Explain how the idea of the American Dream is explored in 'Of Mice and Men'. You should discuss how the novel describes the attraction of the dream and how it shows the dreams of characters being dashed

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Ayiesha Buckle                07/05/2007

Explain how the idea of the American Dream is explored in ‘Of Mice and Men’. You should discuss how the novel describes the attraction of the dream and how it shows the dreams of characters being dashed

The title, Of Mice and Men, came from the saying “The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray and leave us nothing but pain for what might have been”.  This is such a well-chosen name for the novel because it explains the factors leading to the characters’ dreams. The novel was written during the Great Depression of 1930 in the United States of America.  It tells the tragic story of George and Lennie, two displaced  itinerant farm workers in  during the  (1929-1939). The story is set on a ranch, a few miles from  in the . In the following essay I will explain their dreams.  I will also show how they plan to fulfil these dreams.  Also I will clarify what finally happens to their dreams.

It is human nature to have dreams, or the hopes one has for the future.  Even dreams that are never accomplished are good, because they keep people going on when they normally would have given up.  Dreams are something to look forward to, something to fantasize about.  A dream is something one indulges in, to escape momentarily from life.  In the book, Of Mice and Men, dreams are what every character seems to be craving.  In George and Lennie’s case, that something is land.  It is natural for men in their situation, itinerant workers in the Great Depression, to imagine working on their own land and being their own bosses.  Their dream is simple in some ways yet very complex in others.  The dream apparently began as just a story that George told Lennie, perhaps as a way of calming Lennie down, or to keep him focused on working, but after some time, it seemed that George started to believe in the dream himself.  George’s dream, although it was basically the same as Lennie’s, is probably more detailed and complicated  and Candy, Crooks and Curley's wife, who although possess dreams, either have no one to share them with or have no hopes of ever reaching them. Everyone can dream but clearly, the ability to dream is inextricably tied to having someone to share that dream with.

Lennie and George have a dream, which they have thought out very thoroughly.  ‘We gotta get a big stake together’, this conveys that their dream is to make a stake, around ‘six hundred dollars’.  With this stake they plan to buy a piece of land, ‘a couple of acres’.  On this piece of land they could ‘have a little house…an’ a cow and some pigs’.  They also say ‘We’ll have a big vegetable patch and a rabbit-hutch and chickens’.  They could do anything they wanted on this land because they would be their own bosses. However, I believe that in chapter 6 George is describing Heaven to Lennie, rather than the little farm.  Lennie thinks as far as feeding and petting the rabbits ‘Le’s do it now’, but George thinks about the details of the plan, such as how they would earn enough money, what things they would grow, and the possibility of actually living off the land. Yet this is what they thought, the dream gradually evaporated throughout the novel.  The author, John Steinbeck, illustrates this evaporation through a series of incidents involving Lennie and his interactions with other characters in the novel.

It all started with the incident in Weed where Lennie had to ‘feel a girl’s dress’ and she cried out that he was ‘raping’ her.  George and Lennie had to hide in a cesspool while men went looking for them.  This made George very cautious of Lennie’s actions and was disappointed to have to run away.

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Lennie later, a few miles south of Soledad by the Salinas River, killed a mouse.  ‘Jus’ a dead mouse, George.  I didn’t kill it. Honest! I found it.  I found it dead’, this conveys that Lennie is ashamed at having disappointed George.  However George isn’t pleased ‘Give it here!’ this conveys George as quite an overpowering person and very demanding because ‘Lennie’s closed hand slowly obeyed’. The reader, at this stage, would take this as foreshadowing for events later in the book.

Lennie’s next unfortunate incident was with Curley when ‘Curley stepped over to Lennie like a terrier’.  It wasn’t ...

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