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How does Steinbeck introduce and develop the themes of dreams and reality in 'Of Mice and Men'.

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Introduction

How does Steinbeck introduce and develop the themes of dreams and reality in 'Of Mice and Men' Throughout John Steinbeck's, 'Of Mice and Men,' dreams of marginalized characters are explored and developed. They dream to be accepted; have a better way of life - but something always seems to get in the way of these dream; they fail as soon as things seem to become possible. The book was based and written during a time in which many farmers went into heavy debt due to a recession and the Wall Street Crash. The living standards for migrant workers were low due to lack of work; heavy farming took place which caused soil to erode. This was worsened by a seven year drought which lasted from 1931 and turned the Great Plains into 'dust bowls.' Hundreds of thousands of farmers and migrant workers began to move to California, this was because of numerous reasons - but mainly because California was seen as the 'promised land.' Many migrant workers moved to California in hope of a new life with higher standards of living. This was known as the American Dream. Every marginalized character in 'Of Mice And Men' has a dream, one of the biggest dreams in the story is that of George Milton and Lennie Small. ...read more.

Middle

After the shooting of his dog, Candy is very upset and in a way lost because his dog was always his companion - "I had 'im ever since he was a pup." He sees George and Lennie's dream as an opportunity to start a new life and tries to buy his way into the dream by offering a considerable amount of money - "S'pose I went in with you guys. Tha's three hundred an' fifty bucks I'd put in." He does this as he is extremely lonely now without his dog and as a marginalized character an opportunity to start a new life is infrequent. The stable buck, named Crooks because he had previously had an accident with a horse and had been left crippled, also had dreams. Crooks was a well educated man and read frequently, Candy says - "He reads a lot. He got books in his room." However intelligent Crooks was he would always be low in the social hierarchy of the ranch because he was black. He dreamt of becoming accepted and to moving up the social hierarchy of the ranch - the reality was that as a black person in the 1920s he would always be marginalized due to the lack of black people in that area - "And now there ain't a coloured man on this ranch an' there's jus' one family in Soledad." ...read more.

Conclusion

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. ...read more.

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