Loneliness

“The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved” (Mother Teresa). Loneliness is an easily perceivable concept in John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. It can be well understood by observing the feelings and behaviors of the characters George, Crooks, and Curly’s Wife. Primarily, constant affiliation with other people would not result in loneliness. However, in Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men a select group of characters find themselves lost in a forgotten state of uncertainty.

One person who is greatly affected by loneliness in the novel is George. Unfortunately, it becomes a greater problem as the novel progresses. "Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world” (Steinbeck 13). Although, George is consistently interacting with the other men on the ranch, he still is unable to build a strong companionship with any of the men. However, he has attained a strong companionship with Lennie over the years. Sadly, Lennie is mentally handicapped, which is an obvious reason for George’s struggle to obtain other true friends. Also, being a migrant worker, he is tenaciously moving around which withholds his ability to engage in a long-term relationship. George has also never had the chance to share intimate feelings with a woman. This is a clear foundation to his lonely state of mind. All of these unfortunate happenings have a strong emotional output on George throughout the novel. Unfortunately, his main consequence is loneliness.

Crooks is another character that gets overcome by his loneliness. He is a black man that experiences isolation because the society in which he resides is racist. He is continually discriminated against by the men on the ranch. However, Crooks still attempts to make friends; while others treat him unjust because he is different from others given that he is black. He is not allowed to participate in daily activities with the white men. Unfortunately, his social rejection on the ranch leads him into loneliness and solitude. “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 a guy gets too lonely an’ he gets sick” (Steinbeck 80). This quote reveals Crooks’s true desperation to find a friend. This is why Crooks and Lennie have such a connection; Lennie does not understand racial issues, therefore, he does not find anything wrong with associating himself with Crooks. Also, Crooks is in desperate need of someone to talk to, and this makes Lennie a great option for Crooks. He is also quite intrigued by the friendship of Lennie and George, for that is what he has been striving for. He has been longing to achieve sympathy and understanding from others. Being able to cope with all of his problems proves how truly strong of a person Crooks really is; however, his constant social rejection habitually eats away at him and his emotional stability, which brings out a side of weakness in him.

Curly’s wife is another character who possesses the same inner conflict of loneliness. She is a tease to all of the men on the ranch. She wears revealing clothing and makes use of her stunning body in attempts to gain the attention of the ranchers to help cope with her loneliness. Furthermore, her reputation as flirt causes the ranch hands to not want to talk to her. “Maybe you better go along to you own house now. We don’t want no trouble” (Steinbeck 85). Her rejection from the other men causes her to try harder, yet she can never seem to fit in. Finally, she finds a solution when she begins to talk to Lennie. She realizes how simple-minded he is and decides to take advantage of that. She expresses all of her inner feelings and discusses her daily problems with him because she can not find anyone else to share her thoughts to. Unfortunately, this encounter ends in the death of Curly’s wife. This incident could be thought of as a misfortune, but as a positive aspect as well because it brought and end to her suffering.

Loneliness is an inevitable fact of life that not even the strongest can avoid. Throughout the novel, Of Mice and Men, the reader can experience many different aspects of