IRJE-April 1st

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck is a novel about two working men, George, who’s a sharp man in every way, and Lennie who’s a simple-minded man. They have just arrived at a ranch in central California, where they’ll be working for the next while. They are unpacking their stuff when Slim, walks into the bunkhouse; he’s the leader of the grain team the two will be working on. When getting to know the two new men, Slim asks if they travel around together and then says most of the other men choose to go about alone, but he doesn’t know why. He ponders the idea, saying…

Maybe ever’ body … is scared of each other. (p.36).

This quotation demonstrates the distinction between George and Lennie’s unique relationship and the lonely lives of the other ranch workers. Though George fronts as though he would rather be without Lennie and says he only helps him because he promised Lennie’s aunt Clara that he would protect him, you can still tell they have a deep, complicated friendship, and George enjoys the company when they travel from ranch to ranch looking for work. Slim considers fear of each other to be one reason the other ranch workers choose isolation over companionship. This situation of self-isolation applies to today’s individuals; we accept being lonely and not opening up to others over rejection. We are scared of being judged because of who we are, so, if we self-isolate and choose not to overshare, we can’t be outcasted, but this comes at the cost of friendship and trust.