On the theme of loneliness in Of Mice and Men, are there any techniques or language features that Steinbeck uses to convey this theme?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that analysis of certain characters and moments will help establish Steinbeck's techniques to convey loneliness in his work.  For example, the moment when Candy's dog is about to be shot reflects a certain amount of loneliness in both Candy and the men around him. Steinbeck uses Whit's inane description of a magazine article written by a former worker at the ranch as a sort of comic relief that is to operate as the cover for "the silence" that is experienced.  This "silence" that falls on the room in waiting for the shot to kill Candy's dog helps to convey a sense of loneliness that exists in the hearts of Candy as well as all of the men in bunkhouse.  Steinbeck uses this to bring out how there is a fundamental misery that has settled in all of these men who move from ranch to ranch, with a pittance for pay, and a lack of emotional grounding to their sense of being in the world.  Another moment where style helps to bring out the theme of loneliness would be the description of Crooks' stable.  There is a certain order, a controlled element, that underscores his fundamental misery.  The only thing that he can do is to keep his place "tidy" and "neat" for Crooks will never receive anything in way of social interaction or a sense of community due to race and class barriers.  Steinbeck's description of the neatness and sense of order in Crooks' world is meant to underscore his fundamental lack of human connection.  The perfectly designed interior of his living condition is one where there is almost a compensation for a lack of human emotion and human interaction.  This same penchant for order and neatness is seen when Steinbeck first describes the bunkhouse, where economy and a sense of sparseness helps to bring out the lack of human emotion and connection present on the ranch.

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