The American Dream In John Steinbeck's Of Mice And Men

1286 words - 5 pages

Of Mice and Men is based on 1930's America during the Great
Depression. The American dream was no more, and the land of
opportunity had become the land of misfortune. It was during this
time that many farmers best hope for a new life lay in California. The
American Dream is the idea of an individual overcoming all obstacles
and beating all odds to one day be successful. This subject is the
predominant theme in John Steinbeck’s novel.

This is a novel of defeated hope and the harsh reality of the American
dream. Steinbeck’s naturalistic and unrefined style of writing is
helpful because of its ability to connect with his readers.

The most important dream in this novel is that of the two main characters Lennie and George. They are poor, homeless, migrant workers who although their dream is essentially the same, they both want it for different reasons. They desperately cling to the notion that they are better than other workers who drift from ranch to ranch because, unlike the others, they have a plan for the future and they have each other. The two men are not unique for wanting a place and a life of their own, but they are unique in that they have each other.

Lennie wants to live somewhere where no one would try to hurt him and
get mad at him if he does something wrong. More importantly Lennie
wants to tend the rabbits because he likes touching things that look
soft so the idea of being allowed to look after an entire family of
live rabbits completely delights him: ‘”An’ put some grass to the
rabbits,” Lennie broke in. “I wouldn’t never forget to feed them. When
we gon’ta do it, George?”’

Lennie's dream holds the whole novel together. We hear it at the
beginning, when it sounds like fantasy. We hear it in the middle, when
it seems likely it may come true, and then we hear it again at the end
when everybody's dreams have been shattered. Steinbeck doesn't give
the migrant workers unrealistic ambitions but he does show how
conditions during the Great Depression frustrated them. This is most
clearly shown by Crooks who talks about not only George and Lennie's
dream but the dreams of many men at that time for a piece of land of
their own.

George’s version of the dream is more centered on the idea of owning
land and controlling his life. He wants to live somewhere where nobody
has any hold of him. He is aware that while he is working on someone
else’s land there is always a slight possibility that he will be
‘canned’. He wants to be his own boss and doesn’t like to rely on
someone else. He wants independence. George is the creator of Lennie’s
dreams and he shares it in himself although he hopes for it in an
entirely different way. He has a concern for Lennie which is another
appealing factor of this dream. This is because Lennie is mentally
challenged and he can’t do anything for himself therefore, if he did
live on his own land then there would be no one to object or run him:
‘”An’ it’d be our own, an’...

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