How are Lennie, George, and Curley lonely in Of Mice and Men?

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mercut1469 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The pain of loneliness is one of the major themes in Steinbeck's novella. The characters who are overtly lonely include Crooks and Curley's wife, but an argument could be made that all the characters suffer from loneliness and alienation. Lennie and George have a distinct advantage over the other characters because they have each other. Lennie is often saying, in reference to their friendship and how others might be alone:

“But not us! An’ why? Because . . . . because I got you to look after me, and you got me to look after you, and that’s why.”

Lennie, however, becomes lonely when George goes into Soledad on a Saturday night. In chapter four, he is in the barn when he sees Crooks's light. He is naturally interested in starting a conversation with Crooks out of the need to be with someone, which Crooks will bitterly describe to Lennie in this chapter.

George is sometimes described with the term "morose." While not defined as loneliness it does indicate that George is sullen and gloomy. He feels the depression and loneliness of a man who is always on the move, never able to put down roots and stay in one place. Moreover, he is constantly worried about Lennie and what the big man might do which will get them in trouble or "canned" from a job. His dream is to one day have his own "little piece of land." This dream farm is for George, and other characters, the solution to loneliness and unease.

Curley is a man alone searching for companionship which he never finds. He is forever looking for his wife or trying to intimidate the other men, which seems to be simply a way of getting their attention and showing off his perceived power over them. Unfortunately for Curley, he never finds his wife and never connects with any of the men. He is, even more than Crooks and his wife, an outcast without friends. That he feels the pain of this loneliness is unclear. Throughout the story he remains a static character who never changes from the brutish and angry little man who is introduced in chapter two.