Essay title: Of Mice and Men
By John SteinbeckThe novel ‘Of Mice and Men’ written by John Steinbeck, is about a journey the two main characters, George and Lennie take. The ill-assorted pair come across work in a small ranch near a place called ‘Soledad’. This is where they meet the other characters in the story.
One of the main points Steinbeck makes us aware of is the damaging effects of loneliness on people’s lives. The setting also helps to create a clear picture of the loneliness as do the characters they meet.The book is set in the 1930s in Soledad. Workers are given a bunkhouse to stay in while working on the remote ranch. The description Steinbeck gives of the bunkhouse emphasises the lack of security and comfort in the men’s lives as it says‘The walls were whitewashed and the floor unpainted’.This tells us there is a lack of decoration and it is very basic. It also says in the first paragraph ‘Against the walls were eight bunks, five of them made up with the blankets and the other three showing their burlap ticking.
’This shows it was very cramped. Steinbeck also mentions that there is only a wooden latch over the door which shows privacy and security is very poor. George and Lennies first impression of the bunkhouse is that it was not what they expected. While looking at a small yellow can that contained poison for killing lice and roaches George said‘Say.
What the hell’s this?’ He clearly shows he is not impressed with the bunkhouse he is given and it gives a clear picture of the empty, comfortless existence in which they lived. On the ranch are many lonely, unhappy people. One of these we meet is Candy, the old swamper.
He is a misfit on the ranch as he is old and only has one hand. His only companion is his dog. He had him since it was a puppy but Carlson said it was too old and smelled.
He persuaded Candy to let him shoot it and said‘He don’t have no fun … and he stinks to beat hell. Tell you what I’ll shoot him for you. Then it won’t be you that does it.’ After the dogs death Candy was left with nobody. I feel a lot of sympathy for Candy when Carlson shoots his dog as he’s Candy’s best friend and all he had. Candy now wants to join in with George and Lennies dream of owning their own house as it will give him security and he is afraid of getting fired.
This is because he is so old and can only do light jobs about the ranch and because of this he feels he will not be able to find another job. He says to George‘I aint got the poop no more.’This also makes me feel sorry for Candy as he knows he does not have the energy to do much anymore. Another very lonely person on the ranch is Curleys Wife. Her name is never mentioned in the book as she is not regarded as important enough to be identified with a name. She is the only female on the ranch which could lead a lot to her isolation.
She also has no friends as the men on the ranch do not like her and they give the reader the impression that she is a tart or slut. This may be because she puts herself on show by wearing a thick layer of make up which gives an idea that she pays a lot of attention to her appearance. A description Steinbeck gives of her is ‘Full rouged lips. Wide spaced eyes. Heavily made up.
’ Candy says ‘Well she got the eye’He says this because she is over friendly with all the men on the ranch and flirts with them at any given opportunity. Her main reason for doing this however is that she has nobody else to talk to. She says‘Howd you like not to talk to anybody.’ This shows she is lonely and really just wants a friend. The men are cautious of her as they are scared of what Curley will do if he sees them with his wife and because of this her husband is a main reason for her loneliness.
They try and keep their distance from her which leaves her feeling isolated and lonely. Her relationship with Curley is boring as all he does is talk about fighting. She loves him but when she was talking to Lennie in the barn she admitted to him she did not like Curley. He treats her like dirt and does not respect her.
At the end of the book she tries to overcome her loneliness by making friends with Lennie but in the end he scares her and kills her. A third lonely character on the ranch is the stable buck, Crooks. He is unlike the other farm workers as he is black. He is made to live in the barn as the other men do not think.