Building up bonds takes a long time, making them strong takes years. Yet they can snap in a moment, almost like a rubber band that has been stretched out too far. As a human being, just like you, I know about friendship. I know about having something dearly. I think that a lot of times, people don’t realize just how much their loved ones actually mean to them until they’re gone. The comfort and luckiness I feel when being with the meaningful people in my life is enough for me to want to continue living and reaching for my dreams. In Of Mice and Men by the Nobel prize awarded American authour John Steinbeck, the great emotions that come with a friendship become clear.
Being a book that narrates a journey of two friends, it’s surprising how much loneliness that’s reflected in the heart of the story. It’s always there, at the bank of the deep green willow creek pool or on in the barn house, sticking around the ranch men’s stiff heads. It gives an aspect of loneliness that means being separated from the rest of the world. It means not being trusted and not being able to share anything with someone else. Even though Lennie and George have a permanent companion, they need to combat the barrier between them and the outside world, which ceils them in a lonely room. This encloses them in a close connection and clarifies the strength of their solidarity to one another. When I started going to the bilingual school of Monza, in Italy, I was confronted with two languages that were completely new and alien-like to me, which for a period kept me from socializing with the rest of the pupils. This created loneliness for me and might actually have strengthened the bonds I had with my family, as I had less connection with the outside world. So in a way loneliness can generate stronger bonds.
Imagine not owning anything except for your clothes – not even a house. All you could do would be to work hard and rely on getting food from your boss. The dream of having an own piece of land and a little cottage in which to live in is a passion that follows George and Lennie along their journey. Of mice and men is a realistically based fiction story about two men during the great depression in America. Differently than most other poor workers at the time who strolled from place to place, they stick together and profit from being two instead of being completely alone. The broad-shouldered Lennie suffers from a mental condition which worsens his memory and makes his interests far away from those of normal men. Although he is as strong as an ox and has the size of a giant, he is at the same time the right opposite of what would be considered as manly. He is irresistibly attracted to soft and cute things, with rabbits topping the chart. Why George, Lennie’s loyal companion, keeps together with Lennie even if he knows he’d be better off without him, is a clue. Yet they roam the country together in search of work. Hiding Lennie’s unwitty backside is a struggle for both George and Lennie himself. When George and Lennie arrive at their new workplace, they need to give a good impression to get hired long enough. Can they really dodge all potential mistakes and build up enough stake to reach their goal: becoming independent with a piece of land of their own?
The life of poor men during 1920’s in California is depicted vividly in the book through accurate slang language and realistic living conditions, giving the story life. That life is unfair is a thought that no-one reading the book can avoid stumbling upon, as the troublesome Lennie always acts so innocently.
It is fascinating to discover the deep crevices of philosophical thoughts running right through this book that is quite simply read. One of those perspectives which drew my attention was – yet again – loneliness, ever-existing in the poor ranch workers live’s. When you move around from place to place without ever fully settling down, loneliness is bound to be. Of mice and men doesn’t just narrate a bunch of guys, it throws their lonely lives into perspective.
“Guys like us are the loneliest men in the world”
Mistrust of strangers appears when the ranch-men meet, seemingly because they are used to keeping to themselves. I find it interesting to see how loneliness affects people. In the same way, as the ranch-men have certain mistrust in strangers, sadly most people in the real world mistrust strangers to some degree. Especially in Sweden, there is a tendency of socializing very little with people that one doesn’t know well. Also, many people are xenophobic, meaning they don’t rely on foreigners or people from other cultures. No-one earns anything out of that, it just creates barriers. In the same way, by cooperating the ranch men can get a lot further, a noticeable example being when Candy offers himself to help out Lennie and George to reach their main life goal, thus giving all three a temporary boost along the way.
Of mice and men is a must read for people with interest about how life could be like in “the old days”!