The American Dream in John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men


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The American Dream in Of Mice and Men

 

The American dream ideally constitutes life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as stated by America's forefathers in the Declaration of Independence.  This vision has been extremely warped in the 20th century to fit the new breed of Americans, which are greedy and self-centered.  The main characters opinions in the novel Of Mice and Men of The American Dream substantially differs from each other, and from today's society.

 

Of Mice and Men takes place in the 1930's of 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 lied in California.

 

    In come the two main characters of Of Mice and Men, George and Lennie, two migrant workers on the run and looking for a job.  George is a "small and quick," man, who may sometimes seem like he dislikes Lennie's company, but in actually is very devoted to him (pg. 2). Lennie is "a huge man," who is somewhat mentally retarded, and a reveres George's every word (pg. 2).  The two are best friends, and how ever different they may seem both share a common goal.  Their main ambition is to "get the jack together," purchase a few acres of land they can call their own, "an' live off the fatta the lan'" (pg. 14).  To own a humble home, where they can work for themselves and be free of the persecution and scrutiny of society.  A kind of sanctuary from the flings and arrows of the outside world, where it seems Lennie was not meant to live in.

 

    Unlike Lennie, all Curly's wife longs for is to experience the world for herself.  She is virtually a prisoner in her own home, devoid of the power to change her fate.  When she was young, she dreamt of becoming a famous actress in a "show," but when she married Curly, her entire life changed for the worse.  After her marriage, the shattered remains of her dreams and a husband who did not love her was all she had left.

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    The futility of George and Lennie's struggle for their little piece of the American dream is best summed up by Crooks when he said that he's "seen hundreds of men come by on the road an' on the ranches, with their bindles on their back an' that same damn thing in their heads.  Hundreds of them.  They come, an' they quit an' go on; an' every damn one of `em's got a little piece of land in his head.  An' never a God damn one of the get it.  Just like heaven," (pg. 74).

 


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