Of Mice and Men: Yearning Friendship

In the heart of every human, there is a longing for companionship. The novella Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck tells readers of the tragic tale between two males, George Milton and Lennie Small, who are trying to survive the cruel times of America’s Great Depression. George and Lennie are two ranch workers hopping from place to place in order to survive and fulfill their dreams. Even though the two men are complete opposites, they stick together to the end of the novella. Steinbeck illustrates the theme, the longing and human need for friendship, by constantly pushing many characters through the feeling of loneliness, the benefits of cooperation, and the power of companionship.
The feeling of loneliness forces people to realize their need for friendship. For example, when Crooks tells Lennie, “Books ain’t no good. A guy needs somebody—to be near him. A guy goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody. Don’t make no difference who the guy is, long’s he’s with you. I tell ya, a guy gets too lonely and he gets sick” (73). This reveals the feeling of loneliness drives people mad. The feeling drives people remarkably mad that they learn to accept any company that they have, even if the company is bothersome. Furthermore, Curley’s wife responds to Lennie’s stubbornness by stating, “Why can’t I talk to you? I never get to talk to nobody.
I get awful lonely” (86). This brings to light Curley’s wife’s actions of constantly annoying the males. Her loneliness causes her to bother people who normally push her away and ignore her—her heart longs for some sort of company, and it won’t stop until she obtains one. Although the feeling of loneliness pushes the reader into realization of a longing for friendship, cooperation keeps a friendship lasting.

Cooperation benefits a friendship between two people; it keeps the longing for friendship satisfied. For instance, Lennie remembers George’s words and beams, “Because… because I got you to look after me, and you got me to look after you” (14). This explains that two males depend on each other and leaning on each other’s shoulders when it is needed through their cooperation. The cooperation between the two keeps their friendship strong even though they are total opposites. In fact, even by the end of their tale, Lennie rejoicing, “An’ I got you. We got each other, that’s what, that gives a hoot hell about us” (104).
This reveals that through their tough battles, they still stayed strong friends. Once again, their cooperation was shown through their dependence on each other. Due to the face that they have each other, Lennie suggests that that is the reason people give a “hoot hell” about them. He means that people know them or hear of them as a result of their friendship. The two cooperate, thus, making them known as a duo. The benefits of cooperation are not the only things that keep a friendship lasting; the power of companionship supports a lasting friendship as well.
Companionship is a powerful element. For instance, when Carlson complains about Candy’s dog’s revolting scent, Candy replies, “I’m so used to him, I had him from a pup” (45). This reveals that companionship is powerful enough for a person to be familiarized with their friend’s appearance, attitude, and personality—a person is not annoyed with certain characteristics of their friend, even though the people around them are. In this case, Candy’s long time ownership of his his dog has enable him to no longer be bother by the dog’s revolting smell. He doesn’t mind it because it reminds him that he has a companion.
The longing in his heart is well fed by the company of a dog; there is a chance that the longing will come back if his dog is gone. In addition, at the end of the tale, when George is speaking to Lennie about Lennie accidentally killing Curley’s wife, George states, “No Lennie. I ain’t mad. I never been mad, an’ I ain’t now. That’s the thing I want ya to know” (106). This reveals that companionship is powerful enough for people to set aside their problems and stay calm in order to keep hold of a friend. Lennie’s idiotic actions often causes many people to be angry with him, but George has been a companion of Lennie long enough to be habituated with Lennie’s actions. George’s longing for friendship is fulfilled, because he has Lennie. Companionship is a powerful thing that holds two friends together.
Loneliness, cooperation, and companionship are three strings that intertwine, creating a braid that is called friendship. Separately, the strings are easily ripped apart; however, together, the braid is stronger, making it harder to rip. Steinbeck is trying to prove that friendship is an
essential part of life. Friendship is important because without it, a person can be driven to madness and obtaining too much loneliness can kill a person. Any creature could be friend in Steinbeck’s point of view: a dead animal, a living animal, or a person.
Whatever or whoever a character is comfortable around can be considered their friend and friends can be found in the smallest of things to biggest of things; a person just needs to take time and search. He teaches the reader that no matter the case, somewhere in a person’s heart, there is a yearning for friendship.

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