Of Mice And Men Theme

First published in 1937, Of Mice and Men is a classic American novel by John Steinbeck. George and Lennie are two ranch hands that travel together, with George watching over the mentally inferior Lennie. When they start work at a new ranch, several different characters are introduced. One affliction that seems to face several characters is loneliness, created by factors such as the character’s lifestyles and by social standards of the time period. Steinbeck’s theme that loneliness is unhealthy and dangerous to a person’s well being is emphasized throughout the novel.
This underlying theme is first introduced in the novel when George talks to Lennie about the advantage they have over other itinerant workers of the time. George described how other ranch hands like themselves who traveled alone had nothing to look forward to, and no one to look after them. He told Lennie how other workers would just work up a stake and blow it at a bar because they had no where else to go, no one else to look after them. George explained how Lennie and himself were different from those lonely workers when he said, “With us it ain’t like that, We got a future. We got somebody to talk to that gives a damn about us” (Steinbeck 15). Because of Lennie and George’s relationship they are able to focus on their dream of having their own farm someday, instead of falling into a routine of moving from ranch to ranch and wastefully spending their pay at the end of the month.
In addition, although Lennie is a burden, George accepts their
relationship to fight his own loneliness. As he explains to Slim, “I seen the guys that go around on the ranches alone. That ain’t no good. They don’t have no fun. After a long time they get mean. They get wantin’ to fight all the time” (45). George appreciates Lennie’s companionship because he knows that being alone can lead to a more negative outlook on life.
Candy is another character who deals with loneliness. He is the oldest man on the ranch and is crippled. The only work he can do is cleaning out the bunkhouse and other odd jobs. His only companion is his old dog who stays by his side. One night however, a fellow ranch hand named Carlson convinces Candy to let himself put the dog out of its misery. “If you want me to, I’ll put the old devil out of his misery right now and get it over with,” said Carlson in persuasion to Candy (52). Candy agreed and so his only companion was shot, leaving him sad and lonely. A few minutes later though, Candy hears Lennie and George talking about the land which they wish to purchase. Candy, overcame with loneliness and seeing no hope for the future, buys himself into a friendship by offering George money to pay for the land. “S’ pose I went in with you guys,” Candy stated, “Tha’s three hundred an’ fifty bucks I’d put in” (65). Steinbeck seems to be implying that Candy attempted to avoid his inevitable loneliness with the death of his dog, by buying in on a farm with his new found friends.
Crooks, a negro stable buck, also had to handle loneliness. Being
black, he was forbidden to stay with the other guys in the bunk house, and
was instead forced to live all alone i the barn, with only books for company. When Lennie wandered into his room, Crooks talked to Lennie about his loneliness. He described how upsetting it was to not be able to share your thoughts with another person. “A guy sets alone out here at night, maybe readin’ books or thinkin’ or stuff like that.” Crooks explained, “Sometimes he gets thinkin’, an’ he got nothin to tell him what’s so an’ what ain’t so. Maybe he sees somethin’, he don’t know whether it’s right or not. He can’t turn to some other guy an’ ask him if he sees it too. He can’t tell” (80). Crooks also tried to get Lennie to sympathize with his loneliness. “S’pose you didn’t have nobody. S’pose you couldn’t go into the bunk house and play rummy ‘cause you was black. How’d you like that? Sure you