would have fame, companionship, and a place to live. She is so desperate for companionship that she married Curley and assumed it was her mother’s fault for not receiving a letting from the actor. Moreover, to satiate her need for someone to talk to, she puts on a lot of makeup and flirts with everyone on the ranch. Her insecurity and low self-esteem are shown by her heavy makeup. Curley’s wife thinks that this is the only way to deal with her loneliness, but the men do not flirt with her, fearing that they will be punished for associating with her. Furthermore, she gets killed by Lennie as a result of her flirting. The paranoid workers give her no choice but to talk with Lennie. She does not realize Lennie’s prodigious strength and ends up paying with her life. Her experiences prove that Crooks is right.
In essence, the bond between Lennie and George is idealized among the people in the novel.