Mr. and Mr. Lonely
According to many therapists, being lonely or isolated can make a person’s body feel attacked. The novel, Of Mice and Men, focuses a substantial amount on friendship, yet features figures of isolation like Candy and Crooks. Best friends, Lennie and George, arrive on the ranch where they meet Candy and Crooks. They are curious of their lives because they do not have friends or even family. In John Steinbeck’s novel Of Mice and Men, Candy and Crooks are obviously the most prominent characters that symbolize isolation.
The first character that is a symbol of isolation is Crooks. The main reasons he is isolated is because of his skin color. During the Great Depression, African Americans like Crooks were not seen as equals, and lower than everyone else. Discrimination in the early 1930s was sadly still happening. Crooks says, “If I say something, why it’s just the nigger sayin’ it” (Steinbeck 70). Crooks even lives away from everyone else, isolated from the others. The other ranch hands feel he does not deserve to bunk with the rest of them. “I aint wanted in the bunk house” (Steinbeck 68). The other ranch hands forcing Crooks to live in the barn demonstrates the society’s view of blacks as lesser than, or subhuman. They see Crooks more fit to sleep with animals rather than humans. He has been by himself for so long that he has accumulated so much. Steinbeck describes his room in the barn having many items and things to use for working with the horses. Also, the books he reads are one of the only ways he can escape. Further, his severe separation from the others only contributes to his isolation.
Secondly, the old swamper, Candy is a symbol of isolation. Candy is isolated because of two reasons, one being his old age and the other being his disability. He lost his right hand after getting it caught in a piece of machinery and as a result, he is forced to stay behind. In Christianity, the right hand is very important. It symbolizes hope and love, something Candy does not have. He has lost the meaning of life and his right hand. The other ranch hands feel he is not important and is useless because of his old age. “A guy on a ranch don’t never listen nor he don’t ast no questions” (Steinbeck 67). Also, Candy’s attitude towards himself traps him into a place of solitude. He thinks of himself as an old man that is hanging on to his last few years. His attitude towards himself places him into isolation more than his missing hand does.
Contrasting with Candy and Crooks, the best friend duo, George and Lennie are opposites. The friendship between George and Lennie is something incomparable to most friendships today. Unlike Candy and Crooks, George and Lennie have dreams and aspirations. They want to have a farm with rabbits scattered throughout. “We’re gonna get a little place” (Steinbeck 105). They’re hope for a better future is contagious, for Candy and Crooks, throughout the novel, decide to take part in the American dream. Also, another character reader may say is isolated is Curley’s wife. Although this may be true, Curley’s wife is obviously married and is not isolated for her race, age, or any disabilities.
The Great Depression was a time of prejudice present in Steinbeck’s novel. Candy and Crooks are examples of isolation brought by the time period. They face issues like racism, ageism, and ableism. Candy and Crooks realized their isolation, and take specific actions towards them, depending on the situation and role in society. Even Steinbeck’s use of the city, Soledad is also significant, for it means loneliness in Spanish. In conclusion, Candy and Crooks are the brightest symbols of isolation in Of Mice and Men. To sum up, Crooks is isolated because of his skin color and race, and Candy is isolated because of his old age and his disability. Furthermore, Candy and Crooks are the most isolated because characters who also may claim to be isolated by readers, George and Lennie are best friends and Curley’s wife is married. On the outside, Steinbeck describes Candy and Crooks as normal people but, on the inside, it is a constant battlefield.
Mr. and Mr. Lonely