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A major motif of John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men is the American dream and the drive to attain it.

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Introduction

The Significance of Dreams in Of Mice and Men A major motif of John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men is the American dream and the drive to attain it. The life of a ranch hand is grim, yet the characters in the novel are still vulnerable to dreams of a better life. The dream of owning land, called the American dream by some, is what motivates George and Lennie in their work on the ranch. It is their friendship that sustains this dream and makes it possible. While the dreams are credible to the reader, in the end all dreams are crushed, and the characters are defeated by their circumstances. The characters in Of Mice and Men have very little to look forward to as migrant ranch hands. They travel from ranch to ranch with all of their possessions in a bundle, looking for work for fifty dollars a month, and that work does not usually last very long. If a man is a good worker, he might be kept on at the ranch indefinitely and wind up as Candy does, old and crippled, just waiting until he is no longer useful. ...read more.

Middle

The willows that are "fresh and green", the "golden foothills", "yellow sands" and the "twinkling" of the river sugar a play before the eye of green, gold, light, innocence and glory. These images enhance the sense of youth, purity, cleansing and renewal of the Salinas River, almost giving us the impression that this environment is sacramental. Steinbeck intends for us to see this setting initially as one of innocent nature. As in the story of creation in Genesis, everything is in harmonious order and the river brings new life. The use of alliteration in the description of the river when its "water" is described as "warm" is a sound of harmony. It is a place of refuge and is full of animals such as the "rabbits" that "sit on the sand in the evening," the "'coons" that have made "tracks" on the "damp-flats" during the night and the deer that have made "split-wedge tracks" on the ground. The lizard that "makes a great skittering" creates a scene of great tranquillity, as does the sense of silence, which is so extreme that we can hear that "skittering" is onomatopoeic. ...read more.

Conclusion

It is also vital to have recreational activity in order to establish a relationship. In the bunkhouse, the men have little possibility for constructive recreation. One of the few games we see them engage themselves in is cards which they play tediously and aimlessly. It is the lack of entertainment makes the men susceptible to brothels, drink and fighting. These are some of the chief ways in which the men show themselves to be shaped by the environment. We immediately become aware of such habits as soon as we meet Candy who describes Christmas and the way in which the men drank "a whole gallon of whiskey" and "took after the nigger". This not only demonstrates the drinking habits of the men but also the way in which they resort to violence as a form of entertainment. Here, the "nigger" being referred to is the stable buck, Crooks. He is the object of violence due to the racism that was present in America during the thirties. It is therefore evident that the harsh conditions of the bunkhouse give rise to the shaping of the characters. ...read more.

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