Discrimination and physical separation from others often causes isolation. One of the themes in the book Of Mice and Men written by John Steinbeck is isolation. The book takes place on a ranch where most of the characters are isolated. Although the two main characters George and Lennie are not isolated due to their strong companionship, the idea of isolation in the story is developed through three minor characters, Crooks, Curley’s wife, and Candy in different ways. Crooks is discriminated by others due to his race, Curley’s wife is isolated due to her gender, and Candy is physically isolated from others. Not only do the factors of these characters separate them from others, but also the setting in the book causes the additional loneliness for these characters.
Crooks being mistreated due to his race by other characters in the ranch underlines the theme of isolation. As Lennie intrudes Crook’s room, he quickly demands Lennie to “get outta his room. He ain’t wanted in the bunkhouse, and Lennie ain’t wanted in his room” (68). The use of dialogue reveals Crooks’ displeased attitude towards the fact that he isn’t wanted in the bunkhouse. In addition, despite Lennie’s friendliness, Crooks still has a defensive attitude towards him indicating his habit of blocking people out. Furthermore, when Crooks demands Curley’s wife to leave his place, she warns him “to keep his place,” and that she “can get him strung up on a tree so easy it ain’t even funny” (81). Crooks then answers, “yes ma’am.” Through use of diction of “yes ma’am”, his vulnerability as a black man is shown as that was all he could say when he was threatened that he would be lynched with very harsh derogatory terms. Thus, there was a clear line drawn between the two races, as Crooks could not even talk back to a woman. Ultimately, because he is discriminated and separated from others due to his race, it is clear that Crooks is isolated from others.
Since Curley’s wife is the only woman in the ranch, she is discriminated by the other workers. Not only do the people on the ranch try to avoid her because she is the wife of the boss’s son, but also because she is the only woman. Isolation towards Curley’s wife is evident in the scene where George warns Lennie not to ‘”even take a look at that bitch. I don’t care what Curley’s wife says and what she does.'” (32) The author’s use of diction on “bitch” reveals the social position of women back then. The word “bitch,” which is usually used to refer to female dogs is used on Curley’s wife. This shows that people put women as the same status as animals. Therefore, we can see that Curley’s wife is isolated from others. In addition, when Curley was looking for his wife, he comes in to the bunkhouse and asks the workers why they didn’t ‘”tell Curley’s wife to stay the hell home where she belongs'” (62). Despite Curley is her husband, he still thinks that women should stay home and do house chores. Not only is Curley’s wife socially isolated from others, but physically isolated because Curely doesn’t give the permission for her to leave the house usually. Therefore, it is clear how Curley’s wife by being separated from others due to her gender. In conclusion, because Curley’s wife is discriminated by the other characters in the ranch due to her gender, she is considered as an isolated character in the book.
Isolation is lastly revealed through Candy’s physical separation and disability due to his aging. When George and Lennie talks about their dream, Candy suggests that he would “make a will an’ leave his share to them in case he kicks off, ’cause he ain’t got no relatives or nothing…” (58). When Candy begs to join George and Lennie’s journey and in will to share his money, it further adds on to his loneliness through isolation from others as he is in desperate need of companionship. Furthermore, Candy’s reliance on the old dog, his only companion, shows how isolated he is. When people in the bunkhouse suggest killing the dog, Candy strongly refuses because the dog was the only thing left for him. However, Candy finally gives in and lets Carlson to shoot the old dog. The death of the dog put Candy in a misery as he “continued to stare at the ceiling. Then he rolled slowly over and faced the wall and lay silent” (49). The dog’s death greatly contributes to Candy’s isolation. Although Candy’s dog is useless, because his dog is the only thing that is left for him, it takes a very big part of Candy’s life. Due to his dog’s death, Candy has become even more isolated than previously. Therefore, it is clear that Candy is physically isolated from others.
Throughout the story, the idea of isolation is clearly shown through the three characters Crooks, Curley’s wife, and Candy. Crooks, isolated due to his race, Curley’s wife, discriminated because of her gender, and Candy physically isolated from others. Although these three minor characters in the book are all isolated in different ways, isolation is still clearly shown through each and one of them.