.. hey exclude people who do not fit their norm, such as Curley for being short, Lennie for being retarded, Candy for being old, Crooks for being black, and Curley’s wife for being a woman. Between themselves, they expect strength, distance and independence, and are uncomfortable with emotions. This intolerance and isolation cause loneliness for all the characters in this novel. This social power group oppresses and isolates Curley, Lennie and Candy because they are different, even though they are white. Lennie is very strong and big but his mind is like a child’s, so the men don’t respect him as an equal. For example, George explains to Slim that he, “Used to play jokes on [Lennie] cause he was too dumb to take care of ‘imself” Lennie does not take part in the activities the workers do in their spare time. Lennie does not go to town with the men.
In Weed, Lennie gets in trouble because the people don’t understand his problem. They react with anger instead of understanding. George explains to Slim, “Cause he ain’t mean…like what happened in Weed-” Candy is afraid that he will have nowhere to go soon because he is old: “I won’t have no place to go, an’ I can’t get no jobs.” Candy knows that society doesn’t value or care about people who can’t work. Society rejects them because they are no longer useful. Carlson shows this when he says about Candy’s dog, ” He ain’t no good to you, Candy.
An’ he ain’t no good himself. Why’n’t you shoot him, Candy? Candy knows he is like his dog; an old man is almost useless. He knows how they will discard them. He’s no longer useful: “They says he wasn’t no good to himself nor nobody else. When they came here I wish’t somebody shoot me.” Curley feels excluded from society because he is too short. He hates big men because big men automatically get into the social & powerful group.
Candy comments to George that “Curley’s like a lot of little guys. He hates big guys. He’s all the time picking scraps with big guys. Kind of like he’s mad at them because he ain’t a big guy” Curley shows this about himself when he is upset and angry when he meets Lennie for the first time. Curley shows his extreme insecurity in the bunkhouse as Slim and Carlson are not afraid of him.
Curley is afraid losing his power of intimidation. He notices that Lennie is weak and afraid, and turns his anger on Lennie. The reader sees Curley is insecure because Curley continues to attack Lennie even though Lennie doesn’t even protect himself or fight back. Each man is rejected by the norm, and is lonely. Black men are not the only people who are victims of intolerance and the loneliness it causes. The social power group oppresses Crooks because he is black.
The boss gets angry at Crooks anytime the boss is upset. Candy explains, ” The boss gives him hell when he’s mad.” Only at Christmas Crooks is allowed into the bunkhouse. When he is, Smitty starts a fight with him, even though Crooks is crippled. Crooks knows he is not important in society because he is black. He explains this to Lennie by calling himself a negro.
Crooks promises if he had a chance to work for something, he would, such as sharing the little farm with George, Lennie, and Candy: ” I ain’t so cripped I can’t work like a dog if I want to” Crooks remembers how little power he has when Curley’s wife warns him,”Well, you keep your place then, Negro. I could get you strung up on a tree so easy it ain’t even funny” As a black man, Crooks has no chance against the social power group. The white men would kill Crooks because he is black. The reader sees this as, “Crooks had reduced himself to nothing” Because the white people require Crooks to stay in his own group, he is lonely. Women are also victims of intolerance and loneliness. Curley’s wife dreamed of being a movie star, but the man who promised he would help her never wrote to her .
As a woman, during the depression, she has no choice but to marry someone who can support her. Society gives jobs and independence to men, and women have no power. She is on the bottom of society. Her marriage to Curley is a disaster because he only cares about himself. He isn’t interested in her at all, “Swell guy, ain’t he? Spends all his time saying what he’s gonna do to guys he don’t like, and he don’t like nobody” Curley’s wife understands that all men think she is an object.
She uses her beauty to attract men so they will talk to her: “She put her hands behind her back and leaned against the door frame so that her body was thrown forward” Curley’s wife needs friends and people to talk to. She tries to find friends, but everyone turns her away. Curley is jealous and treats he like a possession to be guarded, but his wife is frustrated: “‘What’s the matter with me?’ she cried. ‘Ain’t I got right to talk to nobody?'” Curley’s wife is isolated because she is the only woman on the farm, and is kept out of the social power group, so she is terribly lonely. Even the normal white workers on the farm are lonely because they isolate themselves from each other. Slim explains that all the men are afraid to show their feelings and be close to others: “Ain’t many guys travel around together. I don’t know why. Maybe ever’body in the whole darn world is scared of each other”.
Slim describes how the workers choose to be lonely: “I hardly never seen two guys together. You know how the hands are, they just come in and get their bunk and work a month, and then they quit and go out alone. Never seem to give a darn about nobody” George and Lennie know that they are lonely like most workers: “Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world. They got no family. They don’t belong no place …
they ain’t got nothing to look ahead to” At the end of the novel, Carlson shows how men shut themselves off and hide their feelings, when he doesn’t even know George is sad: “Now, what the heck you suppose is eatin’ them two guys?” The white men in the society power group choose loneliness because they are afraid of showing their feelings and fears. Intolerance and fear exist everywhere in the world, which leads to loneliness in “Of Mice and Men”. Loneliness has many causes. The workers fear showing their feelings to each other. They cast out people who are different or weak, such as Curley, Candy, Lennie, Crooks and Curley’s wife.
The author shows the reader that everyone causes loneliness in society. Maybe when people understand this about real life , they will be able to end loneliness.