The Themes of Loneliness and Friendship in Of Mice and Men, a Novella by John Steinbeck

‘Of Mice and Men,‘ by John Steinbeck, deals with the universal themes of loneliness and friendship, which is a serious aspect of life. The novel is set during the Great Depression in California in the 1930’s We follow the story of two itinerant workers, George Milton and Lennie Small, who share an unusual friendship. As they move from one farm to another, struggling to get together a small ‘stake‘, the reader sees the hopelessness of theirr lives, and the terrible impact of isolation. George and Lennie dream of having their own piece of land, and with it, independence annd freedom » the original American Dream. However, the unlikely pair are faced with too many difficulties and never achieve their dream. In the opening chapter, we are introduced to the characters George and Lennie, and with them the theme of friendship.

George is shown to be a caring, kind person, however his patience is tested constantly be Lennie’s constant problemst Although George gets frustrated with Lennie, he is understanding of the problems Lennie haas, and shows compasion towards him. His can be backed up countless times, however the quote “I got you to look after me an’ you got me to look after you” is paniculary strong because it sums up the friendship Lennie and George share together. This quotation, along with others that convey the same meaning, are constantly said throughout the novel, reinforcing the idea of friendship Stienbeck repeatedly shows us how difficult it was for itinerant workers to finnd secure work in 1930’s California, with the underlying fact of how lonely they got, leading such solitary lives.

Itinerant workers in the 1930’s would be constantly on the move, and as such, their accomodation, bleak bunkhouses with few personal belongings, reflected this. The quote, “Against the wall were eight bunks, five of them made up with blankets and the other three showing their burlap ticking,” shows this to great effect, really helping to empathsise how the hoses of the ranch were always waiting for the next workers to arrive, and as such, shows how the ranch workers who leave on their own, to arrive at the next ranch on their own, and then eventually leave for the next ranch, The friendship George andd Lennie share is important to both of them – for George, it is the companionship that Lennie gives him, » for Lennie, it is the protection that George provides, in that George doesn’t let Lennie be taken advantage of.

We know George cares for Lennie a great deal, because of the fact that he let Lennie “just come along” when he was working. He didn’t tell him to get lost like some of the other ranch workers would’ve » instead he took him under his wing and helped him. In the novel, Lennie is shown to be very childlike and simple—minded, His statement is supported strongly be the quote, “I like ’em with ketchup.” This simple quotation shows how Lennie thinks that although George has repeated serveral times that they ”aint got no ketchup,” Lennie can only think about eating ketchup. Even though his mind thinks in this way, lennie is capable of great friendship, providing George with companionship, something the other men don’t understand, In Chapter, Carlson is insistant that Candy’s dog, his only friend, be shot. Carlson seems to be a very cold-hearted man, one who is not only isolated from the friendship of other men, but who doesn’t recognise and respect friendships other people may have, and sets out to eradicate that friendship.

This is shown by the quote, “Tell you what. I’ll shoot him for you.” This really empathsises how a lack of friendship makes people cold-hearted, which John Stienbeck is trying to say thoughout the novel, Throughout the novel, Curley’s wife is seen to be, up until the final chapter, a woman intent on making troubkle for peopel, one who constantly tries to flirt with men, and one who revels in seeing people get hurt because of her, The quote, “She’s a jait bait,” sums up exactly what the other men think of her, which is someone best to avoid. In Chapter 5 however, she opens up, telling Lennie how lonely she is, how her life is boring, and how better her life could have been if she hadn‘t married Curley.

Her predicament isn’t totally understood by Lennie, however she is glad to be able to talk to someone This portrays, not the image the other men have of her, but an image of someone who just wants a nice life where she can do what she wants without fear of accusations In the final chapter, George performs the ultimate act of friendship – killing Lennie. After discovering Lennie’s act of murder, with Curley leading a group haying for blood, he decides he has to kill Lennie. We know that Curley won’t settle on having Lennie placeed in a mental hospital, the quote, “I’m gonna get him I’ll kill the big son-of-a-bitch myself,” conveys this fact clearly.

The act of killing Lennie, which George did, was done in the knowledge that Curley would have done no mercy on Lennier This illuminates the fact that anything george did to Lennie would be far kinder than anything Curley would do, In conclusion, ‘Of Mice and Men,‘ by John Steinbeck, is a novel which deals with a serious aspect of life. The themes of friendship and loneliness ae effectively portrayed throughout the novel, helping to empathsise its importance to the novel as a whole The sucessful use of characters to empathsise this is particulary good, and helps to give the novel a sense of realism and relativity to human life.

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