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Upon arrival at the ranch, Steinbeck takes the opportunity to introduce the reader, via the newcomers, to a panoply of characters, all loners for one reason or another: the old, maimed and dispirited Candy, the black, crippled and isolated Crooks, the feisty and arrogant boss’s son, Curley, who is newly and unhappily married, his wife being what the others call a ‘tramp’, and the god-like Slim, to whom all the others look up and to whom they all look for an image to idolise.
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Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of UK Essays. At the time, America was still suffering the grim aftermath of the depression and the itinerant workers who form the basis of the novel were very much within the consciousness of a nation separated by wealth yet driven by the idea of ‘the American dream’.From the first, George is afraid that the aggressive boss’s son, Curley, will cause trouble for himself and Lennie because he is an amateur boxer who sees Lennie’s size as a challenge and is ‘handy’.However, when he is involved in a violent incident with Curley through no fault of his own, Lennie crushes his hand and Slim warns him that if anything is said about it, he will make Curley look a fool, the thing he knows Curley fears most.exhibit signs of desperate isolation, including those who can be said to have settled into a permanent situation.Candy, the only other character (aside from Lennie and George) who has an unconditional love for a fellow creature (in Candy's case, his old and feeble dog), is left utterly bereft when Carlson takes his dog out back and shoots it.They are not related but Lennie’s aunt has brought up George and he has promised her that he will look after Lennie, now she has died.The secret dream they share, of building a life together on a ranch and ‘liv[ing] off the fatta the lan’ is central but the very title of the book, taken from Robert Burns’ poem ‘To a Mouse’ foreshadows the ultimate defeat of their dream, since it speaks of plans going wrong.Steinbeck’s novel is, however, essentially a tale of loneliness, of men struggling alone against a cold, uncaring and faceless destiny.The central protagonists, George and Lennie are, as they are proud to proclaim, different from the others because they have each other.These men were forced to wander from ranch to ranch seeking temporary employment, to live in bunk houses with strangers, and to suffer the abuses of arbitrary bosses. Of course, as George's monologue puts it, "With [George and Lennie] it ain't like that." He and Lennie have found companionship; they watch out for one another.George sums up the misery of this situation at several points during his monologues to Lennie - "Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world. And beyond that, they have a dream of finding a fixed place they could call home, a farm of their own.