How should I start an essay on loneliness in Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men?

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My impression is that it would be much better to focus on one character in the story who is lonely rather than trying to show how each of the principal characters suffers from loneliness. Less is more. If you try to discuss nearly every character in the story, you will...

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spread yourself too thin. You will also find yourself exaggerating in order to make some of the characters as seemingly lonely as the others. It would be much easier to show the loneliness in one of the really lonely people and to use some direct quotes from their dialogue to illustrate how and why they feel lonely. It strikes me that the two loneliest people on the ranch are Curley's wife and Crooks.George and Lennie, the main characters, are not quite so lonely because they have each other. Slim seems pretty self-sufficient. Carlson is more angry than lonely. But Curley's wife and Crooks both seem terribly lonely, for different reasons. Curley's wife reveals her loneliness to Lennie in the barn just before he accidentally kills her. Crooks does not admit he is lonely, but Steinbeck's description of his living quarters and his poor possessions speaks eloquently of the loneliness he suffers because of the unfair racial discrimination. 

Your introduction could be simple. You could just say something like: "All the characters in Of Mice and Men suffer from loneliness. A good example is Crooks (or Curley's wife). You might explain how they try to cope with their loneliness. Curley's wife makes the mistake of trying to become friendly with Lennie in the barn. Crooks tries to cope by reading and pretending that he prefers to be alone.

The best suggestion I have to make is that you focus on an individual rather than trying to cover the whole broad subject of loneliness.

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Since setting is extremely important to the themes of Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, you may wish to make mention of the disenfranchisement of males that occurred as a result of the Great Depression.  These dispossessed men known as "bindle stiffs" rode the boxcars of trains, leaving their families as they searched for work in California.  Among these men are the characters of the novella, with Lennie Small as representative of these alienated men.  As Steinbeck himself wrote,

Lennie was not to represent insanity at all but the inarticulate and powerful yearning of all men.

After introducing the backdrop for the loneliness of men, you may wish to build a thesis around the fact that it is this desire to overcome the terrible alienation of their condition that the dispossessed men of the Depression seek the American Dream and the fraternity of men. 

In order to support your thesis statement about the condition of the alienated men, you can point to the passages in Of Mice and Men in which those who are alienated become aggressive, as George remarks to Slim that men who travel around alone become "mean"; of course, Curley's character illustrates the results of being disassociated from others.

Furthering the theme of loneliness and the efforts to escape it, George and Lennie find a contentment in the recital of their dream and in passages in which George speaks to Slim of his and Lennie's having each other. In addtion, Crooks's remarks about the importance of having someone by which to measure oneself as well as Candy's desire to join George and Lennie in their plan for owning a little farm help develop this theme.  All of these instances point to the "inarticulate and powerful yearning of all men" for fraternity (a theme).

Please see the links below for additional ideas.

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I need help on the theme of loneliness and isolation for an essay on Of Mice and Men.

Certainly, John Steinbeck's novella Of Mice and Men is an unsympathetic portrayal of man's alienation and terrible aloneness during the Great Depression as so many men were forced to become itinerant workers.  These "bindle stiffs" as represented by Steinbeck's memorable characters became wary of each other, even aggressive in their vulnerability.

That the itinerant workers are dispossessed and lonely becomes apparent from the very beginning of the narrative as George Milton and Lennie Small step off a bus on an empty road, miles from the town of Soledad, the Spanish word for alone, and miles from the ranch where they will begin work as harvesters.

When they reach the bunkhouse, the old swamper is there alone because he is left behind since he has lost a hand and is aged.  George surveys the empty beds and is told he can have one bunk that has lice spray on the shelf.  Fearing that the previous occupant has had lice, George is angered out of his fear.  Candy, the old swamper, assures George that the man was clean, but George is naturally mistrustful of a stranger.  As they talk, the old man "looked uneasily from George to Lennie"; later, Candy dodgedly tells George about Curley, eliciting an opinion from George which reassures him: "The swamper warmed to his gossip."  After this conversation, George sits at the table, but he is alone, playing solitaire.  When Carlson, the cold, brutal mechanic, enters the bunkhouse, Candy is intimidated. Carlson's shooting of his own dog reminds Candy of his fear of being put out himself when he is no longer useful.

Of course Crooks is representative of the worst kind of isolation since he is completely segregated from all the other men.  He has books and the mules as his company.  Like those who are alone, Crooks, too, is at first aggressive in his apprehension of the motives of others.  But, when he realizes the simplicity of Lennie, he relents and speaks more kindly, explaining how terrible his aloneness is.  For, he has no one by whom to "measure" himself, no one to tell him whether he really saw something, no one with whom to confide.  Like Candy, he is eager to join George and Lennie in their American Dream of owning a place of their own that no one can take from them--of having security.

In his narrative, Steinbeck injects constant threats to the fraternity of man: mistrust, prejudices, differences, and a woman.  Curley's wife poses as an Eve, the temptress who disrupts the brotherhood of the men that work together and play cards or throw horseshoes together.  But, when Curley's wife stands in the doorway, tension begins as the men must worry about the boss's son and any retaliation he may take against them; they worry about what another of them may do which can jeopardize their jobs; they are concerned about what she may say about them if they act positively or negatively toward her.  Certainly, there are tensions created among men who are so isolated from others.

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I need help on the theme of loneliness and isolation for an essay on Of Mice and Men.

I cannot write an essay for you, but I can point to specifics that deal with the theme of loneliness and isolation in John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men.

George is a lonely man. Having promised Lennie's Aunt Clara that he would watch out for Lennie when she died, George shoulders the responsibility of caring for this very big and strong man, with the mind of a child. They run into problems because of Lennie's child-like behavior, and George has to deal with them. He hopes to have a place of his own someday.

Lennie is not lonely, but he is isolated. Part of the reason for his isolation is that he gets into trouble with others, by doing things that upset people, though Lennie is innocent of any ill-intent. They are run out of the town of Weed because George tries to touch the soft dress of a girl. The gesture is misunderstood, and the pair have to flee. At the end of the novel, George warns Lennie not to speak to Curley's wife for fear that there will be a misunderstanding—when he does, it goes tragically beyond a misunderstanding.

Because of the Great Depression of the 1930s, many people had lost their jobs and homes. Because of this there was a great migration of people moving across the country, looking for work. Because George and Lennie are like so many others in the country, they have no place to call home and must move to find work—or to avoid trouble Lennie has inadvertently caused. It is a lonely life living on the road and moving frequently.

The bunk house is like a hotel: it is filled with bunk beds. One wall is made up of a large door. The other three walls are covered with windows. There is a table in the middle and a stove to the side. This is a place where people come and go. They do not live here, but bunk down while there is work and/or leave when the work is done or they want to move on. Ironically, though there is a group of men living there, the men are not a family; the bunkhouse is simply a place to rest until it's time to move on. Being in the company of others does not guarantee that one will not be lonely.

Loneliness is a way of life that the men at the ranch understand better than the friendship that binds Lennie to George.

Even Slim, who is usually sympathetic and understanding, expresses surprise. 'Ain't many guys travel around together. I don't know why. Maybe ever'body in the whole damned world is scared of each other.'

Another character who is extremely lonely is Curley's wife. The tragedy at the end of the story is due in large part to her need to talk with someone, to connect to another human being. She does not like her husband and is full of ideas of what her life could have been like had she not married Curley. When Lennie says he cannot talk to her, she responds:

Wha's the matter with me?...Ain't I got the right to talk to nobody?

Lastly, Crooks must be the loneliest, most alienated person on the ranch. He is black, in a widely racist society. An old man, he lives alone, working the stables and bunking in the harness room. He has no dreams of deliverance and expects no one else's dreams will come true either, including George, Lennie and now Candy's dream of owning their own place.

This is a story of great loneliness and isolation. Even in the midst of all that George does for Lennie, his only reward is caring for another man, never finding a place of his own or companionship.

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Can you please help me write an essay on the topic "loneliness" from the novel Of Mice and Men?

You have a good general topic, so you can follow it in a lot of different directions. First, you need to decide on a thesis statement, the idea you want to explain and prove in your essay. Loneliness does play an important role in the play, but how? Who is lonely? Who is not? What causes people to feel lonely? What keeps them from feeling lonely?

Start with the characters. Curley's wife is lonely. Candy is not lonely as the play begins, but he will be very lonely after his dog is killed. George and Lennie are not lonely.

There seems to be a thesis idea in these characters. The characters in Of Mice and Men are not lonely if they have a companion to share their lives. I think you could explain and support this idea by discussing Curley's wife, Candy, and George and Lennie.

There are some enotes links below that will take you to some excellent materials over the play. The information you will find by using these enotes sources should help you with your essay. Good luck!

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Can you please help me write an essay on the topic "loneliness" from the novel Of Mice and Men?

I think that in examining the characters in the novel, you might be able to derive some valuable information about the topic of loneliness.  I would start off with George.  Where is he lonely?  How can we see loneliness in his heart and spirit?  Certainly, you can start off with the ending and having to put down Lennie in the face of the lynch mob.  Pay attention to how Steinbeck describes this and the feelings George experiences afterwards.  It would be appropriate to argue that Lennie and George always travelled together and there was a relationship between the two of them predicated on George's care (There are plenty of quotes where George says this, where Lennie believes this, and where Steinbeck asserts this.)  If this is true, when Lennie is gone, George must experience a physical and emotional sense of emptiness.  Finally, I would suggest that George is also lonely because his hopes and faith that things will work out for him are dashed significantly.  The weakness of Curly's wife and the cruelty of Curly and the mob prove to George that social harmony is not possible in the life he is leading.  This contributes to a sense of loneliness.  I think you could also extrapolate this to talking about how George is animated and inspired by his dreams.  Both big and small, owning a farm with Lennie or skipping work to go to a ball game, George believes in the motivating power and the successful element of his dreams.  When they are dashed, when he does not make it big, and when success is not evident, there might be a feeling of loneliness here, too.  When dreams are all one has and they are dashed, despair and abandonment are quite natural feelings.  You can find some evidence and thoughts from the book in this realm, as well.

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