Saturday, September 14, 2019

‘Of Mice and Men’ †The Theme Of Lonelyness Essay

Many of the characters in ‘Of Mice and Men’ are lonely. They experience loneliness and seek comfort in many different ways. Loneliness is defined as the unhappiness that is felt by someone because they do not have any friends or do not have anyone to talk to. People deal with loneliness in many ways. Introverts form a barrier and keep people away. They want to be isolated from others and keep to themselves. They have neither roots nor friends. Introverts usually keep quiet and draw in on themselves. However, extroverts are the opposite. They seek attention and react to their environment by being aggressive or are overwhelmed with emotions. Loneliness is a major theme in ‘Of Mice and Men’; George and Lennie manage to avert it by their relationship; it embitters Candy and Crooks and it kills Curley’s wife. Steinbeck sees loneliness as a part of the human condition, something we are born with, and something we either fight or endure for the rest of our lives. Soledad, ‘Our Lady of Loneliness’ is not a nurturing environment. It is a place where everybody is isolated because there is a lack of trust and friendship. The Great Depression of 1929 led to this because in many states of America there was unemployment, a lack of money and no relief offered to jobless men and women. Without work, many people lost their self-respect; others continually struggled to find work, often travelling thousands of miles across America, leaving homes and families behind them. They were known as itinerant workers. In the country things were almost worse than they were in the cities; farmers were being driven off their land, there had been a series of droughts which had ruined the crops and dried up the soil and farmers could not afford to re-pay the bank loans which helped them to buy their farms in the first place. Men used to move from ranch to ranch trying to look for work to earn a living and because of this, it was hard for them to make friends. Some who realise that they are lonely seek comfort in many ways such as having a ream or reading books like Crooks does. Others who are lonely, like Curley do not seek comfort because they are not aware of it. During that time, many of the Americans sought comfort by having the American dream; which was to own a piece of land however big it was and to earn money from it. One of the characters who experiences loneliness and seeks comfort by having a dream is George. He does not experience it as much as the other characters on the ranch as he has a companion, someone who he can befriend. George looks after Lennie and acts like a parent figure. An example of this is when Lennie drinks â€Å"from the surface of the green pool.† George is always looking out for him to protect him from danger. â€Å"‘Lennie!’ he said sharply. ‘Lennie, for God’s sake don’t drink so much.† George has to take care of Lennie, even though he knows that Lennie has a disability, he continues to teach him about what is right and wrong. However, George does suffer loneliness as he is often seen playing solitaire in the bunkhouse alone. George may be lonely because he cannot have intellectual conversations in his relationship with Lennie. Therefore, he often goes to the whorehouse with the other men on the ranch. Although George is more likely to be lonely than Lennie, they share true companionship. They are able to trust each other and are together as one. They are two completely different characters yet they are so close. George is like a parent figure who is â€Å"small and quick† and Lennie the complete opposite; someone who is â€Å"large.† The men on the ranch see it as a surprise to see the two of them together; they cannot understand the relationship that these two share as the have never had it themselves and do not understand that they themselves are lonely. Slim admires George and Lennie’s relationship because he understands that people do need friends. â€Å"He ain’t mean,† said Slim. â€Å"I can tell a mean guy a mile off.† His wise nature helps him to understand Lennie and the situation George is in. Although at first Candy does not understand George and Lennie’s relationship, he begins to understand it when he loses his dog. However, Carlson nor Curley do not understand their relationship, as they are not aware that it exists themselves. Those who do realise seek comfort. George and Lennie both share a dream together. â€Å"Some day- we’re gonna get the jack together and we’re gonna have a little house and a couple of acres an’ a cow and some pigs-â€Å" â€Å"An’ live off the fatta the lan.† The dream gives them something to live for; without each other, the dream is worthless. Later in the novel when Lennie is shot George does not want to continue with the dream because he knows that it cannot happen, as Lennie is not there anymore. George tries to seek his comfort by talking to Slim and telling him how he feels. He is able to do this, as Slim understands what he is going through. The dream he shares with Lennie also helps him to seek comfort; this makes him feel closer to Lennie as they are sharing it. George knows that the dream is unattainable yet he still keeps hold onto it. â€Å"I’m stayin’ right here. I don’t want to get mixed up in nothing. Lennie and me got to make a stake.† This suggests that George needs Lennie’s hospitality and without him, the dream is nothing whatsoever. Lennie seeks comfort by petting small animals. He has a need for physical contact, usually with small animals. This makes him unable to control this need to display warmth and he is unable to see the consequences even though he â€Å"were sick the previous night.† Being able to learn from the past is one of his dangerous failings and it seems to catch up with him wherever he goes. Lennie is not lonely because he has George. Without George, Lennie would not be able to survive because he constantly needs to be taken care of. Another reason why Lennie might not be lonely is that he does not know what loneliness is, therefore he does not realise that people on the ranch are lonely, he just knows that he does not like it on the ranch. â€Å"Le’s go, George. Le’s get outa here. It’s mean here.† This suggests that Lennie has some sense of danger; even though he does not know what it is, therefore he feels uncomfortable, scared, and insecure. Another character that is also insecure is Crooks; he is lonely because the other men on the ranch do not mix with him as he is black, a â€Å"Negro,† and has also injured his back. Even though he did have part of the dream when he was younger; he has now lost it and misses it. The fact that he did have the dream and has now lost it makes it even more distressing for him because usually if you have not had something you do not miss it. However, if you do have it and then you lose it, you become intense, insecure, and scared to communicate with others because you might be afraid that you may lose your individuality. There is racial prejudice in Soledad, which makes Crooks isolated therefore, he is aware that no one likes him and feels ostracised from the bunkhouse. Crooks is â€Å"proud† and â€Å"aloof† because he has learnt to be this way this due to the years of constant abuse therefore, he suffers alone in silence by reading â€Å"a mauled copy of the California Civil code for 1905†. This suggests that he is literate, independent, and knowledgeable as his purpose is to educate himself and is very aware of his rights. As Crooks is lonely, it has a negative effect on his behaviour as he becomes aggressive with anyone who comes into his bunkhouse and he does not like to communicate with others. He is more of a reserved character who gets angry and is emotional. He says â€Å"You got no right to come in my room† because he is not used to visitors as he is isolated from others and has no clue what George’s friendship means to Lennie when he tells Lennie that George is not going to come back. His anger and pride get the better of him on this occasion; he uses it as a defence against the harsh treatment he receives from the people on the ranch. Crooks tries to seek comfort from the loneliness he has; he does this by talking to Candy and Lennie about the past and his feelings even though he knew that Lennie is not listening to what he is trying to say. This made Crooks relieve the emotions he had drawn into himself. At first, he is â€Å"aloof† but gradually realises that Lennie is not a threat because his manner is open and not prejudice. He reveals about his childhood when he played with white kids and was unaware of prejudice. He happens to realise that the value of communicating is important and taunts Lennie with the idea that George might not return for him because he seems to get pleasure in Lennie feeling the loneliness he feels. Crooks happens to know â€Å"It’s just bein’ with another guy. That’s all † that counts. He causes torture and knows that Lennie is understanding about him being lonely because â€Å"Crooks’ face lighted with pleasure in his torture† and when â€Å"a guy gets too lonely, he gets sick.† He knows this because he has had the love and affection from his childhood and has experienced the American dream; the same dream George and Lennie want to achieve. â€Å"I remember when I was a little kid on my old man’s chicken ranch. Had two brothers. They was always near me, always there.† Crooks remembers a happy childhood with the companionship of his brothers. He becomes friendly with Lennie because he knows that Lennie wants the dream as much as he does and he also knows that â€Å"never a god-damn one of ’em ever gets it† because it is unattainable. Curley’s wife is another lonely character in â€Å"Of Mice and Men.† She presents herself as a tart because of the intense loneliness she experiences. She seems to always want to get attention from the other men however this does not happen the way she wants it to because everyone she approaches rejects her. She is treated like a possession by Curley and is not expected to have her own personality. Although the other people on the ranch do notice her, they do not communicate with her for fear of Curley’s anger. It is sad that she cannot communicate with the men and that there are no women on the ranch for her to befriend. She is vulnerable and a miserable, immature women who is desperate for love and companionship. The reason why she is so miserable is that she did not have enough confidence to trust her mother. She was brought up in the atmosphere of violence and this is what has made her personality, which is an extrovert, who seeks attention from others; but truly inside from the heart she is quite pleasant woman whose personality was not yet discovered by the men on the ranch until she was dead. Curley’s wife wears â€Å"her fingernails red† and â€Å"she has a little bouquet of ostrich feathers in the insteps of her mules.† Not only this but she also provokes attention by â€Å"thrusting her body forward† in the doorway when George and Lennie are introduced. Her â€Å"full rouged lips and wide spaced eyes, heavily made up† shows that she is always seeking attention, and is very flirtatious. The way she moved, â€Å"so that her body was thrown forward† shows she is provocative even with strangers, such as George and Lennie. At first she is portrayed as a tart because she is described as a girl â€Å"who had full, rouged lips† and â€Å"her fingernails were red†; this suggests that she is presented as a tart as red is symbolic for danger and passion; but a the novel develops we begin to understand why she behaves in a flirty way. We are able to see what she is really like inside and if she had more confidence and trust in her then maybe she could have been a different person. She â€Å"coulda been in the movies, an’ had nice clothes. all of them nice clothes to wear† and she â€Å"coulda sat in them big hotels, an’ had pitchers’ taken† of herself. However, her dream could not have been achieved because the man who promised her all this never wrote back. She wants to overcome her loneliness by being in the movies and wants to have some friends to befriend. Curley’s wife is lonely because of her actions. They have led to her being lonely and desperate for affection and comradeship. She has a different image to how the men perceive her. She wants recognition by others to show them that she is not a tart and she can be a friendly person. She shows her vulnerability and humanity by considering Lennie by trying to tell him how she feels. Curley’s wife tells Lennie her secret because she knows that Lennie will not say anything and even though he does not understand what she is trying to say, he is able to just listen to what she says. Candy is totally opposite to Curley’s wife as she is an extrovert and he is an introvert. Candy is lonely not only because he has lost his dog but his dream has also been shattered. Candy was very proud of his dog and it is a shame that they were parted; as together, their companionship was strong. Candy said â€Å"you wouldn’t think it to look at him now, but he was the best damn sheep dog I ever seen† because he loved his dog and it was the only thing that stopped him from being lonely; he was very compassionate about his dog. When Carlson assumes that Candy can soon get another pet, Candy is being pressurised by him and has to give the dog up. If you love someone so much then you will let them go because you would want to do the right thing for them rather than being selfish and choosing what is right for you. Candy’s dream is to be with George and Lennie and own a ranch. He announces to Curley’s wife that they are going to have a house of their own. Curley’s wife appreciates this and makes him angry but he controls his temper and orders her to leave, telling her that she is not wanted. Candy gains confidence and courage to tell her what people think of her. Candy’s eagerness shows that the dream is actually becoming a reality to him. â€Å"I ain’t much good but I could cook, tend the chickens and hoe the garden.† He is willing to help around the farm and to buy the ranch because he is desperate for his dream to become a reality and wants companionship. He knows that he is an old man almost useless because of his age and a broken hand yet he is willing to sacrifice everything he has just for his dream to come true. Candy is lucky to have a dog for companionship because he and his dog are the closest thing on a ranch to George and Lennie’s relationship. His dog was â€Å"a good sheep dog when he was younger. He stood his broom against the wall.† He is lucky because the other characters do not have anything to love or trust. He felt that he should have shot the dog himself. Candy is angry with Curley’s wife because he knows that she has destroyed their dream. But after he realises that she was in pain, was sad and looking for companionship. â€Å"Now Candy spoke in his greatest fear,† tells us that he was terrified that his dream had been shattered. Candy tries to overcome loneliness by shutting everyone out and is left to grieve in his own world. The silence indicates pain and loneliness. When his dog was shot, Candy â€Å"rolled slowly over and faced the wall and lay silent† because there was tension built up in the atmosphere and Candy was upset because of the loss of his dog. Candy curls up into a foetal position. His spirits are lifted when he is part of the dream but then again it is shattered when Curley’s wife dies. He forms a barrier and shields himself from the outside world. He experiences anxiety and does not want to talk to anyone because he is too upset and he finds it difficult to talk to them about his problems. Curley is also lonely but does not realise it. His loneliness has affected his character. He is very aggressive and feels superior to the other men, especially those who are larger than him. This suggests that he wants to have power over everyone else. His aggression shows his character suggests that he is very short tempered â€Å"an’ Curley’s handy, god-damn handy† as he â€Å"got in the finals for the Golden Gloves.† Curley has no trust in anyone not even in his wife as â€Å"he spends half his time lookin’ for her.† He treats her like a possession and even though he has only married her for a week, he is always looking for her. He is an extrovert who is insecure. He seeks comfort by beating up people. When the men on the ranch gather to attack him, he feels threatened by it and has to prove that he is superior to everyone else. He does this by attacking Lennie and lashing out on him even though Lennie has not done anything to him. He says â€Å"come on, ya big bastard† because he wants Lennie to feel how he feels and wants to beat him up because he is larger than him. Curley does not know that he is lonely; he thinks that everyone has a lower status than him so he can boss them around. His dream is to have power over everyone else and wants to get respect from them. His dream has already been achieved. In â€Å"Of Mice and Men† Steinbeck shows us that those who have no understanding of relationship are totally unaware of George’s and Slim’s emotions because they have no friendships themselves. Carlson’s final observations are insensitive and show that he is ignorant of his own loneliness. Neither he nor Curley understands the pain George is experiencing. George and Lennie manage to avert loneliness by their relationship. Steinbeck sees loneliness as a part of the human condition, something we are born with, and something we either fight or endure for the rest of our lives. â€Å"I seen hundreds of men come by on the road an’ on the ranches with their bindles on their back an’ that same damn thing on their heads. Hundreds of them. They come, an’ they quit an’ go on; an’ every dam one of ’em’s got a little piece of land in his head. An’ never a god-damn one of ’em ever gets it.† Steinbeck suggests that everyone has a dream even though it is unattainable; it keeps their spirits up and makes them look forward to achieving, something that is inspiring and to keep their hopes up.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.