How does the title in "Of Mice and Men" foreshadow loneliness in the novella?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In Steinbeck's use of the Burns's line, one can see how it foreshadows a sense of loneliness that pervades the work.  The standard translation of the line reads as, "The best-laid plans of mice and men / Often go awry."  This reflects a condition of loneliness in how these plans are all that keep humans company.  When they "go awry," the human being is lost, left without anything else to accompany them.  Certainly, this condition is seen in George, when his plans "go awry" and he has to undertake an action that will leave him condemned to loneliness for as long as he lives.  Candy feels this same loneliness when he encounters the body of Curley's wife.  In this instant, he spits venom at the corpse, calling her names out of hurt because he knows that his plans have also gone "awry" at that moment.  The "plans" that Curley's wife had for her life have "gone awry."  This has caused her to be lonely in her life and yearning for company.  For these characters, the plans they made and all the hope and expectation that were put in them have dissipated into nothing more than a cavernous regret and a sense of abandonment.  This is where Steinbeck's use of Burns's line helps to foreshadow the loneliness that is a part of the text and the worl's overall message.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial