Analyzing Themes In Of Mice And Men English Literature Essay

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In Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck displays how Lennie and George have a loyal friendship, whereas the others suffer from loneliness because they have no one. Throughout Of Mice and Men, Steinbeck keeps the theme of loneliness prevalent. However, in Lennie and George's case, it is not so. George often verbally shows that he isn't like the other guys because he has Lennie as a companion, and vice versa. All of the other guys on the ranches are unlike George and Lennie because they don't have a future or a dream to look forward to. Loneliness is a recurring theme throughout the novel, and is consequently mentioned often.

"The dream of the farm originates with Lennie, and it is only through Lennie, who also makes it impossible, that the dream has any meaning for George. An understanding of this dual relationship will do much to mitigate the frequent charge that Steinbeck's depiction of George's attachment is concocted of pure sentimentality. At the end of the novel, George's going off with Slim to "do the town" is more than an escape from grief. It is ironic and a symbolic twist to his dream." (Lisca 92)

Despite George's ritual rant about how he would carry on without Lennie, he feels no desire to pursue it after he kills Lennie at the end of the novel. With Lennie dead, the dream also dies, along with their friendship. The dream he shared with Lennie holds no meaning anymore after his death, and George assumes a sentimental role. Ironically, George drops the dream. Without Lennie, unknowingly his only friend, George has no one and therefore becomes lonely like all of the other characters with the similar trait. One character in particular shows loneliness in many ways, and that character is Crooks, the stable buck.

"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 bunkhouse and play rummy `cause you was black. How'd you like that? S'pose you had to sit out here an' read books. Sure you could play horseshoes till it got dark, but then you got to read books. Books ain't no good. A guy needs somebody to be near him." He whined, "A guy goes nuts if he ain't got nobody. Don't make no difference who the guy is, long's he's with you. I tell ya," he cried, "I tell ya a guy gets too lonely an' he gets sick." (Steinbeck 72)

Crooks has no companions, and is therefore deeply lonely. Much like Candy, he keeps to himself and holds his own. Since Crooks is isolated out in the barn, he tends to scrutinize the others, especially when it comes down to Lennie. Perhaps the most powerful example of this cruel tendency is when Crooks criticizes Lennie's dream of the farm and his dependence on George. In the novel, Crooks makes a point to Lennie that people need other people. He shows the reader the real reason why George and Lennie's friendship is so special.

"Their friendship is imposed upon George by Lennie's aunt, and it frequently irritates George since Lennie has always got them both into trouble in the past. George has no obscure desire to be ruined. The psychology of the friendship is presented with deft sufficient outline by Steinbeck." (Dacus 81)

Alongside Loneliness, another theme Steinbeck introduces to the novel is friendship. Steinbeck has George act as Lennie's caretaker, and even a parent in many cases, which brings friendship into the mix of themes Steinbeck has added into the novel. Without George, Lennie wouldn't survive on his own. Knowing this, Lennie's Aunt Clara entrusted George to watch over her nephew. Though Lennie causes a lot of trouble for the two, George is true to the friendship they have developed and keeps Lennie with him as he travels. The unique friendship between George and Lennie is in many ways iconic. Much like Huck Finn and Jim, George and Lennie share a strange friendship and are often questioned about it by nearly every character in the book, such as the Boss, Slim, and Crooks. As an ultimate act of friendship between the two, George "saves" Lennie from a more cruel demise at the hands of the mob led by Curley. It is ironic, but it is the nicest thing George could have ever done for Lennie. For George, the hope of such a companionship dies with Lennie, and true to his original estimation, he will go through life alone. Without Lennie as a burden, George could easily live a life off somewhere else and not have to bother with working for someone else time after time. However, he chooses to stay with Lennie and work towards the dream farm they both want to achieve so badly. George is protective of Lennie, even though he knows that Lennie is capable of physically crushing a man, as he displayed when he crushed Curley's hand within his own. However, when Lennie kills Curley's wife at the end of the novel, George knows that he can't always protect Lennie and he won't always be around to fix the problems Lennie causes. So instead, he decides to end it in an ultimate act of protection/friendship and he brings Lennie's life to an end.

"All the guys got a horseshoe tenement goin' on. It's on'y about four o'clock. None of them guys is goin' to leave the tenement. Why can't I talk to you? I never get to talk to nobody. I get awful lonely." (Steinbeck 86)

Commitment and loyalty also plays a major role in Of Mice and Men, primarily when it comes down to the marriage between Curley and his wife. Curley's wife confides in Lennie that she is lonely, despite the fact that she is married to Curley. She displays no loyalty to her husband, and obviously no commitment. Since she has no one, she seeks out for the company of others, and her interest unfortunately falls upon Lennie. Each character in the story desires the comfort of a friend, but will settle for the attentive ear of a stranger, with the exception of a few. Her insistence on flirting with Lennie seals her unfortunate fate. Her relationship with Curley is a poor one. He ignores her almost completely, except for sex. She is also lonely because she is the only woman on the ranch. Curley's wife admits to Crooks and the others that she is unhappily married. When she goes to Crook's room on Saturday night, Curley is at Susie's place, and they had only been married for two weeks. Aside from Curley's wife, commitment also plays a positive role in the novel.

"Candy, the one-handed swamper, and Crooks, the deformed black stablehand, also sense the unique commitment between the two laborers, and in their moment of unity, Candy and Crooks turn as one to defend Lennie from the threat posed by Curley's wife." (Watt 38)

George and Lennie are strongly committed to each other, more so Lennie than George. When Curley's wife corners Lennie, Crooks and Candy come to his defense, seeing how Lennie is incapable of defending himself and George was not around to take the initiative to defend Lennie. It is ironic how the three loneliest characters quarrel amongst one another, two displaying commitment to both George and Lennie, and one with no real knowledge of what true commitment is.

In conclusion, Steinbeck shows loneliness, friendship, and commitment and loyalty throughout his novel Of Mice and Men through his cast of characters. Each character individually harbors loneliness, and nearly all of the characters, including George, Lennie, Candy, Crooks, and Curley's wife, admit, at one time or another, to having a profound sense of loneliness and isolation. The characters are rendered helpless by their isolation, and yet, even at their weakest, they seek to destroy those who are even weaker then they.