The American Dream in Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

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The American Dream is something that many Americans, as well as people from all over the world, strive to accomplish. Although it has progressed over time, many people still want to grasp a hold of it. John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath represent the struggle of migrant workers and the unrealistic concept of the American dream. Steinbeck illustrates the impossibility of the American Dream in the 1930s through George and Lennie in Of Mice and Men, and through the Joads in The Grapes of Wrath. He ties in realistic struggles that many individuals suffered from during the Great Depression and the time following.
John Steinbeck’s books were about the social and economic issues of rural America, especially the Salinas Valley in California. “It was the valley setting, with the emotionally charged Eden theme and complex of symbols which it evoked, that provided the soil for Steinbeck’s greatest fiction,” (Owens, “The American...Illusion”). On Steinbeck’s summer breaks, he worked as a farm hand on a nearby sugar beet farm. While working, he noticed the difficult living conditions of his fellow workers. John Steinbeck used the Salinas Valley setting for Of Mice and Men because it dictates that the story will take place in a fallen world and that the quest for the illusive American Dream will be of central thematic significance.
The typical American Dream of the 1930s was that everyone wanted a house and land to call their own; however, most men ended up living in a room full of men working on someone else’s ranch. Steinbeck illustrates this dream as impossible through the failure of George and Lennie’s achievement of their dream. In fact, George admits that their dream was destined to fail, “I think I kno...

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...ance of the handicapped, African-American stable hand, Crooks, to comment on racial discrimination (Of...Themes). Steinbeck also includes a doc figure is his stories, Slim in Of Mice and Men and Casy in The Grapes of Wrath. This doc figure is a wise observer of life who epitomizes the idealized stance of the non-teleological thinker.
“As a writer of worldwide influence, Steinbeck has helped America to understand herself by finding universal themes in the experience of men and women,” (“John Steinbeck”). Of Mice and Men is the middle book in Steinbeck’s trilogy about agricultural labor in California. He began the manuscript shortly after completing In Dubious Battle and immediately before The Grapes of Wrath. The trilogy is an epic response to the small problems of farm labor in the Salinas Valley, where there was a high demand for seasonal migrant farmers.
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