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With close attention to the linguistic, grammatical and structural features of Of Mice and Men (1937), how does Steinbeck represent attitudes to the American Dream?

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Introduction

With close attention to the linguistic, grammatical and structural features of Of Mice and Men (1937), how does Steinbeck represent attitudes to the American Dream? In Of Mice and Men (1937), John Steinbeck conveys the theme of the 'American Dream' and fleshes out its hypocrisies through a variety of characters. He uses realist and optimist characters providing us a diverse perspective on the dream. Throughout the book, we begin to understand how important the dream was back then. Steinbeck also displays the sexist and racist views upon woman and black men during that time. The title of the book derives from a poem in the 18th Century by Robert Burns: 'The best laid schemes of mice and men, Often go wrong, And leave us nothing but grief and pain, Instead of promised joy!'. It is about a mouse who carefully builds a winter nest in a wheat field, only for it to be destroyed by a ploughman. All the mouse ever wanted was warmth and security but has to face the reality of an inevitable fate. This poem runs perfectly parallel to the story of George and Lennie's fantasy eventually crushed by society. Already from the title can we predict a tragical end. The book is based around two bindle-stiffs, Lennie Small and George Milton. Lennie's name contradicts his physical features as he is strong and big. He's actually likened to an animal, 'the way a bear drags his paws'. On the other hand, 'Small' could be recognised as a metaphor for his limited intellect and the 'small' men who are crushed by society. This book is set during the age of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl. As a response to the lack of money and the richness of the land the dream consists of living 'off the 'fatta the land' and having 'nice clothes'. George and Lennie were typical victims of these crises. ...read more.

Middle

Steinbeck suggests it is in our nature to believe in the dream as we think they're different to others. Steinbeck says Lennie asked 'craftily' to George to tell the story. This is important as Lennie is a character who is likened to an animal or is more at one with nature. This shows even a man close to nature is able to think straight when discussing the dream, therefore it suggests it is natural to want to live in this manner, Also, even for a person who can't remember anything that happens can recite the words of the dream told by George. This also backs up the fact George is Lennie's master as Lennie only remembers what George says. George assures Lennie's belief in the dream through his optimistic certainty. Even though George may not believe in the dream he says 'we have a future'. This tone of voice and language will reassure Lennie. However, we feel that George has fooled himself into thinking also that the dream may become true. Therefore dream makes people think of themselves as someone special in order to convince themselves the dream will become a reality.Steinbeck suggests owning property is a privilege and is the "good life". He uses polysyndeton on 'and' to build up ideas: 'big vegetable patch and a rabbit hutch and chickens'. The use of 'and' instead of commas shows how George gets excited when he talks about the dream. He also uses hyperbole like 'cream so thick' and 'enough beans for four men'. They both resemble bounty and plenty. 'Cream' is fat and rich and it isn't essential in our daily lives so it is a luxury. Additionally they are going to live of the 'fatta the lan'. 'Fatta' also could suggest they don't want to stay as lean workers and want to have a life of plenty where they don't have to fear shortage. ...read more.

Conclusion

The story is cyclical so it shows how Lennie and George have gotten no where. Steinbeck brings the concept of stroking a dead mouse back only this time stroking a dead puppy. They have also come back next to the Salinas River. This suggests they have gotten nowhere, no closer to the dream than before. As George decided to make Lennie come back to the river suggests George foreboded something was going to happen. Therefore their destiny was already doomed.The last telling of the dream is kept for Lennie. When Lennie asks George if he can recite the dream again George doesn't hesitate to do it unlike other times. He has gotten back to using the word "will" again for old times sake. The dream's value has gone back down to a bedtime story, however only this time it is the last words Lennie will ever here before dying. The 'crash of the shot' is like closing the book of the bedtime story. As it has been an abrupt ending it suggests the dream died with Lennie. Throughout this book , Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck is very critical of the 'American Dream'. Steinbeck breaks down all barriers of men and reveals the true inner self of each character. Through Lennie and Georges exploration of .... Steinbeck portrays how men, on the inside, desperately crave for the dream but when they do get it, they take it for granted. We can establish that in Of Mice and Men, Steinbeck uses advanced linguistic, grammatical and structural techniques to outline how the American Dream is a phoney and can only ever be a dream. A dream which is too far beyond our reach. The harder they try, the closer they seem to get but fail, to feel more pathetic. * Lennie gets controlled by the dream and It ain't the same if I tell it * The deep and green / deep green pool may suggest the dream. green part - hard work * water snake and heron ...read more.

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