Loneliness is one of the primary themes in Of Mice and Men. Throughout the novel, John Steinbeck shows the enormous effect that loneliness has on the characters. Steinbeck most clearly illustrates this theme through Crooks, Candy, and Curley’s wife. Ranch hands are ideal types of people to portray as being lonely, because their constant travel leaves them without someone to talk to or share things with. Steinbeck also shows how important it is for every human being to have a companion. Companionship is necessary in order for someone to live an enjoyable life.
Although loneliness affects each one of the characters in Of Mice and Men differently, they all experience negative feelings from their lack of companionship. Crooks-Loneliness has made Crook’s a very bitter and isolated person. He is truly not able to leave this situation because of his race. The other men at the ranch do not relate with Crooks unless he is working because he is black. Other than when they are working, the other men shut Crooks out off all of their activities except horseshoes. Crooks are very isolated and not welcome in leisure activities.
He has become bitter and known to lash out at people because of the loneliness that he has. Crooks’s emotions are displayed to the reader when he talks to Lennie in his room about having no one to relate to and communicate with. He exclaimed : “Maybe you can see now. You got George. You know he’s goin’ to come back. S’pose you didn’t have nobody. S’pose you couldn’t go into the bunk house and play rummy `cuase you was black… A guy needs somebody–to be near him” In a way, everyone needs someone to talk to, whether it is a friend, family member, or even a pet.
This is a source of comfort and wealth for the person. Crooks does not have any of these sources. Crooks has never been treated well by any of his co-workers because he is black. This has affected Crooks greatly. He has become bitter and has obtained a passionate animosity toward everyone. He has a certain demeanour toward everyone due to the way he is treated because of his race. In addition, Crooks also does not know how to relate and function normally anymore because of how his loneliness has effected him.
Crooks’s animosity was exemplified when Lennie comes into his room unannounced. He greets Lennie with: “Come on in and set a while… ‘Long as you won’t get out and leave me alone, you might as well set down. ” Crooks has been lonely for so long that he expects people not to talk to him. When Lennie comes in and does not have any intention of hurting him, he realizes it and he let’s his guard down. It may seem that he doesn’t desire friendships or affection, but he no longer knows how to deal with his loneliness.
It has made him into another person, one that obtains a relentless hostility toward anyone and everyone that gets close to Curleys wife -Curley’s wife’s loneliness has altered her demeanor towards others tremendously, making her overtly insecure and excessively flirtatious. Curley’s wife has become virtually another person because of loneliness. The men on the ranch avoid her because of flirtatious personality to keep out of trouble. No one understands her situation and how loneliness affects her. Her insecurity is evident by the way she dresses and utilizes her make-up.
She uses her appearance to receive attention like when “[Curley’s Wife] was standing there looking in. She had full, rouged lips and wide-spaced eyes, heavily made up. Her fingernails were red. Her hair hung in little rolled clusters, like sausages. She wore a cotton housedress and red mules, on the steps of which were little bouquets of red ostrich feathers” . Curley’s Wife feels she must dress this way for people to acknowledge her and give her attention. Her dressing-up is entirely unnecessary because they live on a farm and this is not the typical clothing.
The way she dresses/makes herself up proves her insecurity and her inability to feel good about who she really is. Curley’s Wife dresses inappropriately along with acting in flirtatious ways. This is another attempt for the attention she believes she does not get. Her coyness is obvious when she, . “.. put her hands behind her back and leaned against the door frame so that her body was thrown forward” (Steinbeck 31). Curley does not give his wife to love and affection that she desires. This makes her seek it from other people.
By not talking to anyone and constantly worrying about what Curley will do, she has attained a slyness that does not appeal to anyone on the ranch. Acting in flirtatious ways is the only way Curley’s Wife thinks she can deal with her loneliness. Candy- Candy is isolated in that after the loss of his hand he is unable to work alongside the other men and is reduced to the role of swamper. Once his dog has been shot Candy has little less to live for and is desperately lonely. He is powerless and afraid of the future. He does not go into town with the other men, and sees the inclusion in George and Lennie’s dream as the only way out.