â€œOf Mice and Menâ€ is a novel about two migrant workers, George and Lennie and their travels to a ranch and their time spent there. The novel is set in Soledad during the 1930s Depression. Steinbeck presents the theme loneliness through the use of the characters. The men at the ranch are lonely because they spend the majority of their time travelling from one ranch to another therefore they donâ€™t have time to settle and build friendships. At the time the novel was set the US was suffering from the Great Depression, this was caused by the Stock Market crash in 1929 and this crippled that nationâ€™s economy. These economic problems aggravated a host of social problems, including, unemployment, poverty; Breakdown of families and homelessness, resulting in an increase in loneliness. George one of the novels main protagonist travels around with Lennie as his companion, George is still lonely because Lennie is mentally handicapped therefore George cannot have conversation and devotes the majority of his energy in looking after Lennie and keeping him out of trouble, â€œBut he gets into trouble alla time because heâ€™s so God damn dumb.â€. This clearly shows Georgeâ€™s frustration towards Lennie for continually getting into trouble. â€œGeorge fell silent. He wanted to talk. Slim neither encouraged or discouraged him.â€ This displays Georgeâ€™s desperation to talk to someone as he as gone so long without a normal conversation. Candy is an old swamper with one hand; he has an old blind dog which is his last possession and only companion. This shows that Candy was dependent on the dog for company and the dog was dependent on Candy to survive as the dog was unable to do anything for itself. Candy was already lonely and on his own and he knew that as soon as he became unable to clean the ranch he would be sacked because he would have become useless. â€œJusâ€™ as soon as I canâ€™t swamp out no bunk houses theyâ€™ll put me on the county.â€ This explains what he feels will happen to him when he can no longer clean and he believes that he will be sacked and kicked out. He feels this way before his dog is killed, once his dog has been shot his whole world crashed down in front of him, and he wants to be shot just like his dog. â€œWhen they can me here I wisht somebodyâ€™d shoot me.â€ He believes that he no longer has a purpose in life. I think Steinbeck included the shooting of candyâ€™s dog in the novel because it shows how candyâ€™s life deteriorates after the painful loss of his only companion. The shooting symbolises how people during that time became dependent on possessions such as dogs for companionship, and how when these things are taken away peoples lives are destroyed, because they have become reliant on their dogs for such a long time, due to the depression they have been unable to build friendships because of the endless travelling from job to job. And this is reflected in the novel because George and Lennie have been moving from job to job. Crooks is a black stable-buck, he is extremely lonely because he is segregated from the other workers and has no choice but to live alone in the stable. â€œCause Iâ€™m black. They play cards in there, but I canâ€™t play because Iâ€™m black.â€ This shows his loneliness, because he is not allowed to interact with the white workers because he is black. Steinbeck has presented Crooks as a character with a crooked back. â€œHis body was bent down to the left.â€ This makes him appear as if he is bowing to every one else in the play, this shows his lower status which could suggest a lower class, which increases his loneliness. At the time the novel was written black people were segregated from white members of society and could be arrested for insignificant things, also the KKK (Klu Klux Klan) were known to kill black people frequently, for no reasons at all. I believe that Steinbeck has used characters effectively to explore how migrant workers in this time were lonely and desperate for companionship. He incorporates cultural factors in the novel through the different characters to explore loneliness from different perspectives.
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