Discuss the ways in which Steinbeck explores how the concept of the 'American Dream'is central to the novel Of Mice and Men "We've got a future and we're gonna get a place" The American Dream

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Discuss the ways in which Steinbeck explores how the concept of the ‘American Dream’is central to the novel Of Mice and Men

“We’ve got a future and we’re gonna get a place”

The American Dream is an ideal that has been ‘dreamt’ of since America was founded. The American Dream symbolises happiness, prosperity, equality and freedom. It was a strong idea, believed and supported by many, including most of the characters in the novel. People used the idea of the American Dream to help them stay positive, in what could be for some, quite a lonely and bleak life. For example, George used his and Lennie’s hope of one day owning a farm to help Lennie progress and keep him happy when something had gone wrong. Even today, people still believe America to be the ‘Land of Opportunity’ and thousands of people each year try to become an American citizen in the hope that their life would improve. However, it was, and still is not, the perfect life it lived up to be.

        The main and most obvious link between the novel and the idea of an American Dream is George and Lennie’s hope of one day owning a farm, “An’ live off the fatta the land” (page 14). The American Dream is the predominant theme throughout the entire novel, from the first few pages until the very end, when Lennie is killed. It is a dream that they both truly believe and the think that one day it will come true. It tells us that George and Lennie, like many other characters in the book, want to achieve something better with their lives and get out of the rut of working on ranch after ranch. The other characters each have dreams of their own, ideas of how their life could be and what they could accomplish. Steinbeck, often hints that other men have had a dream, one time that he does this is when, in the opening chapter, he says “a well-worn path that has been made by many feet” (page 1), saying that many men had passed along the path on the way to the next ranch or maybe, on the way to completing their dream. Curley’s wife often tells us that she “Coulda been in the movies, an’ had nice clothes” (page 94), she holds on to the dream, as if it tells us that she could have done better and her life may have been different to her present lonely state, if she had followed up the proposition and not settled down and simply married Curley, letting him drag her down. Another person with a dream is Candy, who joins in on George and Lennie’s dream of the farm, and even offers to chip in towards buying the farm, saying that he only has a few years of his life left, and he wants to spend them in a happy place where he is comfortable. Afterwards, when Curley’s wife is dead, Candy looks upon her and blames her for not being able to realise his dream anymore: “Ever’body knows you’d mess things up” (page 101). The characters may have these dreams because they believe that they will actually happen, or maybe just to mentally keep them going.

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         Although the American Dream was, and in some areas still is, such a strong idea, for most people the dream really was, quite simply a dream and for the large majority, unobtainable. Steinbeck often suggests that George and Lennie’s dream is impossible, as are the other characters dreams. He subtly hints that George and Lennie will never buy their dream farm and enjoy their ideal life, when Lennie is in the barn talking to the stablebuck, Crooks, a bitter, ill man who is treated badly due to the fact that he is black, tells Lennie that George might go ...

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