"Guys like us that work on the ranches are the loneliest guys in the world," George observes early in Steinbeck's novella. This alienation of the itinerant worker is a theme that the author has examined in his other works, such as his seminal work, The Grapes of Wrath. For, as the great English poet, John Donne, wisely observed, "no man is an island unto himself"; people need other people since sharing with others is what gives meaning to their lives, while community lends recognition and security to people. With his "God-like eyes," Slim the muleskinner is respected and liked by the bindle stiffs. Because of these feelings from others, Slim is secure in his position and has no pettiness.
On the other hand, the others such as George, Lennie, Candy, and Crooks are very insecure and lonely; therefore, they seek strength in fraternity. The idealistic dream of George and Lennie brings them together in a friendship-
With us it ain't like that. We got a future. We got somebody to talk to that gives a damn about us"--
in which they all can contribute. For instance, Candy offers to put in the money he has received for the loss of his hand; Crooks offers to work hard on the little farm in return for room and board there. For, if he can live with others, then Crooks will have someone by whom he can "measure" himself because
"A guy needs somebody—to be near him. A guy goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody."
Further, Crooks wisely comments upon the need for fraternity,
"I seen it over an' over-a guy talkin' to another guy and it don't make no difference if he don't hear or understand. The thing is, they're talkin', or they're settin' still not talkin'. It don't make no difference, no difference....It's just the talking."
Curley's wife certainly understands this need to communicate with others,
"Why can't I talk to you? I never get to talk to nobody. I get awful lonely,"
she says in Chapter 5. This desire for attention leads her to act in tempting ways, ways which become her nemesis as she lures Lennie into touching her hair. She dies because her attempts for communion with others are inauthentic while Candy's and Crooks's are genuine. Nevertheless, all the main characters cry out in their souls for the meaning and empowerment that others can give to their lives.