The Development of Freedom and Confinement in Of Mice and Men
The characters are confined by their circumstances, or by their identity, with the theme of one is never truly free.
Throughout the story, Steinbeck uses Curleyr’s Wife to show how being a woman confines her, and makes her feel lonely shown best by her interactions with Lennie. One of the first times this is displayed, is the reader gets a real interaction with her, and finally learns more about her, when she says, You bindle bums think youre so damn good. Whatta ya think I am, a kid? I tell ya I could of went with shows(Steinbeck 78). This shows that she regrets not going with ?one of the shows because she had opportunities there, where she doesnt have those opportunities on the ranch. Everyone treats her poorly, and unfairly because they dont want to get in trouble for talking to the boss daughter in law and she realizes that she probably couldve lived a better life, had she not married Curley. She had wanted to escape a life where she was confined by her mother, and ended up confined by her new life. Throughout the book Steinbeck continues this theme, through Curleyr’s Wife, however it is most prevalent when she herself points it out by saying,Why cant I talk to you? I never get to talk to nobody. I get awful lonely.(Steinbeck 86) She implies that she isnt allowed to talk to anyone, and states blatantly that sher’s lonely. This shows that the men confine her, that how independent she is allowed to be depends on Curley, and the other men in the bunkhouse. Soon after this, when Lennie still refuses to talk to her, Steinbeck says,Her face grew angry. Whar’s the matter with me? she cried. ?Aint I got a right to talk to nobody?(87) Sher’s upset that whor’s supposed to be the nicest guy on the ranch, still wont talk to her. She talks about her right to talk to people and how no one lets her exercise those rights. She suggests that her right to talk to others has been taken away from her and just wants to know why, and if she has something to do with it. This shows that no matter how hard she tries, the men in the bunkhouse will always push her into a life of loneliness, just because sher’s married to Curley. Being Curleyr’s Wife confines her to loneliness, a loneliness caused by her lack of freedom.
Furthermore, the character Crooks also plays a role in illustrating freedom and confinement, due to being segregated from everyone, because of his race. This is best shown through his one of his first conversations with Lennie,I aint wanted in the bunkhouse, and you aint wanted in my room. ?Why aint you wanted? Lennie asked. ?Cause Im black.(Steinbeck 68) This quote shows that he is so used to being isolated, that he wont accept someone actually trying to talk to him. Her’s so focused on what others have shown him, that he just assumes nothing good will come from Lennie coming into his room. He says he isnt wanted in the bunkhouse, meaning that others have forced him into being lonely. Also depicting that the only reason her’s so isolated, is because of the color of his skin, that being born black is what confines him. Soon after this interaction, Crooks finally begins to accept Lennie being in his room, shown by Steinbeck saying,Come on in and set a while, Crooks said His tone was a little more friendly.(69) which shows that he was getting comfortable with the idea of having company. By saying his tone became a bit more friendly it can be interpreted that he was just glad to have a friend, or at least someone to talk to, even if it’s only for a short amount of time. Steinbeck continues the theme of freedom and confinement through Crooks later on when he says,It was difficult for Crooks to conceal his pleasure with anger.(75) This shows once again that he was just happy to have company. The idea that he wasnt going to be as isolated with Lennie around, was slowly becoming a reality, a reality that would soon be taken away from him. Crooks life seems to have the theme of getting things taken away from him, specifically his basic human rights. Throughout Of Mice and Men it is clear that Crooks cant do much, and just doesnt do much, for the fear of getting things taken from him. Crooks is forced into a life of solitude, because his freedom is dictated by anyone else whor’s not black.
Similarly, both George also plays a role in developing the theme of being confined my oner’s circumstances, displayed through his confinement caused by money and various interactions with Lennie from the beginning to the end of Of Mice and Men. The first instance that it is shown that their freedom is going to be taken away is at the very beginning of the book when George says,Tomorra were gonna go to work Tonight Im gonna lay right here and look up. I like it.(Steinbeck 8) George says this when they are laying outside in the brush, illustrating that he just wants to look up at the stars for as long as he can. He knows that hell be working long hours soon, and his only desire is just to look up at the stars, before he has to go to a confining job in the morning. They will be confined by their money circumstances for a while before they have saved up enough money to buy their own land. George continues to describe the freedom theyll have once they accomplish their dreams by saying, An itd be our own, an nobody could can us.(Steinbeck 58) He displays his desire to not have to be worried about Lennie doing something to get them thrown in jail. George longs to have the freedom of allowing Lennie to have his independence. George continues to describe their aspiration when he says, r’spose they was a carnival or a circus come to town, or a ball game, or any damn thing Wed just go to her We wouldnt ask nobody if we could. (Steinbeck 61) George is describing vividly what they will be able to do when they have their independence, and is beginning to realize that all of their hopes and dreams might actually become a reality. At this point he has an inclination to dream about the possibilities for the future, to devote his time to thinking about all of the freedom hell have. All he wants to do is be free of worry about Lennie, and even free from their money troubles. George almost seems tired of looking out for Lennie, he seems just to feel confined to the job of being his ?caretaker. He is confined by his need to help accomplish their dream, all in order for Lennie to be independent allowing for George to have some freedom.
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