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What is Steinbeck saying about the idea of dreams in the novel? What characters have dreams and what does this show?

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Introduction

What is Steinbeck saying about the idea of dreams in the novel? What characters have dreams and what does this show? Most people have some kind of dream. A dream is something to indulge in, a means of escaping momentarily from the harsh reality of life. The beauty of a dream is that it gives a person a purpose in life. However these dreams are often thwarted by many obstacles along the way, as the characters of John Steinbeck's "Of mice and Men" discover. This is a novel of defeated hope and the unkind reality of the American Dream. The main characters, George and Lennie are poor migrant workers, condemned to a life of wandering and hard work in which they are never able to reap the fruits of their labour. ...read more.

Middle

George and Lennie desperately cling to the notion that they are different from other workers who drift from ranch to ranch because, unlike the others, they have a future and each other. However characters like Crooks and Curley's wife serve as reminders that George and Lennie are no different from anyone who wants something of his or her own. Curley's wife has already had her dream of being an actress pass her by and now must live a life of empty hope. Part of her dissatisfaction with her life is that it can never measure up to her dreams. Her desire for recognition is emphasised by her lack of identity; throughout the novel she remains nameless, known only to the reader as 'Curley's wife'. ...read more.

Conclusion

Through Crooks, Steinbeck exposes the bitterness, the anger, and the helplessness of a black American who struggles to be recognized as a human being, let alone have a place of his own. Crooks' hopelessness underlies that of George and Lennie, Candy and Curley's wife. But all share the despair of wanting to change the way they live and achieve something better. Even Slim, despite his wisdom and confidence, has nothing to call his own and will, from what we are told, remain a migrant worker until his death. Slim differs from the others in the fact that he does not seem to want something outside of what he has, he is not beaten by a dream, and he has not laid any schemes. Slim seems to have somehow reached the sad conclusion, that to dream leads to despair. ...read more.

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