Isolation and Loneliness

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Of Mice and Men thrives on the notion that everyone is isolated, and everyone seems to get along quite well together by talking about how isolated they are. Isolation in this novella is much more an abstract concept than a reality – the men are constantly together and chatting. It’s the specter of having to move, to hit the open road again, make new friends, new enemies, and keep finding yourself all over again that seems to plague the men. These transitions (and having to go at them alone, by nature of the transient migrant worker lifestyle) are enough to make a guy feel isolated, even when he’s surrounded by people.


'A guy sets alone out here at night, maybe readin’ books or thinkin’ or stuff like that. Sometimes he gets thinkin’, an’ he got nothing to tell him what’s so an’ what ain’t so. Maybe if he sees somethin’, he don’t know whether it’s right or not. He can’t turn to some other guy and ast him if he sees it too. He can’t tell. He got nothing to measure by. I seen things out here. I wasn’t drunk. I don’t know if I was asleep. If some guy was with me, he could tell me I was asleep, an’ then it would be all right. But I jus’ don’t know.'

'"Well, we ain’t got any," George exploded. "Whatever we ain’t got, that’s what you want. God a’mighty, if I was alone I could live so easy. I could go get a job an’ work, an’ no trouble. No mess at all, and when the end of the month come I could take my fifty bucks and go into town and get whatever I want. Why, I could stay in a cathouse all night. I could eat any place I want, hotel or any place, and order any damn thing I could think of. An’ I could do all that every damn month. Get a gallon of whisky, or set in a pool room and play cards or shoot pool." Lennie knelt and looked over the fire at the angry George. And Lennie’s face was drawn in with terror. "An’ whatta I got," George went on furiously. "I got you! You can’t keep a job and you lose me ever’ job I get. Jus’ keep me shovin’ all over the country all the time." '

'LENNIE "If you don’ want me I can g off in the hills an’ find a cave. I can go away any time." GEORGE "No—look! I was jus’ foolin’, Lennie. ’Cause I want you to stay with me." '

'BOSS "I said what stake you got in this guy? You takin’ his pay away from him?"
GEORGE "No, ‘course I ain’t. Why you think I’m sellin’ him out?"
BOSS "Well, I never seen one guy take so much trouble for another guy. I just like to know what your interest is." '

'"A guy on a ranch don’t never listen nor he don’t ast no questions." '

'Slim looked through George and beyond him. "Ain’t many guys travel around together," he mused. "I don’t know why. Maybe ever’body in the whole damn world is scared of each other." '

' "I seen the guys that go around on the ranches alone. That ain’t no good. They don’t have no fun. After a long time they get mean. They get wantin’ to fight all the time." '

'Lennie smiled helplessly in an attempt to make friends.

Crooks said sharply, "You got no right to come in my room. This here’s my room. Nobody got any right in here but me."'

'"I was born right here in Southern California. My old man had a chicken ranch, ‘bout ten acres. The white kids come to play at our place, an’ sometimes I went to play with them, and some of them was pretty nice. My ‘ol man didn’t like that. I never knew till long later why he didn’t like that. But I know now." He hesitated, and when he spoke again his voice was softer. "There wasn’t another colored family for miles around. And now there ain’t a colored man on this ranch an’ there’s jus’ one family in Soledad." '