How do I start my essay on the theme of loneliness in Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men?

Expert Answers
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Since setting is extremely important to the themes of Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, you may wish to make mention of the disenfranchisement of males that occurred as a result of the Great Depression.  These dispossessed men known as "bindle stiffs" rode the boxcars of trains, leaving their families as they searched for work in California.  Among these men are the characters of the novella, with Lennie Small as representative of these alienated men.  As Steinbeck himself wrote,

Lennie was not to represent insanity at all but the inarticulate and powerful yearning of all men.

After introducing the backdrop for the loneliness of men, you may wish to build a thesis around the fact that it is this desire to overcome the terrible alienation of their condition that the dispossessed men of the Depression seek the American Dream and the fraternity of men. 

In order to support your thesis statement about the condition of the alienated men, you can point to the passages in Of Mice and Men in which those who are alienated become aggressive, as George remarks to Slim that men who travel around alone become "mean"; of course, Curley's character illustrates the results of being disassociated from others.

Furthering the theme of loneliness and the efforts to escape it, George and Lennie find a contentment in the recital of their dream and in passages in which George speaks to Slim of his and Lennie's having each other. In addtion, Crooks's remarks about the importance of having someone by which to measure oneself as well as Candy's desire to join George and Lennie in their plan for owning a little farm help develop this theme.  All of these instances point to the "inarticulate and powerful yearning of all men" for fraternity (a theme).

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William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

My impression is that it would be much better to focus on one character in the story who is lonely rather than trying to show how each of the principal characters suffers from loneliness. Less is more. If you try to discuss nearly every character in the story, you will spread yourself too thin. You will also find yourself exaggerating in order to make some of the characters as seemingly lonely as the others. It would be much easier to show the loneliness in one of the really lonely people and to use some direct quotes from their dialogue to illustrate how and why they feel lonely. It strikes me that the two loneliest people on the ranch are Curley's wife and Crooks. George and Lennie, the main characters, are not quite so lonely because they have each other. Slim seems pretty self-sufficient. Carlson is more angry than lonely. But Curley's wife and Crooks both seem terribly lonely, for different reasons. Curley's wife reveals her loneliness to Lennie in the barn just before he accidentally kills her. Crooks does not admit he is lonely, but Steinbeck's description of his living quarters and his poor possessions speaks eloquently of the loneliness he suffers because of the unfair racial discrimination. 

Your introduction could be simple. You could just say something like: "All the characters in Of Mice and Men suffer from loneliness. A good example is Crooks (or Curley's wife). You might explain how they try to cope with their loneliness. Curley's wife makes the mistake of trying to become friendly with Lennie in the barn. Crooks tries to cope by reading and pretending that he prefers to be alone.

The best suggestion I have to make is that you focus on an individual rather than trying to cover the whole broad subject of loneliness.

catlover1908 | Student

You should go back and read what Crooks tells Lennie while they are in Crooks' room to come up with some ideas.

foreigninquiry | Student

I think you should start with a little review of the author and modernism.

and how the theme of loneliness has in fact to do with the alienation of authors at that time.

cortiz8 | Student

Start out with your intro paragraph(3 sentences): the first sentence should be something to grab the readers attention, the second should restate the prompt and the third should be your thesis/claim

Once you do this, begin to talk about the examples of loneliness and make sure to address the prompt or assignment given to you. Also, if you need more information on loneliness, I suggest checking out sparknotes 

EndplaysMC | Student

Well u should always start with a capital and u should write something very catchy,my opinion.