What do we want? How do we get what we want? The question we really should be asking is how can we be happy? All of our lives we strive for happiness. We grasp at things that never really fill our emptiness, our longing for happiness. In John Steinbeck’s novella, Of Mice and Men, almost all of the characters are unhappy, unsatisfied and isolated. Almost. The iconic duo George and Lennie are most likely the most fulfilled characters in the novella. What do they have that the others do not? Well, the only thing they have in common is each other. The road to happiness may be friendship and love. The most isolated, lonely characters are always the most unhappy. Steinbeck shows the dissatisfaction of being unuseful, and the resulting isolation with Candy’s story. For example, when Lennie and George are talking about the farm, Candy tells them, S’pose I went in with you guys, that’d be three hundred an’ fifty bucks I’d put in.I’d make a will an’ leave my share to you guys in case I kick off, ’cause I ain’t got no relatives nor nothing,(59). Candy has been aging out of his usefulness for a while now, and he knows it, and because of the loss of his hand, he cannot work with the other men so he is isolated and lonely, and as a result grasps at this chance to do something useful, to go somewhere where he is not disposable. Throughout the rest of the book, Candy is fully invested in his hope for a life of purpose, a life of companionship. Similarly, Curley’s wife knows nobody cares about her, and expresses her loneliness very openly to Lennie, Candy, and Crooks when they are all left behind when the men went into town: ?Awright, she said contemptuously. Awright, cover ‘im up if ya wanna. Whatta I care? You bindle bums think you’re so damn good. Whatta ya think I am, a kid? I tell ya I could of went with shows. Not just’ one, neither. An’ a guy tol’ me he could put me in pitchers She was breathless with indignation. ”Sat’iday night. Ever’body out doin’ som’pin’. Ever’body! An’ what am I doin’? Standin’ here talkin’ to a bunch of bindle stiffs”a n****r an’ a dum-dum and a lousy ol’ sheep”an’ likin’ it because there ain’t nobody else,’ (78). Steinbeck clearly illustrates the sexist society, where women are so isolated and dehumanized that nobody even cares what her name is. She knows she is made for more, as does the most lonely character in the book: Crooks. He explains the pain of loneliness to Lennie: S’pose you don’t have nobody. S’pose you couldn’t go into the bunkhouse and play rummy ’cause you was black. How’d you like that? S’pose you had to sit in here an’ read books. Books ain’t no good. A guy needs somebody- to be near him A guy goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody,(72). Crooks sees the joy he wants in the friendship of George and Lennie. He can understand that nobody cares about him, and he is jealous of the role they have in each other’s lives. It seems to be in human nature to need somebody. Crooks, Candy and Curley’s wife are all products of a prejudiced society which tells them and everybody else they are not worth anything, especially not attention. Without someone to care for them, they feel hopeless and worthless. Friends and love are something we need. Without them, we are lost to the world.
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