Of Mice and Men - Lonliness

Breaking the Loneliness

In John Steinbeck?s Of Mice and Men, loneliness is one of the many underlying themes that is expressed in the novel through many of its characters. Some of the factors of this human isolation are age, sexism and racism. Despite the on-going struggle to prevent its occurrence, loneliness is also a feeling a large number of people experience from day to day in our society. In the novel, Candy is a lonely and disabled, elderly man who feels isolated from the rest of the younger workers on the ranch. Candy knows that society rejects seniors such as himself because they are stereotyped as useless and unproductive citizens. Carlson symbolizes society in the novel as Candy?s dog is a symbol for the elderly: "He ain't no good to you, Candy. An' he ain't no good himself. Why'n't you shoot him, Candy?" (44). Candy?s dog, old and frail like his owner, is his only companion and once he is put out of his misery, Candy is left completely alone in the world. He turns to George and Lennie who, reluctantly at first, agree to include him in on their plans of one day owning their own farm. Today, seniors are still slightly perceived as somewhat incompetent for they are frail and lack the muscle power they once possessed. They often have trouble walking the same distances they walked when they were younger. Many also cannot exert the same strength they once were able to. When they are no longer capable of tending to themselves, many relatives have them placed in senior homes to be taken care of by complete strangers. This puts them in isolation away from the rest of the world. The reason why many elderly people are owners of pets is because they long for their company and unconditional companionship, something the rest of the world is blindly incapable of offering. The only difference: Animals are not dismissive and uncompassionate creatures. They don?t know any better than to love and accept people who treat them with the same respect they are paid.
Curley?s wife is another character who struggles with isolation for she is just a woman, a minority to the many workers who have invaded her home. Just newlywedded to Curley, she is the only female on the ranch and therefore, is granted no social power. Furthermore, Curley?s wife is not given a name in the novel. This is the author?s attempt to draw the readers? attention to the fact that she is viewed as unimportant or of lower status to the males. Because of her flirtatious manner, Curley has forbidden her to speak to anyone but himself and she has since approached the ranchers with excuses to find her husband . All the ranchers consider her to be somewhat of a prostitute often referring to her as a ?tart?. However, I see her behaviour as a desperate cry for attention, something she is greatly deprived of. All she wants is someone to talk to and be able to converse with. Slim is the only one who does not hold her seductive actions against her and judge her as the other men do. His character is a symbol of the kind and compassionate citizens of our society who recognize sexism and make an attempt to try and improve the situation. I am quite astonished at how sexism hasn?t improved in many countries such as India for example. In some parts of India, the dowry system is a depressing tradition. This is a system where the bride?s family gives her gifts such as cars, money and livestock to attract men. More recently, dowries are demanded by the groom and in many cases the bride?s family is forced to take out loans with great interest to satisfy his demands. Another example of sexism comes from the poorer regions of India where female infanticide is common. Female infanticide is the illegal act of abortion when the pregnant mother acquires knowledge that her child will be born a girl. Crooks, in my opinion is the most isolated character in this novel for one reason and one reason only: his skin colour. He lives alone in the stables with the horses and is only allowed into the bunkhouse with the rest of the workers during Christmas. Most of the men are prejudiced against Crooks and he is constantly reminded of his ?fault?