Monday, December 17, 2007

Of Mice and Men

Sawyer is seen reading this in his prison flashback in season two's Every Man For Himself. Also, Ben quotes the book (see below) when showing Sawyer the other island from the hilltop.

I haven't read it since high school, and this time around I was struck by how emotional I felt for all of the characters. From Crooks and how lonely he was, to Lennie and how simple it was to make him happy (and how easy it was for him to kill things). To George who had such a kind heart, and even Candy looking for a dream to share, and his poor old dog. The thing that did strike me however was that each and every one of them was lonely, and looking for somebody.

I have tried very hard to look for connections between the book and the show, and came up with some basic comparisons:

  • Rabbits. Lennie is pretty obsessed with rabbits and we see rabbits currently playing a role in whatever experiments are going on on the island. Not only did Ben use #8 to terrorize Sawyer, but we saw #15 in the orientation video released at Comic-Con.
  • The bunk house being a gang of rag tag workers all kinda thrown together by a common thread puts me in mind of the survivors. None of them have a reason to have anything to do with each other but all seem to have a certain small degree of separation in the world off the island as well as a common interest on it now.
  • Curly going around acting like a big bully and picking fights with everyone puts me in mind of Sawyer.
I could go on with the little comparisons, but I think like Turn of the Screw, it might be about the title of the book or maybe just the quote that is used from it.

"A guy goes nuts if he ain't got nobody. Don't make no difference who the guy is, long's he's with you. I tell ya, I tell ya," he cried, "I tell ya a guy gets lonely, an' he gets sick." (Crooks to Lennie in the Book, and Ben to Sawyer on Lost)

This quote could really represent many of the characters on Lost.
  • Many of the characters haven't really got anybody. If they do have someone, they either do something to push them away, use them for their own gain, or force them away to keep a secret. Has this made them sick? If so mentally sick, socially sick, lunatic sick, what?
  • Ben: He says this specific quote to Sawyer. Is there any significance to this pairing?
    • I think that Ben feels that he has no one. He is surrounded by people who follow him, but he is lonely.
    • He has/had cancer (sick), but also his mental state can certainly come into question. What sort of person can participate in/orchestrate a mass killing? What sort of person could kill, lie, and steal children? I think that Ben is looking so hard to find a purpose or a place where he fits, that it has just made him nuts. Either that or being so isolated, he just doesn't realize how maniacal his behavior is.
  • Sawyer: He has isolated himself with his quest to find and kill the real Sawyer. His loneliness comes from not allowing himself to care for people and just basically turning everything into a con. Until Cassidy, who turned on him in the end as well.
    • Sawyer could have had a chance to be someone new on the island, clean slate and all. However, he chose to continue being a horrible person pushing people away, and forcing himself to continue to have nobody.
  • Locke: He was so lonely in the real world. Thrown out of a window and paralyzed by his father, giving him a handicap that separates him from mainstream society. Being rejected by his father, lied to by his mother, and just pretty much getting the shaft from everyone he knows. Being rejected by Helen, etc... He is so lonely that he turns to a phone sex operator for friendship. His is heartsick, and he has nobody, certainly, and it's one of the reasons that he has embraced the island so much as his true place of belonging.
  • Kate: She has nobody in the real world because she can't let anyone know who/where she is for fear of getting thrown in jail. Her mother has rejected her for blowing up her husband and her house. She is responsible for the death of her best friend, and she just can't share this with anyone. She has nobody in the real world, but seems to have used the island to forge some real relationships based on who she really is rather than who she pretends to be.
  • Eko: He is like Ben in that he initially did what he had to do to survive, but became a murderous maniac with loads of people to do his bidding, but none being friend. He had isolated himself with his power, and like Ben sort of embraced the island to cleanse himself just in a spiritual way rather than a I-am-the-boss-of-you way.
  • Charlie: Well, he isolated himself with drugs. Basically drove everyone away and messed up his career, relationships, and life. The island helped him get over his sickness and find people that he truly cares about. Enough to sacrifice himself to make sure they survive.
So, as I wrote this, I realized; while many of the survivors were alone and isolated in the regular world, there were two camps on the island. Those that used it to make themselves new, less isolated and not so alone, and those who just became more isolated. Ben and Sawyer fall into the latter category, which makes it apt that they are the two speaking the quote from the book.

Final Bullets:
  • John Steinbeck is the author, and ROT used Steinbeck as the password for one of their clues.
  • The Pearl is a Steinbeck novel and it is the name a station on the island.
  • Ultimately the story of George and Lennie (even Candy and Curly) is of a lost dream. I think that can be applied to Ben as well. Whatever it is that he is hoping the island will give him, seems to be falling apart.
    • This could also apply to the DHARMA project as a whole. We have no where near the whole story, but it's implied at this time that the dream that was to be The DHARMA Initiative has been unrealized.
  • The idiom, The best laid schemes of mice and men means: The most carefully prepared plans may go wrong. Lots of plans have gone awry in the tales of DHARMA and the Losties, do I really need to elaborate? :D
Next Month: Stephen King's Carrie


maven said...

Ange, you blow me away every time with your analysis of our books to the show! Great job again!

There's not much to add. But in looking at the relationship of George and Lenny: It reminds me slightly of Ben to the island and Locke to the island. They're being protective and trying to keep Lenny/the island on the right path. I know the island isn't as "simple" as Lenny is, but apparently from what we know at this point in time, the island does need a leader...someone to protect it from whatever or whom ever wants to destroy or control it.

Amused2bHere said...

If only our high school English teachers could see us now! I'm sure they'd be impressed by our analysis and commentary.

Ange, you really rock at this. You have come up with insightful and spot on observations before, and this time you did not dissapoint. Well done.

I really like your point of how being Lost is a very lonely place to be. We can take this spiritually as well as literally. As long as you have someone with you, even if you both are lost at least you are lost together, and can help each other find your way. But there is something about being lost by yourself--you feel abandoned by the universe; rejected and insignificant. The creation story shows us that it is not good for man to be alone...we all need connection, companionship. There is no lonlier place than being lost.

I think that is why George kills Lenny. He sees that Lenny faces imprisonment, isolation, or a brutal death by lynching. Whatever happens next, George can't go there with Lenny. Lenny would be lost/alone. So he does for Lenny what was done for Candy's dog--a merciful swift death to avoid more misery. He has compassion on Lenny, keeps his promise to Lenny's Aunt: but all according to a twisted logic that says George has the right to decide that Lenny's better off dead (Apparently Slim agrees with George, and covers for him.) I'm sure George felt he had no choice but to "put Lenny down".

I wonder if Ben also felt he had no choice in some of the executions he's had to order.

Ange said...

Maven: I liked your thoughts on the island needing to be protected. I wonder if Ben isn't also playing the protector role with Jacob as well.

Amused: You raise a good point about Ben maybe not feeling like he has a choice in the things he has done (specifically the killing part). At one time I think he thought he was doing the right thing with his choices, but at some point it just went all wonky and turned maniacial.