Overall, the story depicts loneliness as its central major theme. Aside from promoting the act of euthanasia, the characters also evolve around adultery and murder. Although the story mainly evolves around George and Lennie, supporting characters such as Candy, Curly’s wife and Crooks also helped in emphasizing and further establishing the story’s central theme.
Candy. As an old aging handyman survived with only one hand, Candy has been worried that his boss would sooner or later declare him an invalid and ineffective worker in the ranch, thus rendering him to leave the ranch. With his physical condition, his grave feelings were further worsened by the way his dog now looks like. Once an impressive sheep herder, his dog had become the embodiment of himself – old, toothless and bad-smelling. Because of this, and upon the pressing of Carson, Candy had driven his dog out of its misery, no more a living reminder of his harsh fate.
Candy’s untoward attitude towards his physical disability is the main contention of his loneliness and discontentment. As his fear of being replaced draws on his mind from time to time, he admired George’s idea of having the freedom to work whenever he pleases. And despite knowing that Lennie killed Curley’s wife, he still pleaded for himself and George to push for the original plan and buy the farm they pleases.
Curley’s wife. Portrayed by the Steinbeck as a bitchy temptress, Curley’s wife is a complex character who had admitted to feeling a kind of shameless dissatisfaction with her earthly existence. Her dream of becoming a movie star was pacified and camouflaged by preying upon the weaknesses of other people, starting with Lennie’s mental incapacity, the colour of Crook’s skin as well as the debilitating age of Candy.
Ironically, she was never given a name in the entire story, but only being referred to as Curley’s wife (in reference to her husband). Her frustration and loneliness of not having been able to attain her dreams were compensated by her physical appearance, of being dressed in fancy, feathered red shoes – in likeness to the late Marilyn Monroe who was the epitome of female sexuality in the world dominated by men.
Crooks. Named after his crooked back, Crooks was depicted as an extremely lonely man who segregates white people from his own property, as the white society has segregated him from being in their houses. But as the story progresses, he played a cruel game with Lennie by pretending that George had left for good without the latter. By the time Lennie’s simple mind evokes cruelty upon Crooks, it was only then that he relented.
Because of his loneliness, Crooks had become the cruellest person he could ever have made for himself. Belonging to the black race had made him lose his sense of belongingness for a group of people, friends and from the simple pleasures that life could ever give. And when he was able to find George and Lennie as friends, he asked the two if he could be able to tag along with their plans of owning their own farm, come along and have a share of the work.
Through George and Lennie, it had become very evident that Candy, Curley’s wife and Crooks were so envious of the former’s dreams and aspirations of having their own farm. Since the aforementioned characters have already given up on their own dreams, the hope that George and Lennie had brought were somehow encouraging enough to make them realize what they want in their very own lives, and have a dream like those of George and Lennie.