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'No man is an island' - what does Steinbeck have to say about this in "Of Mice and...

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qawsedrftgyhu... | Student, Grade 10 | Honors

Posted March 10, 2008 at 4:41 PM via web

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'No man is an island' - what does Steinbeck have to say about this in "Of Mice and Men"?

It implies that human beings do not thrive when isolated from others. How do you think Steinbeck addresses this idea in the novel?

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Jamie Wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted March 10, 2008 at 9:16 PM (Answer #1)

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Steinbeck doesn't say this directly, but yes, it is a part of his theme.  George and Lennie need one another.  Without the other to sustain him, the dream of having their own place would not be even a dream. 

Here's an excerpt from the first chapter.  George is telling the story they both know by heart:

"We got a future.  We got somebody to talk to who gives a damn about us....".

Lennie broke in,  "But not us!  An' why?  Because...because I got you to  after me, and you got me to look after you, and that's why."

When Lennie and George join Slim's crew, others envy the bond the pair share and try to "swim" to the island of security.  Candy desperately wants to share in the dream.  Curley's wife, too, wants to be accepted and valued. 

After Lennie is killed, one feels more sorry for George, really, because he must go on alone. 

Just FYI, "no man is an island" comes from the John Donne poem:

No man is an island, entire of itself every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls it tolls for thee.

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