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Loneliness in a World Full of People

By , Raleigh, NC
What is loneliness? Loneliness can come in different ways for everyone whether it is being physically alone or emotionally alone. In John Steinbeck’s novel Of Mice and Men loneliness is a prominent theme. Throughout the novel the two main characters George and Lenny deal with loneliness throughout society similar to people who live in the Modernist period. Everyone felt some type of loneliness throughout the modernist period, but mostly lower class people like George and Lenny. New inventions throughout time and new government can all induce a sense of loneliness in our society.

Throughout the modernist period there were many immigrants moving to America. This all changed when the president put the Immigration Act into place. The Immigration Act decreased the amount of immigrants in America. With fewer immigrants in America many immigrants would feel more alone and secluded. People in America already looked at immigrants differently but with fewer of the people that understood and could relate to them around they felt lonely. George and Lenny are similar to the immigrants of this time period because they traveled to many new places not knowing anyone. George and Lenny were the outcasts; because they traveled together people looked at them differently. In the novel one of the men at their work points out that George and Lenny are traveling together and inquires about it. The man finds it odd that two men travel together and notes that most men just come, work and then leave. George and Lenny were different from all the other workers and people obviously noticed.

People in the modernist period were not only divided culturally but socially. With the introduction of moving pictures between middle class and lower class became even more divided from upper class. Many people could not afford to go to the moving pictures and were looked down upon by their peers as being different. Upper class families in the modernist period would tend to avoid families who “were not good enough” or were significantly poorer then they were. George and Lenny were the working class people of their time period, just like the middle class and lower class. Sometimes throughout the novel you could see the evident difference between George and Lenny and the upper class families. One example from the novel, Of Mice and Men, is when Lenny and George are on the run from their old home, but if the men were upper class they wouldn’t need to run because they could afford to stand up for themselves and be respected. Even though Lenny didn’t know any better by touching a girl’s dress, the girl still freaked out and forced the men to run off and work somewhere else. The men felt alone and divided from the rest of the world when they had to hide in the forest to escape being arrested.

Similar to the invention of moving pictures was the introduction of the radio to the household. This was a luxury that many were not able to afford right away and once again human nature caused people to look down upon the less fortunate, making them feel outcast and lonely. Another way that the radios made people feel loneliness is the cut off from the rest of the world. People used to have to go outside and talk to others to find out the news of the day but instead they could just turn on the radio and listen to the news. Society grew more distant with the new invention and loneliness throughout society grew. Something that is similar to the introduction of the radios in homes is the introduction of cable and television. Personal experiences have shown me that people become lonesome and more used to being alone and secluded with the introduction of television. Without the need to interact with others to find out what is happening in the world we disconnect ourselves from other people completely. George was forced to disconnect himself from the one person he was closest to and loved the most, Lenny. George was all alone after Lenny died and his life was bound to become lonelier.
George and Lenny are very similar to people who lived during the modernist period. People were divided throughout the modernist period making more people feel lonely and separated. Whether it was new inventions that people could not afford or the government trying to regulate population people were left feeling lonely and different throughout society. The societal divides and separation still exist today although it is not always as obvious as it was back then. More and more inventions and events leave the world more separated and lonely throughout society.



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