Discuss how Steinbeck is exploring the significance of dreams in
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Discuss how Steinbeck is exploring the significance of dreams in "Of Mice and Men" One of the themes in "Of mice and Men" by John Steinbeck is the dreams that people have during the American Depression. He explores the sufferings they had, which is why he probably chose the title "Of Mice and Men" for his novel. He probably compared the lives of men in America in the American Depression with the lives of mice and how similar they were; the men in that time had to keep moving around the country searching for a job and mice had to keep moving because their home were constantly destroyed by the farmer as portrayed in the poem 'To a Mouse' by Robert Burns. In the book he explores the dreams the men and one woman have on a ranch outside the California's Salinas Valley, the place where he spent his childhood. Because of his experience of living in the Salinas ranch, it enables him to create believable characters by giving them proper 'American Slang' accents and also give a good description of the Salinas. The author may have thought the dreams as a significant part of people's lives; something that acted as a hope and future. Some characters, such as Slim and Carlson, do not talk about dreams; this may suggest that dreams are only for discontented characters. John Steinbeck enters the main characters, George and Lennie who are two men travelling around the country looking for jobs as Lennie always gets "in trouble" and loses "ever' job" they get, into the setting of the California's Salinas Valley. From the very beginning of the book I can see that John Steinbeck's style of writing is plain and simple, which makes the visualisation of the setting very real. Even though the setting is very descriptive in most parts of the story, Steinbeck still uses plain language but with minimal adjectives so it is enough for the reader to imagine what he wants.
In this chapter, he uses words such as "lazy", "humming" and "buzz", these words give a calm and soft effect on the setting, which prepares for Curley's wife's sad past. The writer also creates the tranquil mood by using different contrasts of light. In this chapter he writes that "the afternoon sun sliced in through the cracks of the barn walls," the feeling of afternoon sun is in a cool barn seems bright and soothing. The stillness in the barn, which gives a silent atmosphere, is made aware to the reader by making them explore around the barn. John Steinbeck describes the setting as if the reader can see all around them, he takes their mind's eye around the setting step by step. In the sentence "the afternoon sun sliced in through the cracks of the barn walls and lay in bright lines on the hay" shows Steinbeck's technique; he first wants you to focus on the sunlight coming through the cracks of the barn and then he makes you follow the light onto the hay. Steinbeck not only wants his readers to be aware of the inside surroundings but also distant surroundings and he does this by using sounds. In chapter five, even though the setting is in the barn, Steinbeck makes the reader aware of what is happening outside by writing about "the clang of horse-shoes on the playing peg and the shouts of men, playing, encouraging, jeering." This also perhaps adds to the soundless and calm atmosphere in the barn. The noiseless atmosphere also enables the reader's full attention to the dialogues, which only seem to be the voices of the characters. This also happens in chapter four, where Crooks shares his opinion of men's dreams and talks about his childhood when "white kids come to play" with him and everyone was equal. The objects in the "harness room" are stationary; the writer makes the reader discover Crook's room where "there were pegs on which hung broken harnesses."
She dreams of becoming an actress - "He says he was gonna put me in the movies." This was very unlikely in reality as very few opportunities came along to become an actress, it was also likely that the man who promised to make her an actress was using her. When she never received a letter from the man that promised to fulfil her dream she married Curley. The dream became virtually impossible after she married Curley; a wife was expected to settle down with their husband. In Steinbecks 'Of Mice And Men,' marginalized characters try to suppress their depressions by dreaming of better lives. Characters like Crooks and Curley's wife dream of moving up the social hierarchy on the ranch and being accepted, but being the only women and the only black man on the ranch this is impossible, so they chase other dreams. Curley's wife dreams of living her own life trying to become an actress and Crooks becomes apart of George and Lennie's dream at the first opportunity. The dream that George and Lennie have is one which opens up the possibility of a new life for not only George and Lennie but Candy and Crooks as well. It is a revelation for several of the marginalised characters who begin to see light at the end of the tunnel. However when these dreams become a possibility they are dashed by silly mistakes. The corrupting power of women is shown, along side the 'curse that Lennie possesses, to dash the hopes these dreams. The reality that if George and Lennie do not save every penny they have they will never be able to afford the farm is mentioned by Crooks and the killing of Curley's wife is foreshadowed by the assault on a woman in Weed and the death of Lennie's dog. The characters are seduced by the chance of living a life of independence and freedom and become blind to the grim reality that it will never materialise.
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