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What does Steinbeck's portrayal of the theme of dreams in Of Mice and Men reveal about the context in which he wrote the novel?

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Introduction

Of Mice and Men Q. What does Steinbeck's portrayal of the theme of dreams in Of Mice and Men reveal about the context in which he wrote the novel? Steinbeck sets the novel 'Of Mice and Men' during the time of the American Depression. This was a particularly difficult time for migrant workers as work was scarce and hard to find, even though employment agencies such as "Murray and Ready's" were established to help with this problem. The dreams as described in the novel can tell the reader much about the circumstances at the time. For example George and Lennie's dream of "having a place to call their own" suggest that workers did not often have a place to call their own or stability in their lives. George and Lennie's dream is a microcosm of the 'American Dream', which would have been familiar to readers of the time. As previously stated Steinbeck sets the novel 'Of Mice and Men' during the time of the American Depression, this was for the most part a strenuous time for farm workers as work was in short supply and hard to find. Many migrant workers were forced to move from farm to farm in order to get work. ...read more.

Middle

An example of this situation is when George and Lennie first meet the Boss at the ranch and the boss thought that George was "takin' his pay away from him" because George answered for Lennie saying "he can do anything you tell him". The boss suspected at first that Lennie was a trouble maker but this is not the case, Lennie is just unaware of rights and wrongs. Soon after in the novel George and Lennie meet Curley's wife her dreams to be "in the movies" and to have "nice clothes" and to speak "in the radio", were familiar to women in the 1930s because show business was getting bigger and better paid and more glamorous. At that time women were a subordinate class than men and were not properly educated as Curley's wife, who is not even given a real name throughout the novel, which was shown through her childlike grammar along with her need for attention. Curley's wife's dreams are already tarnished as she is married to Curley and a wife was expected to stay at home look after the home, have children and to look pretty. She is not fulfilled with this and says she "don't like Curley", but she married him on the realization that her dreams would not come true. ...read more.

Conclusion

Later on in the novel he is called a "tall man" and by the way he is described he seems to be a good man. Nearing the end of chapter two he is described with words such as "majesty", "royalty", "master craftsmen" which shows that he is greatly respected by most at the ranch. He seems not to have any dreams and to be happy enough except that of having a woman, the reader finds that out by the way he acts when with Curley's wife. Curley has what many men merely dreamt of yet he is till unhappy and doesn't appreciate having a home to stay in 1 place, instead he busies himself with making mischief with men that are bigger than him such as Lennie who is harmless if you know how to be around him but Curley provoked and confused Lennie and ended up getting hurt. In conclusion it would appear that one of the main ideas running through the novel is that the dreams depict the characters hopes and aspirations for their future; for instance the "Great American Dream". However what is clearly shown is that the moral of the novel is that dreams are often hoped for but seldom achieved. For throuout the novel there is a strong sense of pessimism. ...read more.

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