The Great Depression brought adversity not just to individuals, but to an entire socio-economic class. Because so many men were dispossessed, the impact upon them was profound.
- The "bindle stiffs" have nothing but a bedroll and a few clothes; they usually have no friends, so they drift from job to job.
- When the narrative begins, George and Lennie enter the clearing as George grumbles that the bus driver did not have to drop them so far from the road and they will lose a day's work as a consequence.
- When George and Lennie arrive at the ranch and are in the bunkhouse, George notices some spray for lice. "Say. What the hell's this?" The old Swamper tells him it's nothing. But, George does not believe him.
- Then, when Curley, and later Curley's wife, enter the bunkhouse, George feels that they both will bring trouble; consequently, he warns Lennie not to have anything to do with the woman who is "jail bait."
- Crooks, the stable mate, is extremely mistrustful since he has been relegated to the barn and is marginalized at the ranch because he is black.
- Much cruelty is born of fear. Curley is cruel because he is small and fears that someone can fight better than he or lure his wife away.
- Sometimes George is cruel to Lennie because Lennie is slow and repeats behaviors that get him into trouble such as petting animals too hard that they die; also he is too strong for women and hurts them.
- Old Candy fears the time when he cannot be useful at the ranch; he knows he will be discarded. He also loses hope because the dream of owning a farm has been lost with the death of Lennie.
- Curley's wife feels that she has made a terrible mistake in marrying Curley because they are miles from any town and there are no other women on the ranch.
- Crooks, too, feels hopeless because he is not treated as the others are and he must live alone without chances that are available to others..
- George feels completely lost after Lennie's death because both his friend and the dream are gone.
- Moving from job to job, the bindle stiffs never form any interpersonal relationships. They are always strangers to everyone. When the boss sees George and Lennie together, he wonders about their relationship as usually men just arrive at the ranch alone. When George talks for Lennie, the boss is suspicious.
- Curley's wife certainly feels alienated on the ranch away from home and any friends or family. Further she confides in Lennie, "I don' like Curley. He ain't a nice fella."
- Of course, Crooks feels alienated and alone as he must live by himself in the barn.
A guy sits alone out her at night, maybe readin' books or thinkin' or stuff like that. Sometimes he get thinkin' an' he got nothing to tell him what's so an' what ain't so.