Theme of Loneliness and Isolation in the Story of Mice and Men

Loneliness is definitely one of the most awful feelings existing in society. It seizes every individual at one point in their lives. The most important contributor to this feeling is the lack of emotional empathy from other individuals. The cruel feeling of loneliness has the ability to impair a person’s mindset dreadfully, hence wreaking harmful accouterments upon one’s behavior. Through the entirety of the novella Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck pictures the common theme of loneliness adjacent to the inescapable expense that it takes, by the depth of his depiction of Curley’s wife and Crooks.

Curley’s wife experiences the monstrous feeling of loneliness mostly because she is one of the only females on the ranch. Her husband, Curley, has prohibited anyone to talk with her. She battles her loneliness by flirting with the ranch hands. The lonely girl married Curley but disdains him because she has never loved him. She despises talking to Curley, and with nobody else to talk to on the ranch, she has slipped into a deep void of loneliness. Her loneliness spurs out the dire effect on her behavior towards others on the ranch. Curley’s wife is seeking for attention that she would go as far as being flirtatious, maliciously cruel, or even evidently insecure. She would constantly roam around the ranch asking various men if they saw Curley around. With the way she behaves in a captivating manner while making sure that she looks her best at the same time, for she has, “full, rouged lips and wide-spaced eyes, heavily made-up. Her fingernails were red. Her hair hung in little rolled clusters, like sausages.

She wore a cotton housedress and red mules, on the steps of which were little bouquets of red ostrich feathers” (Steinbeck 31). She does this because she was so dejected for attention that she saw this as the only way she can get her wanted recognition. Unfortunately for Curley’s wife, her attention-seeking didn’t work out as the men treat her with aggression to avoid getting into trouble with Curley.

The loneliness she experiences leads her to infrequent sadistic behavior as well. Due to her loneliness, it made her so troubled and insecure, as she was feeding her ego by purposely insulting and patronizing others, like how she did to Lennie, Candy, and Crooks when she tries to downgrade them by calling them “a bunch of bindle-stiffs–a nigger an’ a dum-dum and a lousy ol’ sheep” (Steinbeck 71). By doing this, she reassures herself that there are people with lives worse than hers, which conclusively gave her a temporary ego boost that makes her feel well about herself for the time being. This validates how insecure she genuinely feels about herself.

However, her intentions are not solely hateful, she was an empty and lonely soul who needs someone to talk to. As she admits to Lennie, “[she] get lonely. [Lennie] can talk to people, but [she] can’t talk to nobody but Curley. Else he gets mad, How’d [he] like not to talk to anybody” (Steinbeck 87). Her loneliness surely takes an emotionally abundant toll on her, leaving her sad and deeply insecure. This also modifies her personality into one that is usually at times seductively wicked. It suggests as if her only goal in life was to wander around looking for a person to give her attention, for that is all she was ever shown doing.

The cynical part about the whole thing was that notwithstanding all of her efforts, she always failed to find a person who was inclined to talk to her, thence leaving her abyss of loneliness susceptible to even more erosion; this was a pain only to be abolished by death.

Crooks is one of the only characters in this book who faces extreme loneliness and isolation. Crooks is a black stable buck whose endless loneliness was due to the white hands’ dislike and discrimination against blacks. Unlike everyone else on the ranch, Crooks has to sleep alone in his own room, while the others slept together in a bunkhouse. In addition to this, the men never invited Crooks to play cards or go out with them to town either. Accordingly, Crooks’ contrived isolation and deep void of loneliness have taken detrimental effects on his character and his attitude towards others.

The loneliness that he encounters turned him into a remarkably bitter and harsh soul, and he generally shies away in his response to others, because no one has ever given him the kindness he needs to make him feel comfortable enough to open up. His superficial harshness served as a defense mechanism to hide and protect his weak, insecure, and vulnerable self, beneath his exterior. Because of his severe loneliness, he repeatedly lost grasp of his true self so he took on a diverse persona instead. He is so used to being in isolation he could not help but answer in a harsh and hateful demeanor when Lennie peaks in through his doorway: “[Lennie] got no right to come in [Crooks] room. This here’s [Crooks] room.

Nobody got any right in here but [Crooks}” (Steinbeck 68). Crooks’ continuous loneliness opens up to the door that leads him to be slightly sadistic as well. After talking to Lennie, he notices that Lennie has a mental condition, causing Crooks to have a major advantage in points of intelligence and common sense. He uses this to emotionally torture Lennie by telling him that George may have gotten hurt and might not come back.

At the time, Crooks’ ego was momentarily satisfied by praying on Lennie’s weakness. Crooks was treated as if he were less than human all his life, he has been vulnerable to everyone which leads him to fall into a deep depression of loneliness; now he realizes that the tables have turned for a moment, and it is now Lennie who is vulnerable to him. When Crooks realizes that he should not trick Lennie anymore, he owns up to his loneliness and admits that “a guy needs somebody to be near him.

A guy goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody. Don’t make no difference who the guy is, long’s he’s with you. I tell ya a guy gets too lonely an’ he gets sick” (Steinbeck 72-73). Crooks blatantly admits to how he gets sick of being remarkably lonely, and just as soon as he finally manages to confess and reveal himself to the outside world, he emotionally disengaged back within himself as quickly, for having perpetual company and a real possibility of emerging from his abyss of loneliness was too good to be true.