“A guy goes nuts if he aint got nobody. Don’t matter no difference who the guy is, long’s he’s with you. I tell ya a guy gets too lonely an’ he gets sick.” A major theme in Steinbeck’s novella Of Mice and Men is loneliness. The characters Crooks, Candy and Curley’s wife each suffer from this although the severity of their seclusion varied.
The old swapper, Candy was victimized by isolation as a result of two main factors, one being his disability and the other being his age. For example, throughout the book we find the farmhands out bucking the barley while Candy is left behind to sweep and clean the ranch. He lost his hand after getting it caught in a piece of machinery and as a result he is forced to stay behind. This being one of the major factors that leads to his loneliness. Furthermore, Candy’s age adds to his feeling of uselessness. Because he thinks that he is old he puts himself in a state of mind that handicaps him more than his missing hand ever will. He looks down on himself as an old worthless man that’s wasting away his last few years. Not only is it the way that others think of him but also the way he thinks of himself that forces him to find solitude.
The most evident case of loneliness is Curley’s wife. No matter how hard she tried she couldn’t fit in. For example, when she tried numerous times to talk to George and Lenny she was either ignored or told to leave. Because of her reputation for being a flirt none of the farmhands wanted to talk to her. It was the threat of getting in trouble with Curley that caused many workers to avoid her. In addition, because of Curley’s insecure feelings he neglected her and forced her to seek attention anyway she could, even it meant flirting. She was ignored by both the farmhands and her own husband and because of this she was being forced into loneliness, the one thing she fought so hard against.
Crooks is a black man that experiences isolation in terms of racism. For example, he is forced to live alone in the barn. Because the setting of this book takes place during the 1930’s discrimination sadly still existed. The farmhands feel that since he is black he isn’t worthy of living with the rest of them. Furthermore, his separation from others causes his severe loneliness. He spends his nights reading and his days alone in the barn working on the horses. His distance from others eventually causes his downfall. We find discrimination being the major cause of this characters loneliness. He is treated as an outcast and underling and is forced to find friendship in the only thing he can, the books he reads.
Loneliness is an inevitable fact of life that not even the strongest can avoid. Throughout the story Of Mice and Men we discover the many sources of solitude, primarily being discrimination and prejudice. Crooks, Candy, and Curley’s wife all suffer from these facts which leads them to their loneliness. As for the consequences we find that the severity of each characters loneliness varied and that the eventual effects were directly related to the magnitude of their desolation.