In the novel Of Mice and Men, author John Steinbeck alludes to how isolation affects one’s thoughts and personality.
At the beginning of the novel when the main characters are being introduced to the farm, Crooks is referenced by a derogatory term rather than his name.
"'Sure. Ya see the stable buck's a n-----."... 'They let the n----- come in that night. '" (20)
Steinbeck uses Crooks' speech to convey common symptoms of isolation.
"'I can do it if you want, Mr. Slim.'"
"'No. I'll come do it myself'" (50).
Throughout the novel, Steinbeck uses an African-American character named Crooks to represent the motif of isolation.
Another exchange between Crooks and one of the main characters, Lennie, shows more directly how Crooks is treated on the farm.
"'Why ain't you wanted?'"
This quote explains how Crooks is thought of on the farm. Based on the use of demeaning language to describe him and the tone that the author sets with the dialogue, one can infer that Crooks is at the bottom of the social hierarchy on the farm. Being on a lower level than anyone else generally leads to being isolated.
A subtle writing choice by Steinbeck also gives the reader a good feel for how isolation affected Crooks.
This exchange between Crooks and Slim, a worker on the farm, shows how Crooks views himself. Crooks' use of a title ('Mr. Slim') implies that Crooks views himself as unequal, as no other character in the novel addresses Slim with a title. This feeling of unequalness is a common symptom of isolation, as loneliness can cause you to feel as though everyone around you is superior.
This quote better represents how isolation affects Crooks' personality. The thoughts and emotions that come with being isolated lead him to become candid and untempered, not really caring what anyone else thinks. This aspect of him was not shown earlier in the novel, so it can be implied that continued loneliness morphed his personality.
"''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 of you stink to me.'" (68)
Through the last two chapters of the book, Crooks is not part of the plotline and isn't mentioned. This is a purposeful choice by the author to show that isolation has led Crooks to lose himself, and that isolation has completely transformed his personality.
Overall, Steinbeck clearly shows how isolation affects one's character, thoughts, and personality.