Loneliness and Companionship by John Steinbeck
In Steinbeck’s Of Mice & Men, loneliness and companionship take a great part in these characters lives. Being a migrant worker was probably the definition of loneliness and companionship. Since everyone is different, they all have different types of loneliness and types of companionship, so they handle those issues differently. For instance, Lennie and George, Curly and his wife, Candy and his dog, and even Crooks all share loneliness and companionship. However, they all deal with it in their own types of ways. Sometimes when people feel lonely they try to find a companion to fill that void, but then they start to feel vulnerable because they are depending their happiness on something that isn’t necessarily permanent.
It’s kind of like when a wife finds out her husband cheated on her, but she still stays with him. So when she feels alone and doesn’t think she can go to her husband… she gets a dog. Getting a dog is filling that void (that her husband once brought her) since she feels she can’t go to him. I mean everyone knows that dogs are man’s best friend. But what if something happened to that dog? Whether it died or ran away, now she’s back to being lonely again.
This is where Candy and his dog come into play. Candy is an old man working at a ranch with nothing but his dog; and he loves his dog! He is lucky to fill that void of loneliness just for a while by having his good ol’ pup. But his companion wasn’t there for very long… bringing him back to the loneliness of being a migrant worker. In most cases… nothing is ever permanent. In other lonely cases, some people feel like they can’t go on about their lives or go back to the good old days because they’re stuck, so they try to find other ways to fill that emotion of loneliness and companionship.
Curly’s wife is a beautiful lady living on a ranch in the country with her not to attentive husband, and she is always surrounded by men. Every man on the ranch knows that Curly’s wife is not to be messed with or they’ll have problems with Curly, but what about her feelings? She has no friends and her husband pays no attention to her. So she tries to fill the emotion of loneliness and companionship by talking to the workers because she knows that will get her husband’s attention and she can have someone to talk to. Curly didn’t understand his wife and maybe if he did she wouldn’t have ended up dead. Loneliness is something that a lot of people like to bury inside and during the Great Depression people were so very lonely… and that ladies and gentlemen can take a toll on someone’s emotions. Crooks was a colored man living in the day and age where African Americans did not have the great casualties as the white folks.
When Crooks felt like he was being treated badly he couldn’t do anything about it, other than get kicked out and who knows who would let him have a job. On top of that he was the only colored person on the ranch so not many people would give him attention. Now when a person is feeling all kinds of different emotions and bottles it up it can make them very bitter and defensive thinking that no one else can understand how they feel. However, Crooks starts to like Lennie because Lennie is a simple minded guy and that is all that Crooks needs for a companion. George and Lennie show the reader about companionship than loneliness more than you think, but you have to look outside of the picture. At first Steinbeck made it seem that George was just there for Lennie because Lennie wouldn’t last long on his own, but in reality they both needed each other.
George needed Lennie as much as Lennie needed him because without Lennie, George would be like the majority of the workers… alone. George has that sudden realization that by the end of the book when his companion was taken away from him. Loneliness is not something we would like to share but it is. All of us at one point have felt alone, and that is how Steinbeck pulls his audience in. Steinbeck shows us that we all have experienced loneliness and we can find that certain temporary companion in time, whether it’s a person, a feeling or even an object.
That companion might not be there for a while, but we make it count.