“Of Mice and Men” is a skillful novel, which deals with the theme of, individuals who do not fit into the mainstream of society. The novel portrays this idea of loneliness throughout John Steinbeck's stimulating and exciting novel. There are several clearly identified themes running through the novel. The loyalty and friendship exists between two men George and Lenny. The hostile environment during the American Depression was another.
The main two themes of “Of Mice and Men” were loneliness and prejudice. Steinbeck raises questions in the mind of the reader that the novel would be based on loneliness. The first line read "A few miles south of Soledad". This is a clever idea by Steinbeck as "Soledad" means loneliness in Spanish. The title "Of Mice and Men" may be seen as a warning for the whole novel as it came from Robbie Burns's poem "To a Mouse" which translates as no matter how well be plan the future, things often go wrong. The setting of Steinbeck's novel is very important because the date when the novel took place was in 1929, around the time New York Wall Street stock market collapsed, resulting in the dollar becoming worthless. Unemployment was high at this time and men had to move around a lot looking for work, which meant they were never in one place long enough to form any relationships, so this was a very lonely existence.
Steinbeck shaped the ranch where George Milton and Lenny Small worked in as an isolated and primitive place. Steinbeck uses his personal experience as a ranch worker to describe how the working men at the ranch felt in the novel. George says that "ranch workers are the loneliest people in the world and don't belong nowhere". Steinbeck also portrays loneliness through characterization. He uses sexism, racism and ageism to get his message across.
One example of this is when George meets the old, decaying Candy and his antiquated dog, he tells him about the "black" man called Crooks. Candy stated to the inarticulate George "give the Stable Buck hell. Ya see the stable buck's a nigger".
This was typical of 1930's America as black people were thought of as inferior to white people. This suggests that Crooks was friendless. He has his "own bunk in a separate nigger room" and "he scattered personal possessions around the floor; for being alone he could leave things about". Crooks is obviously suffering from racial discrimination as he is the only black man on the ranch and is not allowed in the bunkroom with the other men because of his color. He therefore, had a very lonely existence. Steinbeck also uses Candy to portray loneliness.
The disconsolate Candy becomes lonely after his beloved dog was shot. The men in the ranch describe the dog as a "stinking hound" and an "old b******d". Candy feels dejected as he says "I wish somebody would shoot me when I become useless". This proves that Steinbeck describes Candy as lonely character.
Perhaps the loneliest character, which Steinbeck creates in the novel, is Curly's wife. She is the only female in the ranch and although she is married, you never witness the distinct.