How significant is the concept of the American Dream in the novel Of Mice and Men?
The question is asking how John Steinbeck incorporates the American Dream in this novel. George and Lennie’s desperation to attain this dream inspires them to work harder. It’s a target that they desire to meet and achieve together. To decide whether it’s really momentous in the novel, close analysis has to take place.
First we have to define the terms used to get better understanding of the story and of the characters.
The word dream has many meaning to it. The first is an illusion. You can become deluded if you think its real but its not. Dream can also mean an aim or objective. Steps can be made to make an aim a reality. If this is done, you’ve got an ambition.
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In Of Mice and Men, there were two types of dreams mentioned: the American one and the modern. These terms will also have to be defined to help in answering the question.
American means a native or inhabitant of the United States. The story is set in Salinas, California. California was known as the ‘promise land’ back in the time of The Great Depression as it’s the place farmers and landless labourers moved to in order to search for work. If you place the word American with dream using these two meanings, you may end up with a slightly odd one. The American Dream is not an illusion that only people from America have. The definition is changed completely to achievement of independence and freedom through working hard “an live off the fatta the lan’”
Modern is a word used about things related to the modern era. The Modern American Dream is the dream, which the Classical American Dream has transformed in to. It has changed to obtaining wealth, power and fame through as little work as possible. This is a big change from wanting simple things like independence through as much work as it takes.
The word significant is defined as important in effect or meaning. This meaning helps us in the understanding of the question.
Steinbeck has also reflected these definitions through the characters, relating different characters to different dreams.
To George and Lennie, the Classical American Dream is seen as very important. George often tells Lennie the dream, “we’re gonna get the jack together and we’re gonna have a little house and a couple of acres…”.
The Dream may also symbolise love as the passion for Curley and his wife (whos name is not mentioned) is not very strong but is a contrasting parallel to candy and his dog. George and Lennie also share this love, however they are not so close, but it is still a parallel.
I feel very devoted to this book as it brings me joy and comfort every time I extinguish the flames from my heart while reading this heart-breaking story. By doing this I have great expectations ( another great novel you may be studying) for George and it kills me when Lennie is shot in the back of the head ‘” he won’ feel a tin’”’.