Of Mice and Men

Nov. 27, 2002

by John Steinbeck

In “Of Mice and Men,” John Steinbeck tries to show us how people had o live a life of solitude and loneliness, just so they could earn some money every month.

The theme that the author is trying to portray is loneliness. “Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world...” (OMAM pg. 13) That in the 1930’s few people had families and a permanent house. Lots of men were migrant workers because they were uneducated. Once they finished a job, they would pack their bindles and set out alone. They never had true friends, but George and Lennie were exceptions in some ways. Deep down George longed for someone other that Lennie to talk with. Then he found Slim.

Another theme is racism. Back then if you weren’t white and American you were not an equal. They treated Crooks like dirt because he was an African-American. They also mocked Chinese people. Everybody was too narrow minded to think otherwise. Lennie accepted Crooks though. “ ‘Well what do you want?’ ‘Nothing-I seen your light. I thought I could jus’ come in an’ set.’ ” (OMAM pg. 68)

Lennie is a man who has the mind of a child. He must go through life being teased and treated like an outsider, but he doesn’t realize it. He is discriminated against because of his mental illness. Lennie is a lonely man. He is nice to everybody and doesn’t mean to cause any harm. The only person who truly accepts him George and maybe Slim. That is why Lennie likes animals. they are friendly and you can pet them and play with them.

George is a short man with small features. He too is lonely. His only friend is Lennie, and he barely listens because she has a short attention span. “ ‘Sometimes he talks, and you don’t know what the hell he’s talkin’ about. Ain’t that so?’... ‘Yeah,...sometimes.’ ” (OMAM pg. 70) He is lonely because when he’s with Lennie it’s almost like baby-sitting. He must always keep an eye on Lennie.

Since they got to the ranch George is becoming once with Slim. He started to fill in that void inside. Then he was forced into killing Lennie. It destroyed him emotionally. The loneliness come back two times more powerful than before.

Curley’s wife is unhappy and she tries to hide it by being over-friendly with the men on the ranch. She only admits it towards the end of the novel that she is lonely and dislikes her life. She also tells Lennie that she doesn’t love or even like Curley. “ ‘I don’ like Curley. He ain’t a nice fella.’ ” (OMAM pg. 89)

Candy is an old swamper who lost his hand in a farming incident. The only possession that he had that made him truly happy was his dog, and Carlson killed it because it was old. After that he only felt like he belonged when George told him that he could be part owner in the farm that they were going to buy.

Crooks is probably the loneliest person on the ranch. He is the only African-American and he is treated like a leper. “ ‘There wasn’t another colored family for miles around. And now there ain’t a colored man on this ranch an’ there’s jus’ one family in Soledad.’ ” (OMAM pg. 70) All because of his skin color. He is left alone in a room in the barn. No one talks to him or treats him equally except for Slim and Lennie.

At the beginning of the novel Lennie and George are going to spend the night on the riverbank of the Salinas River. They will head off to work the following day. “ ‘No reason at all for you. I like it here. Tomorra we’re gonna go to work. ... Tonight I’m gonna lay right here and look up. I like it.’ ” (OMAM pg. 8)

When they arrive at the ranch George tells Lennie not to talk. The boss got suspicious about Lennie and started asking questions. George made up a story to cover up for Lennie’s mental illness. “ George said, ‘He’s my ... cousin. I told his old lady I’d take care of