John Steinbeck’s novel Of Mice and Men contains the haunting theme of isolation that captures the “abused” little man of 1920’s America. Throughout the novel, it is shown that loneliness and isolation has a greater affect on us than may seem. Steinbeck’s characters experience different forms of isolation based on the specific prejudice contained within themselves. This theme is shown in Crooks and his isolation due to his race, Candy due to his age, and Curley’s wife due to her quality as “jail bait. ” Candy, characterized as an old swamper, is victimized into isolation as a result of two main factors: his basic disability and his age.
Throughout the book we find the farmhands out bucking the barley while Candy is left behind to sweep and clean the ranch. We see the reason for isolation due to his lack of a hand which he lost after getting it caught in a piece of machinery. Candy’s age also adds to his isolation. Because Candy himself thinks that he is useless he puts himself in a state of mind that handicaps him more than his missing hand ever. He looks down on himself as an old worthless man that’s wasting away his last few years. Candy’s character shows us that sometimes its not just other people that isolate us, but that in some cases it is also ourselves.
The most evident case of loneliness throughout the book is Curley’s wife. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t find attention. In response to her reputation for being a flirt none of the farmhands wanted to talk to her in fear of getting in trouble with Curley. When she talks with George she gives a perfect insight into the effect and end result of solitude; “A guy goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody. Don’t matter no difference who the guy is, long’s he’s with you. I tell ya a guy gets too lonely an’ he gets sick. ” In addition Curley’s insecure feelings cause her neglect and forced her to seek attention anyway she could.
Lastly, Crooks finds isolation in terms of the prejudice of race. Because he is a black man he is forced to live, in this case alone in the barn, while the other farmhands stay in the bunkhouse. Discrimination played a major role during the “Dust Bowl Era,” the setting of this book, and it is this that the other farmhands believe that it is necessary to not “allow,” as it seems a privilege in their minds, him to live with them. Furthermore, his separation from others causes his severe loneliness spending his nights reading and his days alone in the barn working on the horses.
Crooks quickly finds out how degenerative solitude can be to one’s mind and body. Loneliness and isolation are inevitable facts of life that not even the strongest can avoid. Throughout the story Of Mice and Men we discover the many sources of the characters solitude stemming from singular prejudices. Crooks, Candy, and Curley’s wife all suffer from these “vices,” all of which lead them to their isolation. The consequences found in this book show the world as a place for interconnected communication and how without interaction the human mind and body soon finds its destruction.