Mice and Men - Essay 19
terms of emotional stability, there is only one thing in life that
is really needed and that is friends. Without friends, people would
suffer from loneliness and solitude. Loneliness leads to low self-esteem
and deprivation. In the novel, Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck,
the characters, Crooks, Candy, and Curly’s wife all exhibit some
form of loneliness. They are driven towards the curiosity of George
and Lennie’s friendship because they do not have that support in
their life. Through his novel, Of Mice and Men, Steinbeck demonstrates
that often times, a victim of isolation will have a never-ending
search to fulfill a friendship.
"A guy goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody. Don’t matter no difference
who the guy is, longs he with you. I tell ya a guy gets too lonely
an he gets sick" (Steinbeck, 13)
Crooks is a black man that experiences isolation because the society
in which he resides is racist. As a result, the previous quote was
his means of finding a personal connection to Lennie. Like Lennie,
Crooks has a ‘relationship’ with loneliness. He knows that when
people get lonely, they tend to get sick. Studies show that people
who suffer from loneliness have higher incidence of health problems.
This can be determined based on his emotional behavior. "A 1998
study showed that 50 percent of patients with heart disease who
reported feeling very isolated were not married and had no one in
whole they could communicate with, died within five years." (ub-counseling.buffalo.edu)
At the rate Crooks is headed, he will probably die in a short period
of time. Gerontology stated "seniors, who attend church at least
weekly, live longer than those who don’t." By attending church,
the attendees maintain a relationship with god and have the ability
to relieve themselves of loneliness. They can deal with their severe
problem of loneliness through attending church or other social events
and in turn, live longer. Crooks is rejected from every group of
people and cannot socially interact with others.
"Loneliness can result from rejection…" (Couns.uiuc.edu/loneline.htm)
Although discrimination is still present during the time period
of the book (early 20th century), Crooks still attempts to make
friends. Others treat Crooks unjust because he is different from
others given that he is black. He does not know how to treat others
because of the way others treat him; with disrespect. Furthermore,
he does not know how to vent his frustration and as a result, lashes
out at others because they are cruel to him. Crooks is not allowed
to participate in daily events with white people. He is treated
unfairly and therefore acts the same way toward the white people
(the ones who offended him.)
"Cause I’m black. They play cards in there, but I can’t play because
I’m Black. They say I stink. Well I tell you, you all stink to me!"
Nobody likes to be forced to live in a barn, let alone to work only
with the horses. Crooks spent most of his nights reading and he
keeps away from others because of the way he is treated and this
eventually leads to his very own emotional downfall. He is treated
as an outcast and is forced to find friendship the only way he can,
through the books that he reads. The Counseling Center of the University
of Buffalo said that: "When you are alone, use the time to enjoy
yourself. For example, listen to music or watch a favorite television
show. Do not spend the time eating endlessly or worrying about your
problems." (Karlene Robinson, www.ub-counseling.buffalo.edu) Obviously
Crooks is aware of his problem and tries to cope with it through
books and magazines.
Crooks is fascinated by the strength of the friendship of Lennie
and George, especially how close they are. Crooks said, "Well, s’pose,
jus’ s’pose he don’t come back. What’ll you do then?" (Steinbeck,
79) Crooks asks these questions because he does not have any friends.
He was curious about the friendship of Lennie and George. He wants
the people to feel the way that he did when he was lonely, having
nobody with them. He is striving to achieve sympathy and understanding
from others. Crooks would work for nothing if it meant communicating
with others. Crooks offers his services to clear out his problems
"…If you…guys would want a hand to work for nothing – just his keep,
why I’d come an’ lend a hand. I ain’t so cippled I can’t work like
a son-of-a-bitch if I want to." (Steinbeck, 84) This quote supports
that he is attracted to the friendship of Lennie and George. It
also proves that all Crooks wants to do was talk to people, and
he will do anything for it, even work like a "son-of-a-bitch."
Candy, an old, physically disabled swamper, has worked on the ranch
practically his whole life. When Candy was on the ranch, he got
into an accident that cost him a physical handicap. Farm machinery
took away his hand, leaving him money and loneliness. The Counseling
Center of the University of Buffalo said that loneliness means to
also feel: "excluded from a group or a result of a tragedy". As
a result of Candy’s age and disability he has a feeling of uselessness.
Since Candy feels that he is old, he places himself in a state of
mind that handicaps him more than his missing hand ever will. He
looks down on himself as an old worthless man wasting away his last
few years. He is often afraid of losing his work, not to mention
is whole life.
"I got hurt four years ago. They’ll can me purty soon. Jus’ as soon
as I can’t swamp out no bunk houses they’ll put me on the county."
Candy is so down that he puts himself into a state of solitude.
He is often allowed to go out with the other guys, but he always
refuses due to his negative aspect towards himself. Candy thinks
that nobody wants to be friends with him because of his disability.
Eventually, he tries to find a friendship by attempting to join
the dream of George and Lennie, to own and run their own little
ranch. This is one of Candy’s desperate attempts to find a place
in society and meaning in life. Candy offered his services to become
a part of George and Lennie’s friendship and dream.
"I’ll wash dishes an’ little chick stuff like that. But I’ll be
on your own place, an’ I’ll be let to work on our own place." (Steinbeck,
Candy was attempting to overcome his loneliness and regain a positive
outlook by seeking out situations that enable him to get involved
with other ranchers. It is quite possible that he was sad and lonely
because he was in search of the right person to be friends with.
After Candy lost his dog, he felt much more lonely than he was before.
The dog was something that Candy had owned and confided with within
his years. He felt worthless because now he didn’t own a single
important thing. Candy and his dog had the same relationship that
George and Lennie had shared for so many years. While Lennie had
George and the ranchers had each other, Candy did not have anybody
and this put him in a condition of sorrow and depression. Every
character in the book is different and no protagonists act alike.
Nobody in the book shared the same interests and/or dreams as Candy
did. This is why he tried so hard to gain the attention and friendship
of Lennie and George. He offers everything that he had to support
the friendship including money, but money will never buy genuine
friendship. "Maybe if I give you money, you’ll let me how in the
garden even after I ain’t no good at it." (Steinbeck, 66) All of
these characters are alike because, not only were they affected
by loneliness, they were always in search for ways to solve these
dilemmas. Another character who possesses the same inner conflict
of loneliness is Curley’s wife.
Curley’s wife is a tease to everybody on the ranch. She will dress
and act sort of like a "whore". She makes use of her stunning body
to gain the attention of the ranchers to sooth her loneliness. These
acts give her a sense of relief and made her feel wanted so she
can share her personal concerns and experiences. Because of her
reputation for being a flirt, none of the farmhands wants to talk
to her, but no matter how hard she tries, she can never fit in.
Curley’s, insecure feelings towards his wife, forces her into flirting
with the other ranchers. Curley’s wife also dressed rather "slutty"
and fairly bare. One sign of loneliness is when "You become overly
critical of your physical appearance." (www.ub-counseling.buffalo.edu)
Many people do not want to talk to her because of her reputation
for being a flirt and bothering others.
"Maybe you better go along to you own house now. We don’t want no
trouble." (Steinbeck, 85)
Curley’s wife notices how simple-minded Lennie is and takes advantage
of that situation. She knows that he would be the only one where
she could discuss her problems that she deals with everyday. Loneliness
is caused when "you feel there’s no one in your life with whom you
can share your feelings and experiences." (Www.cound.uiuc.edu/loneline.htm)
One problem that Curley’s wife was unaware of, was Lennie’s curiosity
and interest in soft objects. When Curley’s wife was done explaining
her problems to somebody that could care less about them, she asked
him to stroke her hair. But when she began to yell at Lennie, he
just pulled her hair tighter. This leads to the death of Curly’s
wife and now she will not have to worry about being lonely ever
again. This could be thought of as a misfortune, but as a positive
aspect as well because it ended her suffering. Curly’s wife’s case
of loneliness was the most severe throughout the novel. She struggled
in her society to find somebody that she could consult with. She
tried and would do anything imaginable to dispatch her one psychological
Loneliness is an inevitable fact of life that not even the strongest
can avoid. Throughout the story, Of Mice and Men, the reader discovers
the many sources of solitude, primarily being discrimination and
prejudice. Crooks, Candy and Curley’s wife all suffer the previous
injustices resulting in loneliness and isolation. They learn to
cope with their loneliness through their interest in Lennie and
George’s friendship. In some ways they are even envious of the bond.
Often times, a victim of isolation will have a never-ending strive
to fulfill a friendship.
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