Explain why dreams and plans are so important in 'Of Mice and Men'.

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English Essay – ‘Of Mice and Men’ by John Steinbeck

Explain why dreams and plans are so important in ‘Of Mice and Men’

George and Lennie are examples of ‘migrant’ or ‘itinerant’ farm workers who fuelled and made possible the intensive farming economy. These men would travel great distances, however they could, often by foot, or by the empty boxcars that were later used to carry the grain they helped to farm. They would receive $2.50 - $3.00 a day, plus board, which meant food and a room. The food would be very basic, the room sometimes not more than a small tent shared with many other workers. Conditions did improve for migrant farm workers at the start of the First World War, because of the industrial action in the USA at that time forced an increase in wages and therefore an increase in the price of grain. But at the time John Steinbeck wrote ’Of Mice and Men’, advances in technology were rendering many of the farm workers obsolete, because of the improvements in industry and machinery.

        Before machinery came onto the farm, the mule driver was at the top of the social tree on the ranch, because of his high skills. Slim was this figure in ‘Of Mice and Men’, and he probably commanded a high wage compared to the other ranch workers.

        The key dream throughout ‘Of Mice and Men’ is the dream that George and Lennie gradually show us. This was the dream of most workers in all of the USA, and George, Lennie, Candy, and all the other workers on the farm all have the same dream, to own a smallholding or a small farm. Such an acquisition would mean that they would be their own boss, and make a basic but good living from their own work, instead of having nothing to show for a lifetime of hard work. America was first populated by people who came from nearly every country of the world, believing that they could escape and find their dreams in the new country where they believed there was no persecution or hatred. Others saw it as an escape from hard poverty or starvation. The American dream was focused on the fact that it represented a dream of wealth and success, and allowed men and women to have a fresh start in another country that they could build themselves. This dream survived until the late 1920’s, when the Wall Street Crash caused the Great Depression to start, and people learned that there was no more land to be bought and farmed. All the intensive farming over the years had caused the ‘dustbowl’, and many people who had borrowed money to build the farms in the dustbowl, could not now repay the money, because of the wasted land, with no farming value.

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        The dream that George and Lennie had was becoming history. The dream of their freedom and independence was doomed right from the start of the novel. When Lennie is being pursued at the end of the book, George recites the dream to Lennie, before he shoots him. Lennie dies at George’s hands, and the dream is just as doomed as Lennie.

                Lennie, George, Candy and temporarily Crooks all are shown to have the dream of a small farm. It is the dream that was shared by hundreds of ranch hands at the time.

        The title for the book ‘Of ...

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