Dreams in Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men

Dreams in Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men

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Dreams in Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men

Most people have some kind of dream. A dream is something to indulge
in, a means of escaping momentarily from the harsh reality of life.
The beauty of a dream is that it gives a person a purpose in life.
However these dreams are often thwarted by many obstacles along the
way, as the characters of John Steinbeck’s “Of mice and Men”
discover.

This is a novel of defeated hope and the unkind reality of the
American Dream. The main characters, George and Lennie are poor
migrant workers, condemned to a life of wandering and hard work in
which they are never able to reap the fruits of their labour.
Their dreams were not uncommon among Americans at the time of the
Great Depression (the biggest economic decline in the history of the
USA). Their dream was a simple one: a place of their own, the
opportunity to work for themselves and harvest what they sew with no
one to take anything from them or give them orders. George wants a
place where he and Lennie can live away from the discrimination and
prejudices presented by society towards them:

”We'd jus' live there. We'd belong there. There wouldn't be no more
runnin' round the country and gettin' fed by a Jap cook. No, sir, we'd
have our own place where we belonged and not sleep in no bunk house".

The dream is summed up well by Candy, “Everybody wants a bit of land,
not much, jus som’thin’ that was his”. George and Lennie desperately
cling to the notion that they are different from other workers who
drift from ranch to ranch because, unlike the others, they have a
future and each other. However characters like Crooks and Curley's
wife serve as reminders that George and Lennie are no different from
anyone who wants something of his or her own.

Curley's wife has already had her dream of being an actress pass her
by and now must live a life of empty hope. Part of her dissatisfaction

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with her life is that it can never measure up to her dreams. Her
desire for recognition is emphasised by her lack of identity;
throughout the novel she remains nameless, known only to the reader as
‘Curley’s wife’. In fact, her dream, just like the American dream of
owning a piece of land is polluted and doomed to fail. All dreams,
according to Crooks in chapter four, are doomed:

“Just like heaven. Everybody wants a little piece of lan'. I read
plenty of books out here. Nobody never gets to heaven, and nobody gets
no land. It's just in their head."

George also commented on his lost dream:
"I think I knowed from the very first. I think I knowed we'd never do
her. He musta like to hear about it so much I got to thinking maybe we
would”
He no longer has a reason to save his pennies. Without a dream, his
life becomes sad and meaningless.

Crooks' situation hints at a much deeper oppression than that of the
white worker in America, the oppression of the black people. Through
Crooks, Steinbeck exposes the bitterness, the anger, and the
helplessness of a black American who struggles to be recognized as a
human being, let alone have a place of his own. Crooks' hopelessness
underlies that of George and Lennie, Candy and Curley's wife. But all
share the despair of wanting to change the way they live and achieve
something better. Even Slim, despite his wisdom and confidence, has
nothing to call his own and will, from what we are told, remain a
migrant worker until his death. Slim differs from the others in the
fact that he does not seem to want something outside of what he has,
he is not beaten by a dream, and he has not laid any schemes. Slim
seems to have somehow reached the sad conclusion, that to dream leads
to despair.
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