Walls And Bridges. Essay, Research Paper
“People are lonely because they build walls instead of bridges.”
-Joseph F. Newton
In life, people try to isolate themselves from other people to block out the remembered
pain when they should be building bridges to make newer, better memories of friendship. In the
book Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, some of the characters build walls around themselves
to become lonely and isolated. A few build bridges to get rid of the solitude that they had held
for some time. Crooks builds walls around himself to protect himself from the cruel world that is
vastly surrounding him. On the other hand, Curley’s wife tried to build bridges to the outside
world, in hopes of escaping her duties as a housewife. Also in the book, Lennie is torn between
building bridges and making friends or building walls and being lonely but obedient.
Crooks is a black man with a disability who built walls around himself after being
shunned from society all of his adult life. Crooks “kept his distance and demanded that other
people keep theirs” (67). He showed bitterness towards other people because they had always
done so to him. Once example of this is when he says, “”Cause I’m black. They play cards in
there, but I can’t play because I’m black. They say I stink. Well, I tell you, you all stink to me”
(68). Crooks also has low self-esteem which is interfering with how he interacts with people.
Crooks feels that he, “…is is just a nigger talkin’, an’ a busted-back nigger. So it don’t mean
nothing, see?” (71). Crooks may not be meaning to, but he is constantly building barricades
around him to shield him from the fierce, misunderstanding world. In doing so, he becomes
lonely and isolated.
Curley’s wife is a young, flirtatious lady who is married to a jealous man. By getting
married, she crushed all of her dreams of what her future might have held. She thought that a
man she met “…was gonna put me [her] in the movies. Says I [she] was a natural. Soon’s he got
back to Hollywood he was gonna write to me [her] about it” (88). She reached out to this man
and made a bridge in hopes of finding a newer, better life but was disappointed when he never
wrote her back. Curley’s wife is often seen talking to the other men on the farm, trying to seduce
them. She often used the excuse of looking for Curley to go and visit the other men on the farm.
An example of this is when she said, “‘Sometimes Curley’s in here,’ she explained. George said
brusquely, ‘Well he ain’t now.’ ‘If he ain’t, I guess I better look some place else,’ she said
playfully ” (31). She was wed to Curley in the end. She built a bridge of lifelong friendship to
him while trying to escape life with her mother after her mother supposedly stole the letter the
man from Hollywood wrote. She “… married Curley. [She] Met him out to the Riverside Dance
Palace that same night”’ (88).
Lennie, a man with a mental illness, always tries to connect with people throughout the
book with his simple mind but always finds doubt with George’s words. He doesn’t know better
half of the time. He was originally told by George, his traveling partner, to build walls around
himself. “What you gonna say tomorrow when the boss asks you questions?” Lennie stopped
chewing and swallowed. His face was concentrated. ‘I…I ain’t gonna… say a word.’” (15)
Lennie would often use “…smiles helplessly in an attempt to make friends” (68). He may not
have been smart but he had a kind soul that meant no harm. He just wanted to make friends so
he wouldn’t be lonely. Lennie would also try to build bridges with Curley’s wife against George’s
orders. This got him into trouble a few times. One incident occurred when Lennie was in the
barn with Curley’s wife and hesitantly talked to her. He ended up killing her because he was torn
in-between following George’s orders to build walls of loneliness or to follow his heart and build
bridges of friendship (87-91).
People are building walls and putting obstacles between themselves and others so that
they can be alone when they really need to reach out and build bridges to other people. In the
book Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, many of the characters try to build walls and bridges
around themselves to become less lonely than they currently are or to become as isolated as
possible. Crooks builds walls around himself because of how he was treated by others. Curley’s
wife and Lennie tried to reach out most of the time and build bridges to escape their lifestyles. In
general, people tend to lean more towards older experiences when they need to go out into the
world and make new ones.