Isolation and Commitment of Mice and Men

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Isolation is more prevalent in a capitalist society, and the novel shows that hope for the working and poor class is worthless, since they will never have a fair access to the sources of production. Capitalism produces social hierarchy, where those without land and other resources are found in the lowest rungs of the social ladder (Loftis 135). Levant shows that Lennie represents the reduction of humanity to idiocy (134) and this can be related to how capitalism forces people to be non-human beings. Because of the demand for efficiency and increasing profits, firms turn people into robots, whose function is to produce money for shareholders. People are treated as means to a profit-centered end, a nature of the grotesque inherent in capitalism (Railsback 53). The American dream is hopeless for the poor. Millichap argues that Of Mice and Men is an expression of the tragedy of struggling for the American dream (6). Ocampo highlights the cruelty present in Steinbeck’s novels, because they depict the reality of class oppression and the futility of escaping it (50). Owens focuses on the setting, because since the novel is set in a California valley, it portrays that the story as symbolic of the fallen world (145). Slim tells George: Ain’t many guys travel around together. He adds: I don’t know why. Maybe ever’body in the whole damn world is scared of each other (Steinbeck chapter 2, par. 179). The capitalist society has made people enemies instead of friends, because of the competition for labor and limited assets. Furthermore, George aims to have his own land, but his struggles are not enough for him to save money to buy land. He remains poor throughout the novel. In a patriarchal state, male relationships seek to dominate and to eliminate femininity and women characters, because they ironically want to save them, although in the long run, they only further isolate women from their dreams and hopes. The setting of the novel is essentially a man’s world (Ditsky 23), where women are seen and treated as either sexual objects (Broder 224) or nurturers. Violence is the key to survival. George says: 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 (Steinbeck 3.17). Happiness is elusive to the poor and they tend to use violence to express their anxiety with their society. As a result, women cannot survive as equals with men, since they also suffer from their weakened gender. Curly’s wife is the temptress, who can be understood as a symbol of gender oppression. She cannot pursue her own needs, so she is sexualized and demonized to have some function in society. It reveals a misogynistic theme, although this can also be understood in light of the patriarchal culture that Steinbeck belongs to. Steinbeck wants to save women from men’s violence, but the effect demoralizes and weakens women, since they are not empowered to help themselves. Emery and Bloom use characterization, plot, and