Essay: John Steinbeck – Of Mice and Men

John Steinbeck writes loneliness of 1930s in the story, Of Mice and Men. At the time of 1930s, The Great Depression and Dust Bowl were occurred in the United States. Because of those accidents, many workers struggled to find stable jobs and workplaces. People moved around all over the United States in order to find their jobs and workplaces. Some people went around alone, and some people moved around with their family. Therefore, people can assume that the situation of 1930s is one of the causes of loneliness that people felt in that time in real life. In the story, Of Mice and Men, Steinbeck describes precisely about how workers struggle with such a situation and how they deal with their loneliness by using different types of characters.

In the beginning of the story, Steinbeck explains the idea of loneliness by setting and he claims that workers who work at ranches move around and around. He writes, ‘There is a path through the willows and among the sycamores, a path beaten hard by boys coming down from the ranches to swim in the deep pool, and beaten hard by tramps who come wearily down from the highway in the evening to jungle-up near water’ (1). This sentence means that many labors who work at ranches move around and around, and they have isolated and lonely lifestyle. Therefore, readers understand that many people struggles with the hardship of getting stable place to work, and struggle with loneliness. Also, Steinbeck writes, ‘You do if you been around these big ranches much. Guy that wants to look over a ranch comes in Sat’day afternoon. He gets Sat’day night supper an’three meals on Sunday, and he can quit Monday mornin’ after breakfast without turning his hand'(49). This sentence explains many workers come ranches just only for meal. Many workers stay one place for short time and they leave in order to find another good place to live. Therefore, setting of this story conveys readers of the idea of loneliness.

In the story, Of Mice and Men, each character feels loneliness. Even though each character’s background is very different from each other, everyone feels loneliness under the situation of 1930s. Curley’s wife, Crooks, Candy, and Lennie are the people who feel lonely and isolated from groups.

Curley’s wife is one of the characters who feel lonely. She is under control by her husband, Curley. She is not allowed to talk with other guys in the ranch, and other workers, especially, Lennie try not to talk with her in order not to get involve any trouble. This restraint makes Curley’s wife lonely. Also, her name is not mentioned in the story. Everyone in the ranch calls her as Curley’s wife. These facts show that Curley’ wife is not welcomed by workers at all and treated badly. Therefore, readers can say that workers make her lonely. In the story, Curley’s wife complains that, ‘Her face grew angry. ‘What’s the matter with me’? she cried. ‘Ain’t I got a right to talk to nobody? Whatta they think I am, anyways? You’re a nice guy. I don’t know why I can’t talk to you. I ain’t doin’ no harm to you'(87). From this sentence, readers can know that she feels frustration about the situation. When she is killed by Lennie, Steinbeck writes that, ‘

Crooks is one of the people who are lonely and isolated from groups of people. The 1930s ‘s society makes such segregation and makes him lonely. He is segregated because of the color of him. At the time of the Great Depression, black people faced tragic situation. They were pushed out from the workplaces and they were treated badly (Lee Sustar 1). As people in the ranch are racists, Crooks live alone and feel lonely. He is not able to participate in some activities, such as card game. Therefore, he often reads book for his free time. However, in fact, he wants to talk with someone. When Lennie comes to talk with him, he starts talking even Lennie does not pay much attention to his talk. Steinbeck writes, ‘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'(72). This sentence explains that Crooks is close to become sick because of loneliness and he needs someone to talk.

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