Dreams in Of Mice and Men
!.?.!? Of Mice and Male Imagine Mice and Men is set in Salinas, California in the 1930s Great Anxiety. Life was hard and men might be vicious. Hope may be the only escape from tough reality. This links to the American Dream– represented in George and Lennie’s imagine working hard and getting their own land and farm, and control over their own lives. But it was more difficult than ever to attain due to the difficult financial conditions of the Depression. After Lennie’s death, it may be possible for George to understand his dream, but the emptiness at the end of the novel reveals that financial success is nothing when you are lonely.
So the dream is not simply something to own, or possess, but also something to share. ‘Empathy and like’, to Steinbeck– as detailed in his Nobel Prize speech are the most essential things, as is ‘hope’– having a dream. Lennie and George have a relatively easy dream: to own a little farm, and be their own bosses, which contrasts with the big factory type farm they are on, where men are dealt with like makers, which are often broken (Crooks and Candy), and isolated from each other. George repeats his and Lennie’s dream like a mantra: ‘we got a future’, suggesting that they are different to the others. Future’ here is a metaphor for something bright, and greater than what they have now– like the American Dream to ‘live off the fatta the land’. The phrase ‘fat of the land’ almost recommends a scriptural promised land after the difficult, ‘wilderness’ years. The function of the dream therefore is to help them to endure hardship and not give in to despair. They desire control of their own lives: ‘we’ll just say the hell with goin to work’. This can make them appear naive nevertheless, as farmers have to work whether they want to or not– particularly smallholders.
When George sets out the dream, he then states that he and Lennie are ‘not like those other people’. The dream sets George and Lennie apart from the others; they make themselves unique: in the inclusive ‘we’ versus the special ‘those other people’. The juxtaposition of ‘us’ and ‘them’ verbally bonds the lead characters together in contrast to the other males– although they are all, George, Lennie, Crooks, Sweet, in the same scenario. Still, George and Lennie different themselves from the others by utilizing the 3rd individual to describe farm hands as, ‘the loneliest people in the world. The superlative ‘loneliest’ and embellishment ‘on the planet’ exaggerates the harshness of the world of the Anxiety as shown in the book. Sometimes it seems that George ‘owns’ the dream– as he is the one who informs it to Lennie, like a child’s bedtime story, prayer or mantra, in keeping with his role as ‘parent/protector’ to his child-like buddy. This is stressed by the basic, mantra-like structure, where Lennie keeps filling out the spaces if George thinks twice, and repeating short expressions after him as if he knows it by heart, although– as George states frustratedly, Lennie always ‘forgets’ whatever else.
It is not always particular if George believes the dream is possible or if he is stating it to keep Lennie quiet. Often, George appears sceptical, saying they will have ‘every colour rabbits’ consisting of ‘red and blue’. He is patronising to Lennie, stating ‘good young boy’, keeping him safe from his own stupidity. In these scenes the dream seems more of a spell or placebo to keep the primary characters safe than something that is truly possible. Other characters are very negative about the dream. The reader is made to question how sensible these dreams are.
Curley’s other half dreams of when she got rid of the chance to become famous, but we can see that her dream is a sham. Of George and Lennie’s dream, Crooks says: ‘every damn among them’s got a little piece of land in his head’. Crooks’ last judgement is that ‘never ever a God damn one of ’em ever gets it.’ The repeating of the outright ‘never ever’ and ‘ever’, along with the strong slang ‘God damn’ emphasises how desperate life is. However, it is not particular whether Steinbeck shares Criminals’ negative view. Criminals is a severe character. His language is hyperbole– very extreme and relentlessly negative.
Crooks’ phrase ‘God damn’ suggests that God has actually deserted these males, in contrast to the scriptural picture of hope in George and Lennie’s imagine living ‘off the fatta the land’. The biblical imagery continues adversely when Criminals compares the imagine land to being ‘like Paradise’– the Christian concept of perfect happiness, not considered a physical truth– and which Crooks says is simply as difficult to get as a piece of land. It’s hard for George to keep Lennie out of difficulty and keep them on track for their dream. However when they tell Candy, it begins to seem as if it may be possible. [requirements proof/ quotation/ language analysis] In an immediate,
Candy’s faith (and money) take them near to the ideal/dream ending up being genuine. As the dream is shared, or heard by more individuals, the more it seems that together they might make it come true. Even the ultra negative Criminals begins to believe. [needs proof/ quotation/ language analysis] But all the time, Steinbeck has built up a foreboding feeling, that this world is hard and terrible and absolutely nothing excellent can live in it. We feel that the gentleness of Lennie and George’s relationship, and their shared dream, will be squashed by the harsh world– even by Lennie’s desire for gentle, soft things. I like soft things’ Whenever he kills an animal– mouse or puppy, Lennie’s greatest, darkest worry is that he will not be enabled ‘to tend the rabbits’. The dream is so valuable to him that he wants it at any cost. Curley’s partner is lonely and desires somebody to listen to her dream. [requirements proof/ quote/ language analysis] When she finds Lennie in the barn, she lets him stroke her hair. When she starts shouting, Lennie screams at her to stop or ‘George won’t let me tend the bunnies’. She’s so scared that she can’t stop and Lennie inadvertently eliminates her.
In a way, Lennie’s desire to keep the dream (by keeping Curley’s wife quiet– and smothering her) is the important things that has actually destroyed it. The irony of this makes it much more poignant. When Candy discovers what has occurred all he needs to know is that he and George can still get the farm. [needs proof/ quotation/ language analysis] He forgets human decency– the female is dead and Lennie will soon pass away too. Steinbeck makes us ask whether any dream of monetary prosperity should be more important than human life? Should we attempt to get it at any cost?
At the end, George tells Lennie the ‘fairy story’ of the dream once again– to make him happy at the moment he has to eliminate the dream of togetherness by shooting him in the head. He almost can’t speak because he is so upset. [requirements proof/ quotation/ language analysis] Although George might still have the farm with Sweet, he is deeply unfortunate that he could not keep Lennie alive. Because the dream isn’t worth much when he does not have his old friend to share it with. Lennie liked the dream more than anyone and he never ever gets it.