In novel of mice & man I am going to look at how loneliness affects many of the characters, and Steinbeck seems to show that it is a natural and inevitable result of the kind of life they are forced to lead.
The itinerant workers are caught in a trap of loneliness – they never stay in one place long enough to form permanent relationships.
The main characters that are affected by loneliness are Candy, Crooks & Curley’s wife. The way loneliness affects is evident in how Steinbeck uses the dog as the metaphor for candy’s fear for his future. Candy has seen how something becomes useless in the ranch inevitably destroyed. `Jus as soon as I can’t swamp out no bunk houses they’ll put me on the county’. This sentence by the candy shows how devastated he was when his dog got shoot & really worried about his future. Candy has no female company his greatest friend was a dog who got shoot because he was old. He swamps the bunk house on his own while other workers are working on the field because he is disabled old & not much useful. He is trapped on the ranch, unable to move on while other workers come & go.
I think Crooks is even lonelier than candy. The main reason for that is his colour difference. He is black & only black person on the ranch. He gets discriminated by every one in the ranch `when I am sayin something why its jus nigger sayin it’. This shows that when he says something he always gets discriminated by everyone calling him nigger. He has to sleep on his own in his room; he is not allowed to play rummy. `they play card in there but I can’t because I m black’. He is not allowed to play card because he is black. When everyone plays horseshoes in the morning he is not allowed to play because he is black & he defeats everyone in the horseshoes. He is only allowed to play in the night. As a result of the discrimination against him, Crooks has become quite bitter. This is why when Lennie and Candy tell him about their plan to buy a house he reacts with scorn and disbelief. But he is quit intelligent he is most experienced worker on the ranch & his job involves good skills. He always reads books.
Another lonely character is Curley”s wife. Newly married and in a strange place, she is forbidden by Curley to talk to anyone but him. She is trapped in loveless marriage. She only married to Curley to get away from home. .At first, Curley”s wife is described to the reader through the comments of the men on the ranch. “He ain”t a nice fella”, she tells that to Lennie. She is very flirtatious with the men. She tries to seek he men’s attention she constantly approaches the ranch hands on the excuse of looking for Curley. Men try to avoid her so as not to upset Curley. She has been let down by the most men she has known. “Gonna put her in the Movies” and would write to her as “soon as he got back to Hollywood”. We see her loneliness; she is kind to Lennie; she has a dream that she is not likely to achieve, like the other men on the ranch, and finally, Steinbeck”s description of her dead body seems designed to make us see her as a victim of life.
The itinerant workers in the ranch are so lonely they haven’t got a life partner, they never stay in one place long enough to form permanent relationships. They are always moving from one place to other. In the ranch they have to work very hard 12 hours a day. They are paid lot less then they should do. The owner of the ranch is always cruel to them. They haven’t got their own houses. They all have a dream that they are not likely to achieve. For some of the itinerant workers life is like hell.