CowanHonorsEnglish 11-229January 2018TheShadow of Loneliness Lonelinessis dark shadow of isolation from friends or company. It is a causefor people to become depressed and to become involved in arelationship. During the Great Depression in the United States,people lost their lives’ savings, and their properties. After theDust Bowl decimated most of the farmland in the central UnitedStates, many young farmers became migrant workers, like the maincharacters in OfMice and Men. Migrant workers are workers who travel around the countrysidesearching for jobs to earn a salary. Due to the constant movement ofthese migrant workers, they do not have the opportunity to settledown and develop acculturation with the local community. This makesa migrant worker become lonely. In John Steinbeck’s novel, OfMice and Men, lonelinessis portrayed as people who have lost security and hope as shown inCandy, Crooks, and Curley’s wife.
WhenGeorge Milton and Lennie Small first arrive at the ranch, Candygreets them, shows them their bunks, and guides them to the boss. Candy is an old ranch-hand who lost his hand in an accident. Candyis lonely because his lost hand causes him to be unable to work withthe rest of the other men. He has no living relatives and his lastcompanion was his pet dog. After Carlson shot Candy’s dog, Candytells George, “You seen what they done to my dog tonight? Theysays he wasn’t no good to himself nor nobody else. When they canme here I wisht somebody’d shoot me…” (Steinbeck 59). OnceCandy’s dog has been shot by Carlson, Candy has nothing else tolive for.
Candy is desperately isolated and is afraid of his future. He offers George and Lennie 350 dollars to let him work on theirdream farm. This shows that Candy is willing to do nearly anythingto live the rest of his life in happiness. Crooksis the ranch’s stable buck. His back is crooked because a horsekicked him in the back when he was younger. He is lonely because heis separated from the other workers by his disability, his race, andhis mistrust of others.
In the story, Crooks has his own bunk in thebarn because he is black. Like Candy, Crooks’ disability limitshis contact with the rest of the ranch workers. Crooks is so lonelythat he has magazines to entertain himself because he is not allowedto go to town since he is black. He acquiesce when Lennie tries tocommunicate with him due to his loneliness. In chapter 4, Crooks’tells Lennie that “a guy gets too lonely an’ he gets sick”(Steinbeck 71). Crooks’ has read books and magazines to the pointthat he is sick of reading those books and being isolated.
Crooksrepresents how black people were treated like in the United Statesduring the Great Depression. After Curley’s wife threatens tolynch Crooks, he decides not to be part of George and Lennie’sdream. His suspicions and fears about how he would be treated byothers returns and he can no longer look pass the prejudice he hasexperienced. InOfMice and Men,George tells Lennie to avoid Curley’s wife because she is trouble. In reality she is just desperately lonely.
Curley’swifeis the only women living on the ranch. She has no one to talk too. Even Curley does not talk to her. She is lonely because of hersexuality. Her flirtatious attitude causes the other men on theranch that she is a tramp. Curley’s wife angrily asks Lennie”Wha’s the matter with me? Ain’t I got a right to talk tonobody?”(Steinbeck 85). Curley’s wife has become desperate tocommunicate with someone else than Curley.
This need to talk tosomeone causes her death because she lets Lennie touch her hair. Steinbeckuses his novel OfMice and Men toillustrate to the reader how loneliness can affect a person. AsCrooks has found out, books cannot replace human companions. Peopleneed company to help give their lives a meaning. Otherwise they couldbecome mean and desperate, like what George tells Lennie aboutmigrant workers like them. Crooks and Curley’s wife are primeexamples chosen by Steinbeck to illustrate discrimination in theGreat Depression.