Intolerance is human nature; people who are different from or weaker than the norm
are victims of intolerance and become isolated and lonely. Those who are in the
norm are expected to be strong and not show their feelings. In Of Mice And Men, by
John Steinbeck, the social power group is the white, male workers on the farm.


They are younger men, still useful, reasonably intelligent, and average-sized. They
exclude people who do not fit their norm, such as Curley for being short, Lennie for
being retarded, Candy for being old, Crooks for being black, and Curley’s wife for
being a woman. Between themselves, they expect strength, distance and
independence, and are uncomfortable with emotions. This intolerance and isolation
cause loneliness for all the characters in this novel.

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This social power group oppresses and isolates Curley, Lennie and Candy because
they are different, even though they are white. Lennie is very strong and big but his
mind is like a child’s, so the men don’t respect him as an equal. For example,
George explains to Slim that he, “Used to play jokes on Lennie cause he was too
dumb to take care of ‘imself”(p. 40). Lennie does not take part in the activities the
workers do in their spare time. Lennie does not go to town with the men. In Weed,
Lennie gets in trouble because the people don’t understand his problem. They react
with anger instead of understanding. George explains to Slim, “Cause he ain’t
mean….like what happened in Weed-“(p. 40). Candy is afraid that he will have
nowhere to go soon because he is old: “I won’t have no place to go, an’ I can’t get
no jobs.” (p. 60) Candy knows that society doesn’t value or care about people who
can’t work. Society ejects them because they are no longer useful. Carlson shows
this when he says about Candy’s dog, ” He ain’t no good to you, Candy. An’ he ain’t
no good himself. Why’n’t you shoot him, Candy? (p. 44). Candy knows he is like
his dog; an old man is almost useless. He knows how they will discard them he’s no
longer useful: “They says he wasn’t no good to himself nor nobody else. When they
can me here I wish’t somebody shoot me.” (p. 60) Curley feels excluded from
society because he is too short. He hates big men because big men automatically get
into the social power group. Candy comments to George that “Curley’s like a lot of
little guys. He hates big guys. He’s alla time picking scraps with big guys. Kind of
like he’s mad at them because he ain’t a big guy” (p. 26). Curley shows this about
himself when he is hostile and angry when he meets Lennie for the first time. Curley
shows his extreme insecurity in the bunkhouse as Slim and Carlson are not afraid of
him. Curley is afraid losing his power of intimidation. He notices that Lennie is weak
and afraid, and turns his anger on Lennie. The reader sees Curley is insecure
because Curley continues to attack Lennie even though Lennie doesn’t even protect
himself or fight back. Each man is rejected by the norm, and is lonely. White men
are not the only people who are victims of intolerance and the loneliness it causes.


The social power group oppresses Crooks because he is black. The boss gets angry
at Crooks anytime the boss is upset. Candy explains, ” The boss gives him hell when
he’s mad.” (p.20) Only at Christmas is Crooks allowed into the bunkhouse. When
he is, Smitty starts a fight with him, even though Crooks is crippled. Crooks knows
he is not important in society because he is black. He explains this to Lennie: “This is
just a nigger talkin’, an’ a busted-back nigger. So it don’t mean nothing, see?” Crooks
promises if he had a chance to work for something, he would, such as sharing the
little farm with George, Lennie, and Candy: ” I ain’t so cripped I can’t work like a
son-of-a-bitch if I want to” (p.76). Crooks remembers how little power he has when
Curley’s wife warns him, “Well, you keep your place then, Nigger. I could get you
strung up on a tree so easy it ain’t even funny” (p.81). As a black man, Crooks has
no chance against the social power group. The white men would kill Crooks
because he is black. The reader sees this as, “Crooks had reduced himself to
nothing” (p.81). Because the white people require Crooks to stay in his own group,
he is lonely. Women are also victim of intolerance and loneliness.


Women are also victims of intolerance, which leads to loneliness. Curley’s wife
dreamed of being a movie star, but the man who promised he would help her never
wrote to her . As a woman, during the depression, she has no choice but to marry
someone who can support her. Society gives jobs and independence to men, and
women have no power. She is on the bottom of society. Her marriage to Curley is a
disaster because he only cares about himself. He isn’t interested in her at all, “Swell
guy, ain’t he? Spends all his time saying what he’s gonna to guys he don’t like, and he
don’t like nobody” (p.78). Curley’s wife understands that all men think she is an
object. She uses her beauty to attract men so they will talk to her: “She put her
hands behind her back and leaned against the door frame so that body was thrown
forward” (p.31). Curley’s wife needs friends and people to talk to. She tries to find
friends, but everyone turns her away. Curley is jealous and treats he like a
possession to be guarded, but his wife is frustrated: “‘What’s the matter with me?’
she cried. ‘Ain’t I got right to talk to nobody?'” (p.31). Curley’s wife is isolated
because she is the only woman on the farm, and is kept out of the social power
group, so she is terribly lonely.


Even the normal white workers on the farm are lonely because they isolate
themselves from each other. Slim explains that all the men are afraid to show their
feelings and be close to others: “Ain’t many guys travel around together. I don’t
know why. Maybe ever’body in the whole damn would is scared of each other”
(p.35). Slim describes how the workers choose to he lonely: “I hardly never seen
two guys together. You know how the hands are, they just come in and get their
bunk and work a month, and then they quit and go out alone. Never seem to give a
damn about nobody” (p.39). George and Lennie know that they are lonely like most
workers: “Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world.


They got no family. They don’t belong no place …. they ain’t got nothing to look
ahead to” (p .13,14). At the end of the novel, Carlson shows how men shut
themselves off and hide their feelings, when he doesn’t even know George is sad:
“Now, what the hell you suppose is eatin’ them two guys?” (p.107) The white men in
the society power group choose loneliness because they are afraid of showing their
feeling and fears.


Intolerance and fear exist everywhere in humanity, which leads to loneliness in Of
Mice and Men. Loneliness has many causes. The workers fear showing their feelings
to each other. They cast out people who are different or weak, such as Curley,
Candy Lennie, Crooks and Curley’s wife. The author shows the reader that
everyone causes loneliness in society. Maybe when people understand this about
real life , they will be able to end loneliness.


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