How are the characters Slim and Curley lonely in the novel Of Mice and Men?detail reference with quotes if possible please...

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

During Lennie's conversation with Crooks, Crooks describes the men on the ranch as lonely, homeless individuals, who live transient lives traveling from ranch to ranch looking for work. Crooks tells Lennie,

"I seen hundreds of men come by on the road an' on the ranches, with their bindles on their back an' that same damn thing in their heads. Hundreds of them. They come, an' they quit an' go on; an' every damn one of 'em's got a little piece of land in his head. An' never a God damn one of 'em ever gets it. Just like heaven. Ever'body wants a little piece of lan'" (Steinbeck, 36).

Even though Slim is depicted as a wise authority figure, he still works on the ranch and does not have a family of his own. Slim does not mention a dream of owning his own homestead, but continually travels into town to congregate with women and drink, which signifies that he is a rather lonely man, like the other workers on the ranch.

Curley is the boss's son, who is portrayed as an aggressive man. When George first arrives on the ranch, Candy tells him, "Well, I think Curley's married... a tart" (Steinbeck, 14). Curley's wife causes him stress, and he is continually looking for her on the ranch. Curley reveals that he is an insecure man who is rather lonely because his wife does not show him affection. She is unhappy with their marriage and continually attempts to talk to the ranch workers. Curley fears that his wife will cheat on him, which is why he is constantly upset and looking for her.

rshaffer eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Although Slim can be viewed as the hero of the story, he is still lonely because he is more of a doer than a dreamer.  He is a hard working ranch hand who does an excellent job. Loneliness is typical of men like Slim who chose this life as a means to make money because they travel alone and move around quite often whenever a job is complete.  A quote by George helps to understand the loneliness of ranch hands:

"Guys like us," George says, "that work on the ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world. They got no family. They don't belong noplace."

On the otherhand, because Curley's family owns the ranch, one would think that he is not lonely.  This is far from the truth.  Curley is a lonely character because he is a coward.  He has no friends, and he is married to a woman that does not love him.  In fact, his loneliness is further realized because he cannot love his wife; he can only possess her.