Get help from the best in academic writing.

The Tragedy of Isolation Exposed in John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men

The Tragedy of Isolation Exposed in Of Mice and Men

The Great Depression of the 1930’s was a tumultuous time. Hundreds of thousands of people lost their homes and means of unemployment. Whole families would roam the country, desperate for food and a place to rest, struggling to survive. There were also many men who tramped across America alone, searching for menial jobs to keep them alive another month. John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men details the lives of several such men and shows that the principle quest of so many was not money or things that money can buy. Rather, whether they were travelling from one job to another or employed in some capacity, the vast majority of the wandering laborers were searching for human companionship and reassurance that they were not alone to fend for themselves- something very few of them actually found.

It was not merely the migrant workers who felt detached form the world- even the boss’s son Curley was manifestly desperate for real companionship. Curley’s biggest obstacle was himself, as he possessed simultaneously an enormous ego and very little self-esteem. As the son of the owner of a large ranch, Curley had considerable power over the men who worked there, and he chose to abuse that power rather that try to befriend those who were beneath him. Unable to realize that constantly picking fights would do little to combat his loneliness, Curley pounced upon everyone who looked at him funny as an excuse to vent his frustration at being friendless and hated. He could not love his wife because that would mean breaking down the barrier of pride he had constructed, and so he perpetuated the cycle of loneliness both in himself and others.

And what of Curley’s wife? Nameless, she epitomizes the wife displayed as a trophy by a status-conscious husband, whether he is a prominent politician, a millionaire, or the son of a ranch owner. It is tragic that two individuals so alone in the world could be thrown together by fate and succeed only in strengthening each others’ isolation, and that is often the case. Curley lived his life picking fights or discussing future ones, while his wife, desperate for meaningful attention, flirts with all the ranch hands. She sought out Lennie and the others in Crooks’s room for conversation in desperation, hoping for companionship yet dooming it from the start by her arrogance and unwillingness to concede that, to be truly happy, she must bend a little.

Loneliness, Love, and Desire to Achieve in Birches Birches

Loneliness, Love, and Desire to Achieve in Birches Robert Frost uses the poem Birches to illustrate his personal experience about three things through the bending of the trees. The three things are loneliness, love, and desire to achieve. Frosts description of loneliness is provided immediately after he first refers to himself with his specific description in Line 20. There he states “I should prefer to have some boy bend (the birches)”. He describes the loneliness of his youth lifestyle writing that he was a boy on a farm “too far from town to learn baseball Whose only play was found in himself”. The most exciting thing to do for him was the swinging of birches. His attempts to “conquer” loneliness were demonstrated through the vehicle of the birches. Frost goes on to describe perhaps the most valuable lesson he learned as a child trying to overcome loneliness, the lesson of “practice makes perfect”. Frost states “He always kept his poise to the top of the branches climbing carefully with…pains…Then he flung outward, feet first, with a swish kicking his way down through the air to the ground.” He learned here that there are times in life when you will conquer a situation and then be done with it. Then you will fly away joyfully knowing you have conquered it. Love is one of those situations. Frost has apparently been hurt by love before stating “Id like to get away from earth And then come back to it and begin over. May no fate willfully misunderstand me And half grant what I wish and snatch me away Not to return.” Apparently his heart has been ripped away by a lost love. He may think this is because he submitted vulnerably to her. If he had a chance to do it again, he might not submit himself so much to the next thief. However, he definitely has the desire to achieve love. His desire to achieve is described when he states how he would like to achieve love. Frost states “Id like to go by climbing a birch tree, And climb…toward heaven (the top or ultimate of his desire, be it love or something else) till the tree (or the world) could bear not more, But dipped its tip and set me down again.” He is possibly stating that no matter what in life you go after, use the world as a tree that you can climb to the top, but realize that at a certain point, the world will no longer be able to support you and you will have to move on to something else. Frost ends his poem stating his satisfaction with overcoming loneliness and love and benefiting from the desire to achieve by writing, “One could do worse than be a swinger of birches”.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.