Of Mice and Men
Loneliness and abandonment in John Steinbeck’s novel “Of Mice and Men”. The theme of loneliness, anxiety and abandonment can be described as one of the important topics in literature. The fact that a person is alone in this world has also been widely depicted in existentialist philosophy which claims that there is no reason why a person is being brought to this world where there is no happiness waiting for him. The alienation of individual human beings who pursue their own desires in estrangement from the actual institutional workings of the society also determines alienation in the society.
Most painfully, it’s possible to point out that all of the personal human relations are poisoned by the feelings of alienation from any “other”. John Steinbeck’s novel “Of Mice and Men” reflects the loneliness of American laborers who struggle against it but whose dreams get destroyed by cruel reality. He novel’s impressive scope and sophistication attract the reader’s attention from the first words. In an engaging and accessible style it shows the main events which happened in the life of the main characters.
Anxiety pervades the whole novel, and it depicts how the meaninglessness of the existence fills the laborers with anxiety and despair, a sense of hopelessness and deep depression. The main characters of the novel George and Lennie seem to overcome loneliness by being together, but it’s just a form of self-deception, for their alienation cannot be overcome. George says, “…guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world. They got no family. They don’t belong no place…. With us it ain’t like that. We got a future. We got somebody to talk to that gives a damn about us.
” (Chapter 1, pg. 13-14). Even though Lennie is completely dumb and cannot understand much of what George is saying, he keeps at least some company. They want to be together because this makes them feel wanted and not abandoned by everyone. The relationship between George and Lennie turns out very controversial. The greatest irony is that, despite of struggling hard, they are destined to have this feeling of alienation for the rest of their lives, and the anguish they have is the underlying, all-pervasive, universal condition of their human existence.
The author doesn’t represent George and Lennie as foils, on the contrary, they are depicted as characters completing the life of each other. The life George and Lennie lead, along with lots of other people like them, moving all over the country, never knowing anyone very long, is extremely lonely. The peculiar kind of friendship George and Lennie share appears unusual to other laborers. Slim remarks on their peculiar kind of friendship: “‘Ain’t many guys travel around together…I don’t know why.
Maybe ever’body in the whole damn world is scared of each other. ‘” Chapter 2, pg. 35. All the other workers whom they meet at their new job are very lonely and don’t have anybody to talk to. Crooks is a black man and nobody wants to deal with him because he is black. When Lennie starts talking to him, Crooks realizes that Lennie doesn’t understand a word and talks only about his own thoughts but Crooks is happy he can at least talk to a crazy person like that, it makes him feel he also overcomes alienation in his life.
Another lonely person in the novel is Curley’s wife who is neglected by her husband and who wants at least some attention from workers. The feeling of loneliness pushes all the characters towards making their dream about their own farm come true- all the people to whom George and Lennie mention the possibility of getting a farm ask whether they could join, too. The idea of the farm represents the ideal for them because with their own farm, they would not be lonely anymore, it symbolizes home for them where they could finally be happy, where they could work together and rely on each other.
However, they are not destined to have an exit from the anxiety and despair they have, their fixation on alienation, and the hovering on the edge of the abyss. With the hyperbolic description of Lennie’s death, John Steinbeck makes the reader realizes that from now on Geroge will remain completely alone in this world and the dream of the farm is ruined. George’s sense of a generalized uneasiness, a fear or dread is imposed again on him as he feels estrangement between his consciousness and all the objects around him.
Despite this deed, George still remains a protagonist in the novel since killing Lennie was the best sign of his love for his friend. George prefers loneliness to letting Lennie suffer in the cage. George’s alienation represents the universal fear or nothingness of human existence. From now on, George is going to leave with the feeling of guilt for killing his friend, suffer because his dreams were destroyed but he is proud of his choice and this will eventually give him peace on his mind.
1. John Steinbeck. Of Mine and Men.Sample Essay of PapersOwl.com