The setting of the novel in the great depression (1929 – 1939) contributes to Crooks’s situation as it is 70 years after the abolishment of slavery but at this time the Negroes were still treated like dirt in California, and the attitudes of the workers reflect the attitudes of the majority of people in America at this time.
Like women were treated as possessions so were black people In a way the situations of Curley’s wife and Crooks are similar, but then Stienbeck starts to show you that Crooks is treated much worse as the opinions of the men go past name calling and they completely isolate Crooks, and even Curley’s wife treats Crooks like he is less important than her. ‘She turned to him in scorn. ‘Listen, Nigger,’ Curley and the workers picks on Curley’s wife so she picks on Crooks so then Crooks picks on Lennie. Lennie doesn’t pick on anyone because he doesn’t need to pick on anyone, as he is perfectly happy because he has George.
This shows that Crooks is completely isolated, when Lennie goes into Crooks’s room he is absolutely overjoyed but Crooks has to hide his happiness with the way he is supposed to react when someone comes to talk with him because he has learnt to be cautious because he doesn’t have friends so he acts defensively all the time. ‘I ain’t wanted in the bunk house, and you ain’t wanted in my room. ‘ Crooks is completely and utterly isolated almost so he is becoming nasty when someone is trying to be nice as he is always on his own and everyone is always nasty to him.
‘A guy goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody. Don’t make no difference who the guy is, long’s he’s with you. ‘ ‘I tell ya a guy gets too lonely an’ he gets sick. ‘ By sick Crooks means mean and Crooks is getting a little mean, you see this in ch4 where he is trying to show Lennie what it is like to be lonely because Lennie has never really been lonely because he’s always had either his aunt Clara or George, but at the same time Crooks is showing his mean side and Stienbeck tells us this by things like; ‘Crooks pressed forward some kind of private victory. ‘
‘Crooks face lighted with pleasure in his torture’ Lennie is different from the other workers in two ways; firstly he is not quite all there and needs guidance all the time, and secondly he is the only person on the ranch who is not lonely because he has got George and in his mind that is all he needs. The best laid plans ‘of mice and men’ were Lennie’s dream, but in reality all Lennie wanted to do was just tend the rabbits so it was a very simplistic dream which was easily achievable if it wasn’t so hard to get land, ‘… nobody never gets no land. ‘
The dream was never going to become true because inevitably Lennie would end up in big trouble and jeopardise the dream for George. The time at which the novel is set would make Lennie feel very lonely if he didn’t have George as he would be either locked away into a mental asylum or killed for getting into trouble. George travelling around with Lennie has made George quite lonely, as it is definitely a one-way partnership, with Lennie reaping all the benefits and George not being able to settle down anywhere as if Lennie does something wrong they have to move.
‘You can’t keep a job and you lose me ever’ job I get’ ‘You get in trouble. You do bad things I got to get you out’ Although the men respect Slim he might be lonely because of his position and the way that nearly all the people that are on this ranch are outcasts in one way or another, and Slim seems to be the only one who is really a average guy that doesn’t have anything holding him back, this might make Slim lonely. However, Stienbeck doesn’t really tell the reader about Slim very much so we can only assume about Slim most of the time.
The way Whit wants to chat and gossip all the time suggests the normal day to day life of these workers away from the ranch is very lonely, so when they get to know people they want to talk, chat and be with a friend constantly, when they can. As Crooks says in ch4, ‘I tell ya a guy gets too lonely an’ he gets sick. ‘ Carlson’s callous indifference reflects this, as he has been too lonely for too long he takes it out on others around him. In ch2 when he keeps constantly pressures Candy into shooting his dog, you see the real Carlson and how mean and callous he is.
As well as callous Carlson is insensitive and we are shown this in the final chapter after George has killed Lennie Carlson shows no sympathy. ‘An’ you got it away from him and you took it an’ you killed him? ‘ In ‘Of Mice and Men’ all the characters are lonely in one way or another and this loneliness is brought about by other factors, mainly the time and place in which the novel is set. Other ways in which loneliness is brought to some characters is because of racism and sexism, although these two factors are brought about by the time and place in which the novel is set and the culture in which it is set in.
In the future some characters will get lonelier, like George who is becoming the very thing he has been so different from his entire time with Lennie, George will, ‘… work my month an’ I’ll take my fifty bucks an’ I’ll stay all night in some lousy cat house. ‘ ‘An’ then I’ll come back an’ work another month an’ I’ll have fifty bucks more. ‘ Curley will get lonelier, even if only temporarily, because now his wife is dead he will have no one to talk to, except his farther, as none of the workers like him as he is always mean, callous and nasty to them.
Candy will also get lonelier as he will inevitably get canned and he will have nowhere to go now that the ‘dream’ is shattered. Crooks will not get lonelier or less lonely but stay sort of the same, although I don’t think he could get any lonelier than he already is, unless Slim and the boss stopped talking or interacting with him. The other workers on the ranch will slowly get less lonely as time goes on because they will become closer and closer friends with each other. However they will all probably move on and stay lonely.