How Does Steinbeck Present the Theme of Loneliness in 'of Mice and Men'?

Steinbeck presents the theme of loneliness through his characters. He does this to make the reader feel empathetic towards these characters so the reader is aware of the impacts that loneliness has. In this way, the reader would change the way they behave in order to prevent the results of loneliness.

Crooks is the loneliest character in the ranch, and this is shown in the 4th section. Firstly, the fact that he is the last character to be introduced suggests that he is isolated from the other men. In addition, Crooks is physically separated from the other workers as he ‘had his bunk in the harness room’ and not in the bunkhouse. This links with the racist attitudes in the 1930s, as black people were seen as inferior to white people, and therefore they had to be separate. In this section, Steinbeck also shows the effects of being lonely. Crooks is described as having ‘pain-tightened lips’, which indicates that he was never allowed to question his position in the ranch. It could also suggest that he hasn’t spoken to anyone for some time as his lips are ‘tightened’. Also, one of the effects of loneliness that Crooks shows is that he is bitter and angry towards anyone who is considered superior to him. When Lennie comes in Crooks’ room, Crooks becomes harsh and gives Lennie a ‘scowl’. However, due to his loneliness, he easily warms to Lennie for company. Crooks tells Lennie to ‘set down’ and his tone of voice has changed to ‘friendly’. Another effect of loneliness is seen when Crooks confesses to Lennie that ‘a guy goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody’. At this moment, the reader becomes aware of the results of racism. This furthers Steinbeck’s purpose of writing his novel, as one of his messages is to work together, and this would mean eliminating any form of discrimination.

In the following section, it is shown that Curley’s wife is just as lonely as everyone else in the ranch. This is the reason why she is constantly seeking attention from the other men....