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How does Steinbeck present the hope of dream in contrast to the bitter reality of 1930s America?

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Introduction

How does Steinbeck present the hope of dream in contrast to the bitter reality of 1930?s America? Steinbeck?s Of mice and men Steinbeck builds up the hope of dreams and foreshadows failure of the ?American dream? as the story develops. Through several characters in the novel he presents the hopes and dreams that are in constant conflict with the bitter reality, The novel is set on a ranch where it is used by Steinbeck as a microcosm of the American Society during ?The Great Depression? . George, Lennie and Candy (3 migrant working friends) challenge the harsh reality of 1930?s America to earn money so that they can acquire their own farm. Steinbeck introduces the harsh reality of life through Crooks? cynical character, which doubts the ?American Dream? and makes it seem futile. Finally Curley? wife, a victim of the 1930?s society, presents the theme of shattered dreams towards the end of the novel where she speaks of her dream to earn fame and escape the harsh society of 1930?s America. In chapter 1, Steinbeck introduces the dream when George and Lennie speak of their dream ?live of the fatta the lan? and be independent. Steinbeck introduces this idealised dream and sense of hope to achieve the ?American Dream? at the start of the novel through George?s description of the dream farm. ...read more.

Middle

However, Crooks also has a dream to defeat loneliness and his enthusiasm to speak to someone can be signified through the quote ?It was difficult for crooks to conceal his pleasure with anger? Here the author reveals Crooks? internal conflict between his excitement to have company and to maintain a pessimistic and hard exterior. Crooks is not accustomed to having company, and therefore finds it ?difficult to conceal his pleasure? in speaking to Lennie and Candy. Later on in the novel Crooks also falls under the fallacy of the ?American Dream?. The fact that Crooks who has ?seen hundreds of men come by? immediately changes his view on the ?American Dream? intimates to the reader that the group had the potential to achieve the dream. (internal conflict) (vulnerable interior) Stienbeck also displays the hope of dream in conflict against reality through Curley?s wife and uses her a foreshadowing device. In the start of the novel Curely?s wife is depicted with negative connotations such as ?jail bait? revealing the harsh ways is which women were ostracised. The extra emphasis on colour red when she is introduced foreshadows the danger she may cause to George and Lennie?s dream. This idea is strengthened by the authors further choice of lexis to describe the setting when she is introduced ?For the rectangle of sunshine in the doorway was cut off? hereby Steinbeck introduces Curley?s wife as a danger to the dream which is replicated by the sunshine which has been ?cut off? foreshadowing her miseries which will cause George and Lennie?s failings. ...read more.

Conclusion

The use of the verb ?plucked? to describe the heron?s action reinforces this concept; that the dreams the men had could be so effortlessly and quickly destroyed despite how the men ?waved frantically? to try and achieve their dream. The writer?s intentions are to raise awareness of the issues that migrant workers faced. Firstly, that men had no control over their lives, where minor problems could end their plans as rapidly as a predator could eat their prey. Furthermore, the strong would unavoidably overpower the weak, causing their failings. His purpose is to reinforce the idea of how futile and repetitive the lives of migrant workers were during ?The Great Depression?, showing dream to mean nothing more than a way to boost their morale. This idea is extended through the description of ?another little water snake swam up? whilst the ?heron stood in the shallows, motionless and waiting?. This symbolises the lives of all migrant workers which were endless cycles of inescapable misery caused by harsh society of the world and evokes the theme of ?Every man was for himself?. In conclusion, the significant lesson that Steinbeck teaches us here is that during the ?Great Depression? the powerful ultimately controlled and exploited the weak in order to stay ahead. Also, Steinbeck strongly suggests that dreams were destined to fail under all circumstances in this unforgiving segregated society. Finally, Steinbeck leaves the reader which the idea that believing too deeply in the dream may delude from actually achieving anything. ...read more.

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