To what extent does Steinbeck portray dreams as futile in Of Mice and Men?

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To what extent does Steinbeck portray dreams as futile in ‘Of Mice and Men’?

In Of Mice and Men, the hopes and dreams of the men on the ranch are a continuous focus and theme throughout the novel. John Steinbeck portrays the effects that dreams, or lack of them, have on the lives of the characters and the outcome of the novel. Steinbeck uses the concept of dreams at once to show hope and aspiration, as they invoke companionship with united determination for a better future, and to illustrate the difficulties of survival, with unrealised dreams illuminating the dark despair of society at that time.

Steinbeck presents dreams as a tool to aid the men of the ranch’s survival and happiness. They give a sense of purpose, a reward for long days of hard labour on the ranch. The idea of dreams prolonging survival and happiness is best portrayed by the dream and relationship shared by Lennie and George. George started looking after and traveling with Lennie on the request of Lennie’s Aunt Clara, and their joint dream to ‘ live off the fatta the lan’ has formed a strong bond and friendship between the pair, unusual in this hostile, competitive working environment .They need each other’s companionship to alleviate isolation and loneliness, and to make their dream seem more realistic. Lennie describes their relationship as such ‘We got each other, that’s what gives a hoot in hell about us’. They need each other and their dreams to survive, therefore in this instance Steinbeck does not portray dreams as futile.

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The dream becomes even more realizable when Candy asks to be part of it with them. He offers “S’pose I went in with you guys. Tha’s three hundred an’ fifty bucks I’d put in.” With more money and another person’s determination, there is new hope for the dream to become reality, perhaps even in the near future. Steinbeck uses this situation to convey that dreams are strengthened by companionship, and companionship is strengthened by a shared dream. At the end of the book when George intends to shoot Lennie, he distracts him by making him look into the distance ...

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