The Irony of Dreams and Loneliness
Of Mice and Men is an extraordinary tale of a unique friendship that deals with many aspects of human responsibility and love. “The characters in Of Mice and Men are specifically necessitated by and respond directly to the limitations placed on their lives, and [this] story is meant to illuminate the social conditions which Steinbeck seeks to critique” (par.4). The significant concerns illustrated by Steinbeck in this heart-wrenching story are the pain of loneliness, the trials of friendship, and the fragility of dreams.
Loneliness is present throughout Of Mice and Men, and it is a struggle faced by all of the characters in varying degrees. Steinbeck makes it apparent that this solitude is a direct result of the cruel life led by ranch workers in the 1930’s, and each character does what is necessary to combat the pain of loneliness that plagues them. Bloom notes, “the book is full of loneliness of these people—Old Candy, who has only his dog; Crooks, who is willing to work for nothing if he can only have someone with whom to talk; Curley’s wife, who apparently lacks even a name” (par. 14). Even Slim, who seems comfortable and confidant with his life, displays his observation by saying, “Maybe everybody in the whole damn world is scared of each other” (Steinbeck 35). Steinbeck spares only George and Lennie the anguish of loneliness that is prevalent throughout the book; they have each other and the hopeful dream of their farm. According to Scarseth, “What is ennobling in this tragedy […] is the revelation of a way beyond that loneliness and meanness and fighting, a way to rise above our human limitations: Two men-- George and Lennie—who have nothing else, do have each other, […] and they do have their dream” (par. 26). As George, Lennie, Candy, and Crooks imagine the endless possibilities of the dream, their loneliness subsides, at least for a short time.
The title chosen by Steinbeck makes immediate reference to the delicate...