Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck: The Importance of Companionship

This post assumes you have already read Of Mice and Men as it contains spoilers.

John Steinbeck’s social realism novella Of Mice and Men portrays the necessity for companionship in one’s life, especially migrant workers during the Great Depression. For instance, when Carlson kills Candy’s dog, the men feel anxious about how Candy will react while Candy feels helpless that he has lost his only companion which illustrates the need for friendship between individuals.

Typical migrant workers do not spend the day socializing, but rather traveling from place to place to earn money. They then spend it in foolish ways as they have no future which shows the significant need for fellowship in these particular individuals. Candy for instance had the companionship of his dog but was then pressured into allowing Carlson to kill it as it had no purpose due to old age. While his dog is being shot, Candy is “staring” at the ceiling and then “rolled slowly over and faced the wall and lay silent” after the “shot sounded in the distance” (49). Candy feels depressed, hopeless, and wishes to mourn in private. With the death of his dog, he has no family or friends left and it can be difficult not having someone to confide in or provide for. Even the rest of the men in the room are anxious as George “rippled the edge of the deck nervously” (49). This reveals that they feel guilty as they know life can be harsh without a companion. For example, George and Lennie have each other to keep them sane and they have a future together. The “silence” (49) in the room shows the situation is uncomfortable between all of the men. Candy is now all alone and does not have anybody.

Having no one to turn to in life’s hardest moments can have a severe impact on one’s mental health. People’s purpose in life and their health are defined based on the companionships they form.

-Abby V.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded from Overdrive.

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