The Solitaire Metaphor in John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men

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The Solitaire Metaphor in Of Mice and Men

In Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, George Milton is shown many times playing the game of Solitaire, a card game which requires only one man and a pack of playing cards. His companion, Lennie Small is never asked to play cards or other games because George knows emphatically that Lennie is incapable of such a mental task. Although Lennie and George are companions, George has the idea of being "solitaire" to be no longer burdened by Lennie's company. Solitaire, meaning alone, is a metaphor for the loneliness that many of the characters feel in the novel. John Steinbeck shows in Of Mice and Men, that all human beings are essentially alone.

"I ain't got no people. I seen the guys that go around on the ranches alone. That ain't no good. They don't have no fun. After a long time they get mean. They get wantin' to fight all the time... 'Course Lennie's a God damn nuisance most of the time, but you get used to goin' around with a guy an' you can't get rid of him" (45). George proclaims his view on loneliness to give a reason for his connection with Lennie. This connection George has with Lennie makes the two of them unique to the rest of the characters. Many of the men on the ranch have a dream, but only Lennie and George have a chance of obtaining it. Essentially, John Steinbeck wants to show that although George and Lennie have the advantage of being a team, they will never accomplish it because all human beings are in essence, alone. Thus, George's constant playing of the game of solitaire foreshadows his eventual decision to become a solitary man.

John Steinbeck demonstrates loneliness of Crooks, the black handicap. He has a strong difference from the rest of the crew, as he must live in a separate room from the rest of the workers. He attempts to explain this to Lennie, "S'pose you didn't have nobody. S'pose you couldn't go into the bunk house and play rummy 'cause you was black. How'd you like that? S'pose you had to sit out here an' read books.
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