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Loneliness is an important theme in Of Mice and Men. However, Crooks is more severely affected than most of the characters. Cut off by color segregation from the gregarious atmosphere of the ranch house, he lives alone in the harness room. He is "more permanent than the other men," and his loneliness is exacerbated by constantly seeing ranch hands come and go. This is one reason why he is so cynical about George and Lennie's dream of buying their own land, as he has seen many former hands fail to accomplish this. Nonetheless, his loneliness is such that, even though he does not believe they will achieve their dream, he offers to come and work for them free of charge if they ever do.

Crooks hesitates to make this suggestion, and it is clearly difficult for him to unbend in this way. It is clear from Steinbeck's description of Crooks that his loneliness is perpetuated by a vicious circle. He is described as "a proud, aloof man" who "kept his distance and demanded that other people keep theirs." When he discovers George and Lennie in his room, he peremptorily orders them to get out, saying:

"I ain't wanted in the bunkhouse, and you ain't wanted in my room."

"Why ain't you wanted?" Lennie asked.

"'Cause I'm black. They play cards in there, but I can't play because I'm black. They say I stink. Well, I tell you, you all of you stink to me."

Years of segregation and harsh treatment have exacerbated Crooks's bitterness and, consequently, his loneliness. He is now hostile to the men who sleep in the bunkhouse, even on the rare occasions when they want to be friends with him. He is envious of George and Lennie's friendship, as well as the camaraderie of the bunkhouse, complaining to Lennie:

You got George. You know he's goin' to come back. S'pose you didn't have nobody. S'pose you couldn't go into the bunkhouse and play rummy 'cause you was black. How'd you like that?...A guy goes nuts if he ain't got nobody.

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Crooks is lonely because he is a black man on a ranch that is otherwise white. The 1930s was a highly racist period in American history, and the other ranch hands shun him because he is black. We learn that they refuse to let him sleep with them in the bunkhouse. Therefore, he has a room by himself off the barn, where he sleeps in a trough. He has made it a civilized place with books and his repair equipment.

Crooks notes that the other men say he stinks and won't let him join them in playing cards. He also states that he is lonely and that the solitude is corrosive to him: he can only spend so much time reading or working alone.

As the story shows, Crooks is lonely too because his experience is inherently more fraught with danger than that of the other hands. When he tries, for example, to order Curley's wife from his room, she threatens to have him lynched if he is uppity. Her humiliating threat carries weight, and Crooks withdraws into himself.

Crooks would love to be part of the George and Lennie's dream of the farm but quickly realizes that he wouldn't be accepted there. Racism sets him apart and diminishes his life.

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Crooks is the lively black stable-hand on the ranch with a crooked back, who is extremely lonely because he suffers from racial discrimination and is segregated from the other white workers on the farm. Since Crooks is the only black worker on the ranch, he is not allowed to live in the bunkhouse and is forced to reside in a small room attached to the barn, where he spends the majority of his time alone. In chapter 4, Crooks laments about his loneliness by telling Lennie,

"S’pose you didn’t have nobody. S’pose you couldn’t go into the bunkhouse and play rummy ‘cause you was black. How’d you like that? S’pose you had to sit out here an’ read books. Sure you could play horseshoes till it got dark, but then you got to read books. Books ain’t no good. A guy needs somebody—to be near him...A guy goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody. Don’t make no difference who the guy is, long’s he’s with you. I tell ya...I tell ya a guy gets too lonely an’ he gets sick" (Steinbeck, 36).

Crooks suffers because he is treated as an outcast and forced to play card games and read books by himself instead of socializing with the other workers. Crooks is the unfortunate victim of racial discrimination and is forced to live separately from the other workers, which is the main reason he is lonely.

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Crooks is an older man whose body is literally bent to the left; he is a "cripple," in Steinbeck's words. He lives by himself in his own bunk in the harness room with a few spartan possessions, and his attitude is aloof and distant from the other men on the ranch. He takes care of the horses on the ranch. 

Crooks is lonely because he is the only African-American man for miles around. While he was born in California, where his father owned a chicken ranch, he has always felt different and unaccepted because of his race. He has become used to being alone and lonely, but he also has an element of bitterness. He relates well to Lennie, though Crooks is initially hostile to Lennie and taunts Lennie by telling him George will never come home. Crooks begins to become excited about living with Lennie and George on the ranch they plan to start, but this excitement is only a temporary break in his loneliness. 

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How does Crooks deal with his loneliness in Of Mice and Men?

Because Crooks is black, the unspoken norms of segregation isolate him. He sleeps in his own room, described as a "little shed" that leans against the barn. At first glance, he seems like little more than an animal. His bed is a "long box filled with straw" and he lives with his medicine bottles mingled on a shelf with the medications for the horses. However, we learn he has magazines, a dictionary, a copy of the California civil code and a few "dirty books" on his shelf, so we can conclude that he is an intelligent man and that one way he deals with his loneliness is through reading.

Crooks has put up a huge number of defenses against getting hurt. He tells Lennie that he's not allowed to sleep in the bunkhouse because he's black, and he can't play cards with the other men because they say he "stinks." His chief coping mechanism is to stay aloof from the others. He says they "stink." But it doesn't take him long to open up to Lennie when he realizes that Lennie won't harm him:

You got George. You know he’s goin’ to come back. S’pose you didn’t have nobody. S’pose you couldn’t go into the bunk house and play rummy ‘cause you was black. How’d you like that? S’pose you had to sit out here an’ read books. Sure you could play horseshoes till it got dark, but then you got to read books. Books ain’t no good. A guy needs somebody—to be near him.” He whined, “A guy goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody. Don’t make no difference who the guy is, long’s he’s with you. I tell ya,” he cried, “I tell ya a guy gets too lonely an’ he gets sick.”

We see here that Crooks' loneliness is eating him alive. He says a little later that it is making him crazy. For a moment, he is even so taken by the idea of George and Lennie's farm and the society it could offer that he offers to go in with them on it. Then reality intrudes and the defenses kick in: he says he doesn't want it after all and it will come to nothing. Crooks' chief method of coping with loneliness and the other pain he carries is to try to crush any illusion he has that things will get better.

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How does Crooks deal with his loneliness in Of Mice and Men?

Steinbeck gives the impression in Chapter 4 that Crooks reads to fight off his loneliness.  In the description of Crooks's room in the barn, Steinbeck writes that

"he had books, too; a tattered dictionary and a mauled copy of the California civil code for 1905.  There were battered magazines and a few dirty books on a special shelf over his bunk" (67).

The condition of the books and magazines--"tattered," "mauled," and "battered" implies that Crooks has mulled over the reading material many times and even has a special place for these possessions when many of his other things are "scattered about the floor."  Also, as Crooks talks to Lennie, he says,

" 'A guy sets alone out here at night, maybe readin' books or thinkin' or stuff like that' " (73).

The reader knows that the reading and "thinkin'" don't satisfy Crooks, but he has no other recourse.  He's not allowed to eat or sleep in the same quarters as the other men, and it seems that only time he gets to communicate with them is when they want to make a bet over him or use him for entertainment.

Of all the characters in the book, Crooks's isolation is the most striking and intense.  Unlike Curley's wife, he has no spouse who even cares where he is or whom he talks to.  Unlike George, he has no one depending on him or listening to him.  Unlike Candy, he has no canine companion.  He cannot even find comfort or companionship with the animals that he tends to, because one of them caused his painful, lasting injury.

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How does Crooks deal with his loneliness in Of Mice and Men?

The black "stable buck," Crooks, who is marginalized from the society of the other men because he is not allowed to sleep in the bunkhouse as they do, spends lonely nights in the barn, where he has fashioned a room of his own near the stalls for the mules. Unlike some of the other bindle stiffs, Crooks is able to read, and he spends many hours in this occupation. Because of the back injury which has awarded him the nickname he has, Crooks spends much time applying liniment to his pained back that was once broken. In addition, Crooks is fastidious, sweeping his meager quarters and straightening things. Even though it is a Saturday night, Crooks "kept his distance and demanded that others keep theirs." In his meager room, a small electric bulb casts a meager light and Crooks reads from one of his books or magazines.

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In Of Mice and Men, Crooks is lonely. What supports that statement?

In the 4th section, or chapter 4, Crooks character is clearly defined. The fact that Crooks has accumulated lots of books shows that he is used to being alone because no one wants to be with him. Being into reading is one way to avoid lonliness. Then, as he begins to talk with Lennie, at first he doesn't want Lennie near him. Lennie really doesn't mean any harm, but Crooks is used to white guys harming him. This guardedness further develops Crooks' lonliness. As you get further into the chapter, you see that Crooks is almost eager to make fun of Lennie because he doesn't have anyone to do that to. He tells Lennie how easy it would be to befriend someone like Lennie because a Lennie wouldn't go tell secrets. He further tells Lennie about his family was alone. He has a few words that really demonstrate his longing for friendship which conversely demonstrates lonliness:

"The thing is, they're talkin' or they're settin' still not talkin'. It don't make no difference, no difference."

Crooks would really like someone to just "set with". But he can't because the guys think he stinks.

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In the novella Of Mice and Men, what is the theme of Crooks's loneliness?

Crooks is the black stable buck character in Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. He takes care of the horses and mules and lives by himself in the barn. Because he is black, he's segregated from the other men on the ranch, who are all white. He is also the victim of racism. The theme of his loneliness revolves around not having another guy around to talk to as well as the prejudice he faces.

He is envious of George and Lennie because they travel around together and have each other as companions, sharing experiences and conversations. Crooks expresses this envy when he's talking to Lennie in his room in the barn in chapter four:

"I seen it over an’ over—a guy talkin' to another guy and it don’t make no difference if he don’t hear or understand. The thing is, they’re talkin’, or they’re settin’ still not talkin’. It don’t make no difference, no difference.” His excitement had increased until he pounded his knee with this hand. “George can tell you screwy things, and it don’t matter. It’s just the talking. It’s just bein’ with another guy. That’s all.” 

Crooks also experiences the loneliness of someone who is considered different. Just as he is dreaming of joining George, Lennie and Candy on the farm, Curley's wife reminds him of his otherness. Like Crooks, she also experiences segregation and is treated as an outsider. It is ironic, then, that she should point out to Crooks that he is inferior and that any attempt on his part to mix with the white world will fail. When he tries to get her out of his room, she lashes out at him:

“Listen, Nigger,” she said. “You know what I can do to you if you open your trap?...Well, you keep your place then, Nigger. I could get you strung up on a tree so easy it ain’t even funny.”

At the end of the chapter Steinbeck paints the picture of Crooks alone in his room. Like Candy, who also loses the dream when Lennie accidentally kills Curley's wife, the reader must assume Crooks will remain lonely.

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