John Steinbeck – Essay on Loneliness

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“Of Mice and Men” essay on Loneliness is a basic part of human life. Every one becomes lonely once in a while but in Steinbeck’s novella “Of Mice and Men”, he illustrates the loneliness of ranch life in the early 1930’s and shows how people are driven to try and find friendship in order to escape from loneliness. Steinbeck creates a lonely and blue atmosphere at many times in the book. He uses names and words such as the town near the ranch called “Soledad”, which means loneliness and the card game “Solitaire” Which means by ones self. He makes it clear that all the men on the ranch are lonely, with particular people lonelier than others. In the opening chapter, Steinbeck introduces the idea of loneliness and men who work on ranches living temporary lives, with no aim in life. Steinbeck uses the setting to convey these ideas. As they were walking along the path, it is described as ” a path beaten by hard boys coming down from the ranches to swim in the deep pool, and beaten hard by tramps who come wearily down from the highway in the evening to jungle-up near water” (p.18) This creates a setting and shows how men who work on the ranch have had temporary, isolated and lonely lives. He also writes “an ash-pile made by many fires” (p.18) This shows that many men must have walked through this road to enter a lonely and miserable life, moving from ranch to ranch finding useless work. I think all the people living in the ranch are lonely. This proves this where Steinbeck describes the bunk house where all the workers sleep. “Over each bunk there was nailed an apple box with the opening forward so that it made two shelves for personal belongings of the occupant of the bunk.” (p38) The way Steinbeck describes the bunkhouse indicates their lonely lives. Also by only having two shelves for their personal belongings shows their lonely insecure lives.
However, there are particular people in the ranch who have lonelier lives than others. The loneliest person on the ranch has to be Crooks, who suffers from extreme loneliness because he is black and he is living in a ranch and the surrounding area which is very racist. He lives by himself, because the other men do not like him. He does not take part in any of the social activities in the ranch and is left out completely. He is so lonely that he turns to books, which soon becomes boring and he will become lonely again. He is so desperate for company and for someone to talk, even though he does not really show it. When Lennie comes into his room he just talks and doesn’t care if Lennie is listening or not, because he is so desperate. Crooks says to Lennie “A guy goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody. Don’t matter no difference who the guy is, longs he with you. I tell ya a guy gets too lonely an he gets sick” (p.105) This shows that he desperately needs a friend to talk to and he is at the point where he is becoming emotionally sick of it. In a way this point made by Crooks shows that George and Lennie support each other from being very lonely, even if Lennie is as thick as an ape, he still disables George from being lonely. George and Lennie have something which all the men on the ranch envy and that is friendship. Crooks calls Lennie “nuts” and does not believe that Lennie will own his own land with George and Candy. He exclaims “An’ never a God damn one of `em ever gets it. Just like heaven. Ever’body wants a little piece of lan’. It’s just in their head.” (p.106) This shows that he has no hope for the future and that he has no belief in men from that ranch going to heaven or a better place.

Crooks is probably the loneliest character in the ranch with Curley’s wife. There are two characters that we never get to know the name, they are the boss and Curley’s wife. The boss does not seem to be friends with any of the men, maybe to keep his place as higher than everyone else, or in case he has to sack one of the workers. However, there is prove that he is not friendly person as he does not seem to understand friendship between two people. Such as where George told The Boss tat they travel together, he replied “What stake you got in this guy? You takin’ his pay away from him? (p.43) This show that nobody understands friendship, as it does not exist on the ranch. Curley’s wife is controlled by her husband, who does not let her speak to any of the men on the ranch, which leads her into being lonely. Even though Curley’s wife is mentioned frequently, we never know what her name is. This just shows how people do not care for others, leading to loneliness. I think all the men do not consider her as a normal human being, but and object. None of the men are to scared to talk to her in case Curley becomes jealous and wants to start a fight. She has no female friends on the ranch, so the men are her only option, but they do not want to become friends with her.She spots out Lennie and wants to start a friendship with him as all of the others fear Curley and will have nothing to do with her. She says to Lennie Think I dont like to talk to somebody ever once in a while? This shows that she is trying to tell Lennie that she desperately needs to talk to somebody as she hardly does ever talk to no-one because they do not listen to her. I do not think that She should be as lonely as she is, because she has a husband, but he ignores her and just goes out to Cat houses once in a while, where she is not allowed to go anywhere, but stay in the house. I am given the impression that she is living in two lives. In reality she is living in a boring ranch, with no companionship in isolation. However, she also believes that she would make it to the movies one day. She says to Lennie “I aint used to livin like this. I coulda made something of myself… maybe I will yet “(p.124) Because she is so lonely, she wants to think of herself as having a future ahead of her, but of course she doesn’t.

when Curleys Wfe is Killed by Lennie, Steinbeck describes Curley’s wife as a pretier figure. He writes “..the meanness and the plannings of the discontent and the ache for attention were all gone from her face.” (p.128) This shows that now Curley’s wife is dead, she now looks happy and has escaped from her loneliness.

Curley’s Wife is not the only one with a dream future, Crooks wishes he could be educated in the future, but like he said, “never a God damn one of `em ever gets it”. Also Candy has a dream of owning a future farm with Lennie and George. Candy is an old ranch worker who is disabled due to an accident in the past. He is now a swamper, who’s only companionship was his dog, until Carlson shoots it for him because it is old and useless, just like Candy. Later on in the book, he wishes he should have shot the dog himself, which is similar to the tragic fate with George and Lennie later on in the book. When his dog dies, he searches for new friendship as he does not want to grow older and older being lonely. He hopes George and Lennie will become these friends, as when he overhears them talking about their dream ranch he offers his savings into that farm, and makes George and Lennie’s dream begin to turn into reality.

” `S’pose I went in with you guys. That’s three hundred and fifty bucks I’d put in… How’d that be? ” (p.87) This shows that he is fed up of being in a place where he is not wanted. He knows that he is going to get sacked soon, when he is no use at all, and he will have no place, no friends and no life to turn to. That is why he is sacrificing his savings into a farm, which he could live the rest of his life in, in peace and comfort. Candy’s desperate attempt to be a part of their dream shows us the amount of loneliness that exists for him.

I believe all the other characters on the ranch, such as Whit, Carlson, Slim and Curley, are all also lonely, but they seem not to care. Curley, however, even though he has a wife, seems to be lonely. Not very many people like him as he is not a very nice man. He wants to keep his place on the ranch by looking down on people, and by keeping his wife away from the other men. This has led for him to have no friends. This is probably why he goes to a brothel with other ranch men, as you have to be lonely to go to a cat house.

George and Lennie seem to be two lonely men. George has to always keep an eye on Lennie and therefore Lennie is a burden to him. Lennie on the other hand is lonely, but he is too dim to understand. He seems to live in his own world, and evolves everything around whether it pleases George or not. But they have something that all the other men have not got, and that is a true friendship. Lennie is there for George to keep sane, while George is there to help Lennie. George likes to talk to Lennie most of the time about their dream ranch. He says to Lennie that guys like us are the loneliest people in the world but he comments on themselves “With us it aint like that. We got a future. We got somebody to talk to that gives a damn about us..” (p.32) This just shows that they both enjoy talking to each other, making each other happy. But later on in the book, George loses Lennie, as he kills him himself. When one of the members of a friendship is removed, there is much misery. When Candy lost his dog, he kept thinking about him. He felt he should have shot his dog himself, not a stranger. When George had to shoot Lennie, he felt terrible. He had just shot his best friend, his only friend in the world. Because of this, he has to live the rest of his life alone and knowing that he killed his only friend. But I think he did the right thing. I think it shows their strong friendship. George did what was best for himself and for Lennie, a she could not watch Lennie die miserably in pain, getting brutally killed by George. He wanted George to die peacefully, thinking about the thing he loves about the most-rabbits. He knew Lennie would have died in slow and cruel way if he left it for Curley.

After George killed Lennie, it seems that he would have a better life without him, but really he would have a worse life and would turn out like the other ranch workers. He will suffer from loneliness and will have no true friends. Of course, his dream will never come true as he could not precede with it without Lonnie. I think the simple moral to the story is Every body needs someone to talk to in order to survive. Curley’s wife died because she had no one to talk to. Crooks says he feels sick sometimes because he is so lonely. It is obvious that he will not live a happier life and will probably die soon. And Candy, he is old and lonely and is associated with his dog. stein beck writes he will go into the same direction as his dog, which is probably true. It is obvious that all the workers on the ranch will die a sad and lonely death, mainly because they had no friends. If this book taught me anything, it`ll have to be, every body needs a friend to talk to, no matter what race, sex or age, you have to have companionship to prevent you from suffering from loneliness.

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