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How Of Mice And Men And The Great Gatsby Reflect The American Nightmare

1123 words - 5 pages

The phrase the American dream is contradictory to it’s meaning. The American dream was for most people just that, a dream. However, these very people had their hopes dashed and were forever lost. One could argue that a much more fitting and appropriate name for the American dream might as well be the American nightmare. In the 1920’s and early 30’s, the American dream was a beacon of hope as well as prosperity for anyone unfortunate enough to fall under it’s alluring curse, with an exception of a handful of people. What was given instead of this promise of wealth and dreams, what was given was the deterioration of dreams, and usually lives. Sadly, Lennie Small, from Of Mice and Men as well as Jay Gatsby, from The Great Gatsby was not the exceptions.
To better understand Lennie Small, a poor mentally challenged farm hand’s dream, it would be a good idea to learn a few important characteristics about Lennie Small. Owens Louis states how Lennie is constantly compared to an animal or described as childlike (147), this shows that Lennie’s mind was not like most people’s mind, he was mentally ill. Lennie’s psyche results in Lennie acting as a ten-year-old child in a grown man’s body. Despite Lennie’s childlike nature he was still incredibly dangerous. Owens also states that Lennie is monstrously powerful and that he has a problem with killing things (148). What can be observed here is that Lennie is a force to be reckon with. Now that there is a better understanding of who Lennie is, it will make understanding his dream all the easier.
Lennie had one dream and one dream only, that was to own his very own farm with his best, and only friend, George Milton. Joseph Frotenrose supports this by saying that George, Lennie, as well as a few farm workers share a dream of owning a farm to work (38). George and Lennie had planned to save money from the farm and buy the piece of land. Sadly this dream was a pipe dream, for Lennie’s mental state seemed as if it was destined to intervene in achieving this relatively simple dream. It would appear that due to Lennie’s mental state the dream of owning a virtual heaven on Earth farm was a failure before it ever even had a chance to blossom. However Owens makes a good point by explaining how even though it was Lennie’s mental problems that got in the way of his dream, it was his innocence that kept it alive all that time (149). Unlike Lennie, Jay Gatsby, a self-made millionaire with the etiquette of a homeless man pretending to be High class had two dreams, the first one was money.
Gatsby actually had two different dreams, first was his dream of wanting to be wealthy. However how Gatsby went about obtaining his funds was on the shady side. Fitzgerald explains that some of Gatsby’s money came from inheritances, but most of his money came from his side business (87). It is implied that this means criminal activities such as illegal distribution of alcohol or gambling. It seems that Gatsby did not care how his golden...

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