Period 5 English
23 November 2014
Extreme isolation in the form of solitary confinement is known to have devastating effects on the mind, having a strong effect on how people treat others. Unfortunately, this sense of loneliness can often manifest in negativity towards others. In Steinbeck’s novella Of Mice and Men, characters often bring down others as a result of their own isolation. This isolation results in a man using his power to unfairly hurt his workers, a discriminated against worker taking advantage of a mentally-disabled man, and a dissatisfied woman cruelly insulting a lower class worker.
Curley is the boss’s son on the ranch, and as a result, he is given a lot of power and wealth. Curley finds himself isolated from the other ranch workers because of his status and his personal insecurity; this alienation evolves into aggression towards the ranchhands. From the moment Curley is introduced in the novella, he differentiates himself from the other ranch workers by wearing high-heeled boots similar to his father “to prove he was not a laboring man”(20). To Curley, these boots represent power and stature and he wears them to make up for his own inadequacies, since he is the “boss’s son”, and not the boss. Curley is also revealed to hate big guys and is “alla time picking scraps with [them] ... like he’s mad at ‘em because he ain’t a big guy”(26), showing that he gets angry at people who make him feel small because they remind him of his own shortcomings. Lastly, because Curley’s wife is dissatisfied with staying at home all day and “got the eye goin’ all the time on everybody”(51), Curley feels inadequate as a husband. These insecurities result in Curley storming into the bunkhouse demanding to know...
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...ters, one can see that isolation often drives others to inflict negativity upon those even weaker than themselves as a reaction to their own isolation. This pattern is not only exclusive to the strong and the weak, such as Curley and the farmhands, but also to the weak and the even weaker, shown by Crooks and Lennie as well as by Curley’s wife and Crooks. Steinbeck’s portrayal of this negativity stemming from isolation is a pessimistic one, showing how helpless and cruel one can become without company. However, it is important to notice that this isolation is not always wrought upon oneself, like Curley, but is often driven by segregation and mistreatment by others, as shown by Crooks and Curley’s wife. Similarly, Steinbeck realizes that society needs to be more accepting of people, for not doing so only results in a vicious cycle of isolation and even more cruelty.
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