Loneliness is an important theme in 'Of Mice and Men'. How does Steinbeck show it through Crooks and Curley's Wife and how does it affect their behaviour?

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lsumner | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

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Loneliness is an important theme in Of Mice and Men. Two characters who are extremely lonely are Crooks and Curley's wife.

Curley's wife lives an isolated life. She is the only woman mentioned in the novel. She flirts with the ranch hands due to her loneliness. She only dreams of the time she could have been an actress:

But she is pathetically lonely and had once had dreams of being a movie star.

She is married to a possessive, jealous type man. She does not feel loved. She feels as if she is a possession:

Curley's wife (as the boss's son's flirtatious wife, she is not identified by any other name) wanders around the ranch searching for some human contact. She is stereotyped by the men as a "tart." Indeed, she plays the vamp, which enrages her jealous husband. George tells Lennie to avoid her, calling her "poison" and "jailbait."

She is so desperately lonely until she reaches out to Lennie. She is so all alone until she finds herself spending time with Lennie. She teases Lennie by asking him to feel of her hair. Lennie accidentally breaks her neck. Her loneliness costs her her life.

Crooks is a lonely character. He is ostracized by the the white ranch hands. He even has to sleep in separate quarters. He lives a lonely existence because he is black. He is not invited to spend time with the ranch hands. He is not invited to play games with the other ranch hands:

Crooks, the despairing old Negro stable worker, lives alone in the harness room, ostracized from the ranch hands.

Crooks becomes bitter because of his loneliness. He has no dreams of his own; therefore, he discourages George's and Lennie's dream:

On the one occasion when he briefly talks to Lennie and Candy, the bunkhouse worker who wants to be part of the dream farm Lennie and George are planning to buy, Crooks tells them they will never attain their dream.

No doubt, Curley's wife and Crooks are trapped in an isolated life. Both feel that there is no one there for them. They crave company. They just desire someone with which to communicate. Life doesn't get any lonelier than what the two experience:

Both she and Crooks crave company and "someone to talk to."


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