Common Themes in Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath

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Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath, written by John Steinbeck, the winner of 1962 Nobel Prize for Literature, both depict the harsh living conditions and challenging hardships migrant farm workers had to face during the period of Great Depression. In the novella Of Mice and Men, two men with the names George and Lennie travel to hunt ranch jobs in California, in the hopes of having a farm of their own one day. However, Lennie is mentally retarded and always stirs up trouble, eventually leading to George’s mercy killing of Lennie, an action that terminates the pursuit of their American Dream. In the latter novel, the Joad family, like many other poor tenant farmers from Oklahoma, is forced off from its land and into the journey to California, seeking for jobs, land, dignity, and a better future. Although the family works assiduously, its dreams are crushed by the cruel reality, including the separation and death of family members, the thin chance of employment, and the ill treatments from the rich Californian farm owners. Some of the recurring themes, shared by both novels, are humans’ inhumanity towards others, the powerful nature of relationships and the impossibility of the American Dream. In both novels, humans display inhumanity towards each other, even though some of them are the victims of this predatory nature. The author assumes the voice of a used-car salesman, “God, if I could only get a hundred jalopies. I don't care if they run or not.”(Chapter 7 GOW) When the farmers are struggling, the crooked car salesmen are cheating on their urgencies of purchasing cars, taking advantages of the weak and showing the inhumanity among human beings. This inhumanity is also shown through selfishness and the animosity towards... ... middle of paper ... ...to change their lives in some positive ways. George and Lennie want to own a farm. Curley’s wife wants to be a movie star. Curley want the love from his wife. Crooks wants to be treated equally. However, in the end of the book, none of them achieve their dreams, a confirmation of the phrase - The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry. (To a Mouse) As the three recurring themes of the books become clear, so does our understanding of the ideas embedded in the lines of the books. Even with all the difficulties presented by the themes of both books, I think Steinbeck still wishes us to view these challenges as valuable experiences and richest opportunities to eventually achieve the seemingly impossible American Dream. In a smaller context, what the two books taught me are : Be kind. Be optimistic. Be yourself. These words are grossly clichéd but totally true.
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