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Who is the loneliest character in the novel?
The novel `Of Mice and Men' by John Steinbeck starts with us meeting the two main characters
George, a small sharp man, and Lennie, his large, mentally disabled friend. We meet them travelling
to a ranch to earn some money, after being kicked out of Weed, where Lennie had been charged
with rape. At this ranch they meet Crooks, the black stablehand, Curley, the boss's boxer son,
Curley's wife, the only woman on the ranch and Candy, the old man with one hand and a dog, among
other characters. After Lennie accidentally kills Curley's wife, with a lynch mob after him, George has
to shoot Lennie to spare him an agonizing death. The novel ends with Slim, the jerkline skinner,
comforting George. Loneliness is a key theme in the novel and it is significant that Steinbeck uses
only one of each stereotype (e.g. one woman, one old man etc.) and this to show how lonely the
character is and how alone the character seems in the world.
The two main characters, George and Lennie, are not always considered as lonely as some of the
other characters, because "I got you and you got me, George". It is interesting Steinbeck wrote
Lennie as a mentally disabled character as this means even though they have got each other, they are
also lonely in their own way, as George cannot fully enter and understand Lennie's `world', and
George can't really converse and interact with Lennie the same way he would with other characters
while on the road. Their new boss remarks "I said what stake you got in this guy? ...I never seen one
guy take so much trouble for another guy." This shows that this kind of friendship isn't very common
in 1930s California, and by partnering up like this they have sort of set themselves apart from the
rest and may have made themselves outcasts, as people tend to be wary of anything that's
different. It is ironic that when they arrive at the ranch Lennie tells George he doesn't like it there, as
its mean there, and later, because of Curley's wife who lives on the ranch, he ends up dead and
leaves George lonely in the traditional sense of the word.
Candy is described as "a tall stoop-shouldered old man..." with "a round stick-like wrist, but no
hand..." with his only friend "...a dragfooted dog, gray of muzzle, and pale, blind old eyes." It may be
because of this disability that he is set apart from the group and lonely because he may be as
accepted as other characters such as Slim may be. He is significant because he is the only elderly
character. He is also significant because his old dog is shot by Carlson in the back of the head, which
foreshadows Lennie's death. His dog is Candy's only friend, after his dog is killed Candy becomes
quite bitter and this shows how lonely he is after his only friend. Candy is the only elderly character
but not the only disabled character, which you would think would make him have a `bond' with
Crooks, but he mistreats Crooks like the rest of the characters (apart from Lennie).
Crooks is the stablehand, and the only black character in the novel. He is mistreated by almost all the
characters except Lennie in the novel because of his colour. The treatment of Crooks by the other
characters shows us that racism is caused by the impact of other people, not inborn into humans. We
see this through Lennie, `"Why you ain't wanted?" Lennie asked. "'Cause I'm black...They say I stink."'
Through this we see that Crooks' irritable nature is a veil that he has put up to block people off and
hide himself away so he doesn't get more hurt. He mentions that he used to have white friends as a
child but realises that shouldn't have happened `The white kids come to play at our house...My ol'
man didn't like that. I never knew till long later why he didn't like that. But I know now.' As he says this
he seems resentful, because he could never have a normal life in that time with coloured skin.
Curley's wife is the only woman in the novel. Her character is lonely in two aspects, she is the only
woman in the book, and the only people she has to talk to are the men working on the ranch who
don't listen to her. She's a very isolated character in ways, as it seems that the only character who
even remotely comes close to understanding her is Lennie, and that's only because his childlike brain
allows her to feel more in control whilst in conversation with him. Curley's wife is described as `She
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Her fingernails were red,' and `she
wore a cotton house dress and red mules...' These quotes show that she is lonely and is trying to
draw attention to herself by wearing lots of make up and clothes that will make her stand out, a
practice also used by girls today. This also shows that modern girls can also relate to her `pain', as
many teenage girls feel alone in the world, and unloved, like Curley's wife shows in the quote `Sure I
gotta husban'.…read more