Main Theme in John Steinbeck’s Novel of Mice
In John Steinbeck’s novel Of Mice and Men George and Lennie work at a ranch in California. They work there for a couple of weeks until Lennie accidentally kills Curley’s Wife. George then finds Lennie and kills him. Some of the characters on the ranch symbolizes loneliness. Steinbeck symbolizes loneliness through Candy, Crooks, George, and Curley’s Wife.
Candy represents loneliness through his missing hand and old dog. Candy’s hand represents an old soulmate that is now gone. Candy’s dog represents also represents an old wife that has died. Crooks represents loneliness in a few ways. He has a broken back, single barrel shotgun, and by being the only slave on the ranch.
How it works
Crooks’s broken back represents a broken life. “His body was bent over to the left by his crooked spine.” (Steinbeck 66-67). This proves that he has a broken spine. ” Crooks leaned forward over the edge of the bunk. ‘I ain’t a southern negro,’ he said. ‘ i was born right here in California. My old man had a chicken ranch, ’bout ten acres. The white kids come to play at our place, an’ sometimes I went to play with them, and some of them was pretty nice. My ol’ man didn’t like that. I never knew till long later why he didn’t like that. But I know now.’
He hesitated, and now there ain’t a colored man on this ranch an’ there’s jus’ one family in Soledad.’ He laughed. ‘If I say something, why it’s just a nigger sayin’ it.'” (Steinbeck 70) This proves that Crooks’s life was broken because his father sold him to slavery. His single barrel shotgun shows that he is alone. “Crooks possessed several pairs of shoes, a pair of rubber boots, a big alarm clock, and a single-barreled shotgun.” (Steinbeck 67).
He shows loneliness by being the only slave on the ranch. “And scattered on the floor were a number of personal possessions; for, being alone, Crooks could leave his things about , and being a stable buck and a cripple, he was more permanent than the other men, and he accumulated more possessions than he could carry on his back.” (Steinbeck 66-67). “Crooks, the negro stable buck, had his bunk in the harness room; a little shed that leaned off the wall of the barn.” (Steinbeck 67). These quotes prove that Crooks lived alone and that he was the only slave on the ranch.
George is another character that shows loneliness. George thinks that he has to stay with Lennie instead of someone, this else shows loneliness because he can’t have any other friends outside of work. George is always having to go from ranch to ranch because of Lennie shows loneliness because he can’t keep friends long. George has no friends other than Lennie.
Curley’s wife symbolizes loneliness by not having a name. In Of Mice and Men she is just referred to as “Curley’s Wife.” “George said, ‘She’s gonna make a mess. They’s gonna be a bad mess about her. She’s a jail bait all on the trigger. That Curley got his work cut out for him. Ranch with a bunch of guys on it, ain’t no place for a girl, specially like her.'” (Steinbeck 51). This proves that the people on the ranch don’t think she deserves a name. This fact proves that Curley’s wife symbolizes loneliness. Curley’s wife isn’t allowed to talk to anyone. “‘I get lonely,’ she said. ‘You can talk to people, but I can’t talk to anybody but Curley. Else he gets mad. How’d you like not to talk to anybody?'” (Steinbeck 87). This makes her lonely because she has to always be alone.
Curley’s wife is never seen with Curley they are always looking for each other. “Curley bursts into the room excitedly. ‘Any you guys seen my wife?'” (Steinbeck 53). “‘I’m lookin’ for Curley,’ she said.” (Steinbeck 31). These quotes prove Curley’s Wife is never with Curley and since she is never with Curley and not allowed to talk to anyone she is stuck up in their house all day everyday alone.
These are the reasons why Curley’s Wife, George, Crooks, and Candy show loneliness. Steinbeck showed loneliness in the characters because the thirties were a lonely time. Most of the people that owned farms had to sell them and find other work to live. Anyone who still wanted to farm or ranch had to move where there was a farm that was running and had a job opening. In conclusion, the farmers and ranchers weren’t able to sit down and live because the jobs were not secure or given. Which caused loneliness.