Steinbeck also presents the sense of hope and confidence that George and Lennie have building towards their dream farm in chapter 1. George differentiates them from other migrant workers by stating that ordinary workers work and ‘blow their stake’ .The statement ‘With us it ain’t like that’ here provides the clear suggestion that they perceive themselves as better off than other migrant workers. ‘ Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world’. Steinbeck re-introduces and anchors the possibility of the dreams. The use of the superlative ‘loneliest’ reinforces the isolation which migrant workers experienced. However, the use of divergent pronouns such as ‘us’, ‘we’ and ‘them’ establish their division from the rest of the migrant workers. Steinbeck repeatedly uses ‘got’ through out George’s monologue forcing the reader to believe that the pair are different to the conventional migrant workers. This can be furthered when George states ‘but not us’. This declarative sentence suggests their differentiation and better state from the ordinary migrant workers. Also it highlights the pair’s subconscious confidence in their dream.
Candy’s desperation is highlighted when he intervenes in George and Lennie’s discussion of their dream by saying ‘s’pose I went in with you guys. Tha’s three hundred an’ fifty bucks I’d put in.’ His immediate offer to join with the pair in this dream exposes Candy’s eagerness to leave the ranch and live a independent and trouble-free life on his own ranch away from the unforgiving society of 1930’s America.
His fear of being of fired from the ranch can be indicated when he further states ‘Jus’ as soon as I can’t swamp no bunk houses they’ll put me on the county.’ Candy exposes his physical weakness and fears being sacked once ‘he ‘can’t swamp no bunk houses’. Hereby the ranch is a microcosm of the unsecure and untrusted world where only the fittest will survive and the weak will not be offered a place in society.
In contrast, the author uses Crooks’ sceptic character to present bitter reality of the ‘American Dream’. Crooks, having experience many migrant workers immediately says ‘nuts’ when Lennie’s explains his dream. His sudden change in tone also indicates his bitter attitude towards the dream. Additionally, the declarative sentence ‘Hundreds of them.’ strengthens his confidence in the fallacy of this dream. This makes the reader question the reality of the dream, and makes the dream seem like it was ‘damn’ from the very beginning. However, Crooks also has a dream to defeat loneliness and his enthusiasm to speak to someone can be signified through the quote ‘It was difficult for crooks to conceal his pleasure with anger’ Here the author reveals Crooks’ internal conflict between his excitement to have company and to maintain a pessimistic and hard exterior. Crooks is not accustomed to having company, and therefore finds it ‘difficult to conceal his pleasure’ in speaking to Lennie and Candy. Later on in the novel Crooks also falls under the fallacy of the ‘American Dream’. The fact that Crooks who has ‘seen hundreds of men come by’ immediately changes his view on the ‘American Dream’ intimates to the reader that the group had the potential to achieve the dream. (internal conflict) (vulnerable interior)
Stienbeck also displays the hope of dream in conflict against reality through Curley’s wife and uses her a foreshadowing device. In the start of the novel Curely’s wife is depicted with negative connotations such as ‘jail bait’ revealing the harsh ways is which women were ostracised. The extra emphasis on colour red when she is introduced foreshadows the danger she may cause to George and Lennie’s dream. This idea is strengthened by the authors further choice of lexis to describe the setting when she is introduced ‘For the rectangle of sunshine in the doorway was cut off’ hereby Steinbeck introduces Curley’s wife as a danger to the dream which is replicated by the sunshine which has been ‘cut off’ foreshadowing her miseries which will cause George and Lennie’s failings. From these negative portrayals of Curley’s wife, the author may be intending to raise the issues of the cruel ways in which women were perceived and regarded. However As the story progresses we discover her true personality and state. Throughout the novel she repeatedly speaks to the workers, which is unusual in a society where the rich were segregated from the poor this indirectly signifies to the reader an idea that Curley’s wife was lonely. This idea is reinforced when she says ‘Think I don’t like to talk somebody ever’ once in a while?’. Toward the end of the novel she states ‘ I coulda made something of myself.’ Hereby she reveals her desperation to escape from the harsh society of 1930’s America where women were victims of society and only belonged to the house. The authors use of lexis to describe Curley’s wife ‘She went on with her story quickly, before she could be interrupted’ the lexis ‘quickly’ highlights her desperation to speak to someone and confidence about obtaining her dream
Despite the fact that George repeatedly speaks of their dream, towards the end he reveals his uncertainty in the dream. ‘I think I knowed from the very first. I think I knowed we’d never do her.’ Hereby the repetition of the lexis ‘I knowed’ indicates the failure of the dream and the makes the reader aware that most migrant workers like George and Lennie knew that they ‘never’ achieve their dream, and was only a way to boost their morale. This is also reinforced by use of past tense to make the reader feel that George knew that the dream was intangible from the very beginning and was ‘never’ achievable from the very beginning of the novel. The diction ‘never’ emphasises the tough world in which the lower class’ their dreams were destined to fail under all circumstances. This conclusion is extended when George says ‘I’ll work month…I’ll stay all night in some lousy cathouse. Or I’ll set in some poolroom …. I’ll come back an’work another month.’ This is a stark contrast to chapter 1 where George separates himself and Lennie from ordinary migrant workers, by using the exact same words to describe the actions of other migrant workers George indicates the failure of the dream and now considers himself an ordinary migrant worker. Steinbeck implies that migrant workers had a repetitive lifestyle with hardly any control over their life. Lastly the use of adjectives such as ‘lousy’ highlights the dull and boring life that the migrant workers had.
The Salinas river at the end of novella reflects of the lives of the migrant workers, parallels the failure of the ‘American Dream’ and reveals the cycle of suffering the migrant workers were stuck in. ‘came to the legs of a motionless heron… a silent head and beak.’ The heron is described as ‘motionless’ and ‘silent’ evoking the impression of furtiveness and suppression. This symbol used by Steinbeck intimates to the reader that the powerful would ultimately overpower the weak with furtiveness regardless of how eager and how hard they tried to achieve the dream. The use of the verb ‘plucked’ to describe the heron’s action reinforces this concept; that the dreams the men had could be so effortlessly and quickly destroyed despite how the men ‘waved frantically’ to try and achieve their dream. The writer’s intentions are to raise awareness of the issues that migrant workers faced. Firstly, that men had no control over their lives, where minor problems could end their plans as rapidly as a predator could eat their prey. Furthermore, the strong would unavoidably overpower the weak, causing their failings. His purpose is to reinforce the idea of how futile and repetitive the lives of migrant workers were during ‘The Great Depression’, showing dream to mean nothing more than a way to boost their morale. This idea is extended through the description of ‘another little water snake swam up’ whilst the ‘heron stood in the shallows, motionless and waiting’. This symbolises the lives of all migrant workers which were endless cycles of inescapable misery caused by harsh society of the world and evokes the theme of ‘Every man was for himself’.
In conclusion, the significant lesson that Steinbeck teaches us here is that during the ‘Great Depression’ the powerful ultimately controlled and exploited the weak in order to stay ahead. Also, Steinbeck strongly suggests that dreams were destined to fail under all circumstances in this unforgiving segregated society. Finally, Steinbeck leaves the reader which the idea that believing too deeply in the dream may delude from actually achieving anything.