Kalpesh Bamania 10.1
GCSE Coursework assignment
‘Of Mice and Men’
By John Steinbeck
“‘Of Mice and Men’ is a deeply moving story of an unusual friendship. Lennie is an affectionate giant with the mind of a child. George has travelled with him for many months as they move around to find work. George grows close to Lennie despite the trouble Lennie’s innocence and strength Bring on them both. Lennie loves animals, and desperately wants to be able to look after a pet of his own, but his innocence and love of beautiful things in nature only leads to tragedy, for himself and for his friend.”
In this essay, I am going to write about the social and historical context of ‘Of Mice and Men’, and how the dreams of certain people in the ranch went wrong and ended in tragedy. Most of the characters in ‘Of Mice and Men’ admit, at one point or another, to dreaming of a different life. Before her death, Curley’s wife confesses her desire to be a movie star. Crooks allows himself the for the fantasy of hoeing a patch of garden on Lennie’s farm one day, and Candy latches on desperately to George’s vision of owning a couple of acres.
John Steinbeck wrote this novel because he wanted people to realise the consequences of the great American depression between 1930 and 1940. It showed how people interacted with each other and it showed the misery of the economical depression and how poor and different race people were treated. In ‘Of Mice and Men’ Steinbeck describes how punishing and challenging the life of migrant farmers could be. Just as George and Lennie dream of a better life on their own farm, these farmers dreamed of finding a better life in their world. The state where they lived promised a climate for a longer growing season and it offered more opportunities to harvest crops. Despite these promises, very few found it to be the land of opportunity and plenty of which they dreamed.
This is a preview of the whole essay
George and Lennie are migrant American labourers. George protects his friend from the insecure world and shares with him a dream of one day settling down and farming their own land to live a better life. The farm that George describes to Lennie, the few acres of land on which they will grow their own crops, is one of the most powerful symbol in the book. It shows the reader to believe in the possibility of the freedom it promises. The dream of owning a farm was their great American dream, which the hopeful couple expected to become a reality. They were inspiring success for their dream because they were different from the others, as George explains to Lennie in the novel “Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world. They got no family. They don’t belong no place…With us it ain’t like that. We got a future. We got somebody to talk to that gives a damn about us.”
Lennie’s innocence raises him to a pure goodness. His passion for the vision of their future farm proves communicable as he convinces George, Candy, Crooks that such dream might be possible. However, Lennie is a character whom Steinbeck sets up for disaster, a character whose innocence only to ensure him destruction. George wanted freedom to live in safety and comfort with Lennie, free from the people like Curley and Curley’s wife, who suppose to exist only to cause trouble for them. Lennie is responsible for George’s belief in this safe world, but eventually the nature of the world asserts itself and George can no longer maintain that belief. By shooting Lennie, George spares his friend’s death that would be delivered by Curley, but he also puts his own dream into rest of a perfect world.
One of the book’s major themes revolves around Candy. The old handyman, left with only one hand as the result of an accident, worries that the boss soon will state him useless and order that he leave the ranch, as he explained to George and Lennie “They’ll can me purty soon. Jus’ as soon as I can’t swamp out no bunk-house”. Candy’s dog, once a sheepherder but now toothless, smelling and aged support’s Candy’s fear. Soon the dog said goodbye to Candy, as Carlson makes clear when he insists that Candy let him put the dog out of misery.
For a brief time, the dream of living out of his days with George and Lennie on their dream farm distracts Candy from this reality. He deems the few acres of land they described worthy of his earned life’s savings. Like George, Candy sticks to the idea of having the freedom to take up aside work he chooses. So strong is his attachment to this idea that, even after he discovers that Lennie has killed Curley’s wife, he pleads for himself and George to go ahead and buy the farm as planed.
Kalpesh Bamania 10.1
‘Of Mice and Men’ is not kind in it’s description of women. Steinbeck describes women as troublemakers who bring ruin on men and drive them mad. Curley’s wife, who walks the ranch, is a prime example of this destructive tendency. Curley’s wife is an interesting character. Although her purpose is simple in the novel’s opening pages, she is the “tart”, “tramp”, and “bitch” that threatens to destroy male happiness and longevity. Her appearance later in the novel becomes simpler. When she tells Lennie, Candy, and Crooks in the stable, admitting her feeling to be shameless with her life. Before her death her weakness at this moment and later changes when she admits to Lennie her dream of becoming a movie star, and how she may will yet, “I coulda made something of myself Maybe I will yet.” This makes her human and much more interesting.
Before the action of the novel began, circumstances have robbed her wishes of becoming a movie star. She has prepared to accept herself to an unfulfilling marriage that had untarnished happiness, for the freedom to follow her own desires.
Crooks is a lively, sharp-witted, black stableman, who takes his name from his crooked back. Like Curley’s wife, Crooks is a powerless character that turns his weakness into a weapon to attack those who are even weaker. He plays a cruel game with Lennie, suggesting to him that George is gone for good, “S’pose George don’t come back no more. S’pose he took a powder and just ain’t coming back.” Only when Lennie threatens him with physical violence does he give up. What Crook dreams and wants more than anything else is a sense of belonging, to enjoy simple pleasure such as the right to enter the bunkhouse. This desire would explain why, even though he has reason to doubt George and Lennie’s talk about the farm that they want to own, Crooks cannot help but ask if there might be room for him to come along and hoe in the garden. However, his desires would never come true because of the time he lived, a time where such dreams for him were impossible to become a reality.
All of these dreams were typically American dreams where dreamers wish for untarnished happiness, for the freedom to follow their own desires. George and Lennie’s dream of owning a farm, which would enable them to sustain themselves, and, most important, offer them protection from an inhospitable world, represents typically American ideal. Their journey, which awakens George to the impossibility of this dream, sadly proves that Crooks is right that such paradise of freedom and safety are not to be found in this world.