An Analytical Look at the Themes in Of Mice and Men Upon reading the novel entitled “Of Mice and Men” written by John Steinbeck, a reader will most often notice three themes. These themes are enduring hardship to achieve the American dream, hope and happiness, and the contrast of loneliness and friendship. Included in this essay will be an analysis of these three themes along with direct quotation and some short paraphrasing. The Great Depression was a difficult time for all Americans. The economy was in a terrible state and many were forced to work just to meet the basic needs- food and shelter.
Because of this, people moved around a lot looking for work. This is exactly what George Milton and Lennie Small faced in Of Mice and Men. The two men couldn’t be more different but they traveled from ranch to ranch earning enough to make it through the week. Their dream, however, was to one day have their own farm but George knew all too well that this was the dream of many and only came true a handful of times. As Crooks explains on page 32, “I seen hundreds of men come by on the road an’ on the ranches, with their bindles on their back an’ that same damn thing in their heads . . every damn one of ’em’s got a little piece of land in his head. An’ never a God damn one of ’em ever gets it. Just like heaven. Ever’body wants a little piece of lan’. I read plenty of books out here. Nobody never gets to heaven, and nobody gets no land. ” This type of tragedy is present throughout the novel and shows how hardship was inescapable during this time. Hope is all they have. In the novel, George and Lennie one day hope to own their own farm with crops, animals, and a house.
In the beginning, George knows it’s a farfetched dream but it develops into a possibility as Candy’s money and help is added into the mix. This hope drives George and Lennie to work and focused. It’s used as a bribe to keep Lennie out of trouble. Without this hope, they would fall apart. One thing that makes this realization of crushed dreams even harder is loneliness. An important theme is the contrast of loneliness and friendship that is expressed in the novel through all characters. The men move from place to place and rarely have anyone to look to for companionship because of their lifestyles.
Crooks, another character in the novel, is outcasted because of his black race and is therefore extremely lonely. Curley’s wife is also suffering from loneliness because she is the only woman on Tyler Ranch and longs for attention. Loneliness is present everywhere. Many admit to suffering from loneliness, except for George and Lennie. George is a considerably intelligent hardworking man, while Lennie always manages to find trouble. He is equally hardworking yet has childlike qualities. Despite this, they have a bond that is united closely by their dream of owning a farm and are as close as brothers.
George looks out for Lennie during the entirety of the novel and Lennie in return is a good friend to him. I enjoyed this novel because I found the contrast between the two main characters very interesting and wanted to try to understand why Steinbeck had chosen main characters such as George and Lennie. I was very involved with most aspects of the book particularly the ending. At the end of the novel George shoots Lennie, many could preach and say he did this in vain however I believe this shows how strong the bond was that George and Lennie had.
George shot Lennie for his own good, he couldn’t sit and watch Lennie die a slow cruel death to the hands of the other ranchmen. Instead he put Lennie out of misery in a quick and more humane manner. At first to the reader it seems George may live a better life without Lennie but he really will just end up as one of the other men – without real friends suffering from extreme loneliness and their dream will never come true. If this book has taught me one thing in life – it is that everyone should have a friend; no matter what race, color, or sex everyone should have a companion.