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Discuss the ways in which Steinbeck explores the concept of the 'American Dream' is central to the novel

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Introduction

Discuss the ways in which Steinbeck explores the concept of the 'American Dream' is central to the novel "Of Mice & Men" The American Dream was a dream that nearly everyone had throughout the twentieth century. It was hope for a better life and people believed strongly that it would come true. The main characters in 'Of Mice & Men' have a dream which was to get a plot of land and live on it and become self-sufficient. The American Dream was not an achievable goal for many people. Steinbeck shows this failure through the characters of Lennie & George. The American dream was a great thing. We first heard about it when Lennie and George were sitting by the river at the beginning of the book. The dream was a hope that every rancher had an opportunity for a better life. Lennie and George, the two main characters, had such a dream, "Some day were gonna get a little place and a couple of acres". The idea was to get a piece of land, grow crops and have an improved life there. They also new exactly what they were aiming for and what they wanted. They realised that their imagination should not be set too high for fear of disappointment. The two men also knew that they should not tell other people about the plot of land in case it was snatched from under their noses. This frequently happened then, as so many people were seeking the same desire., "Well it's ten acres said George. ...read more.

Middle

This was quite normal for young and old men in their quest, not just for the dream, but for survival. Because of that, it made it hard for people to keep a job as other people who were as desperate, came along and accepted less pay to work at the same job, just so they could get some money. The idea of the American Dream was to be happy but just as well as the Great depression, racism also crippled the illusion. The dream was merely for the whites, as many of the blacks were unlawfully discarded from the opportunity or status to achieve it. Steinbeck shows this in the book through a character called Crooks, who was a crippled Negro stable buck and had suffered years of abuse in his life. Although Crooks could read and write, he was very lonely and because he was black, he could not join in with the usual endeavours of other men on the ranch. "Suppose you had to sit out here and read books. Sure you could play horseshoes till it gets dark, but then you got to read books". This shows he only had books for company. It was still very racist in the 1930's so there was not much chance of Crooks achieving the dream by himself and certainly no one at that time would try to help. In the course of the book Crooks also tells us about his life in the past, how his father did actually achieve the dream, and how his family was the only coloured family in Soledad, which is where the book was set. ...read more.

Conclusion

If given the chance most men on the farm would attempt the dream even if they thought it was impossible. A good example is Crooks, at one point in the story, he was putting down the fact of any one achieving their goal, "Jesus I seen it too many time. Too many guys with land in their head. They never get none under their hand". When Crooks found out that there was a chance of it happening, he decided on trying to get in on it, "If you guys would want a hand to work for nothing, just his keep, why I'd come an lend a hand". You can see also that people always put down the achievement of the dream, but they all had a secret burning ambition to get it if the chance came around. Through out the book Steinbeck managed to portray the conditions of the Great Depression in the 1930's. He also gave us a glimpse of The American Dream that every one pursued and showed us that it was not an easy achievement. Steinbeck has managed to show the different levels of hardship and suffering that people faced during that period of time and also managed to show more hopeless situations of people from a minority. The concept of the American Dream is at the heart of the novel 'Of Mice & Men' and therefore allows Steinbeck to make comments on American Society and the time of the Great Depression. Khalid Al mashgari 10 gs 1 ...read more.

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