How does the novel's setting create an atmosphere of loneliness?
Steinbeck's novel critiques the cruelties of capitalism during the Great Depression. Loneliness is conveyed through the way George and Lennie, like the other farm workers, wander from place to place in search of work, never able to settle into a real home.
The bunk house at their latest job also reveals the loneliness of the men. They each get a bunk and shelf for their belongings, but, in this crude, shared setting, it is difficult to find a sense of belonging or community. The men know they live there at the mercy of the boss and could be forced to leave at any time. Because he enters this new setting knowing no one but Lennie, George knows he has to be very careful.
George and Lennie's dream of owning their own farm stands in contrast to the loneliness of the bunk house and the wandering life of the migrant farm hand. On the fantasy farm, they imagine being able to put down roots and inviting only the people they want to visit.
George and Lennie are aware that they are lucky to have each other to rely on and to make life on the road bearable.